Hallo everyone. Recently, I attended an interview held by JPA for PILN (Program Ijazah Luar Negara). Hence, while the memory is still fresh in mind, it'd be great if i could share my JPA scholarship interview experience for all of you to ponder on.
My JPA scholarship interview was scheduled on the 3rd of april 2008 at 2pm at PICC in putrajaya. Just like other candidates, I was nervous and was trying really hard to kill the butterflies in my tummy - literally speaking. :P
I left home at 12pm and reached putrajaya somewhere at 1230-ish. I was indeed very early but it didn't bother me because afterall, being early is better than late, yes? I checked my name, panel and interview room on the board. It turns out that our names were listed according to our birthdays.
I saw other applicants sitting with their parents at the waiting area. Everyone looked very professional in their attire. Most boys wore black pants and collared plain shirt, only a few had coats and vests to add up to their already-smart-looks. As for the girls, mostly wore baju kurung including the non-malays and there were some who wore collared shirt and 3/4 length skirt.
While waiting for 2pm to strike the clock, I mingled with other candidates. We shared stories about school, spm, dreams and et cetera. It felt better to be able to talk and mingle with others as it helped calm my nerves down and distract me from thinking of the interview too much. Waiting alone in silence is just too agonising for me to bear.
After much anticipation, 2pm finally came. All candidates were asked to go to their interview rooms respectively. After signing my name on the attendance list, I was given a paper with a list on it. I was told to rearrange my original and photocopied certificates according to the list. While rearranging my certs, I realised that there were quite a number of people who had trouble with their certs. Some didn't certify their photostated certs and others didn't have their parents' 'slip gaji' and even the 'surat pengesahan gaji' that was supposed to be printed online.
After that, we were divided into groups. Some candidates had 7 to 9 people in one group but as for me, I had only 5 people in my group. There were 2 malays and 3 chinese. We were the third and last group to enter the interview room hence we had to wait; again. We took the time to get to know ourselves so that we wouldn't feel awkward during the interview. I felt less nervous by then.
Finally, we were called in. The interview room was very small, there were 5 chairs arranged in a curve chape facing two lady interviewers who sat at a desk. All of us wished "selamat petang." to the interviewers. Only one of the interviewer spoke and asked questions. The other lady just sat there and checked our certificates one by one.
The first session was conducted in bahasa malaysia. "Perkenalkan diri anda. nama, pekerjaan ibu bapa, kursus yang ingin diambil dan negara mana." I remembered that a friend of mine who went to the interview a day before I did had to give reasons to why she wanted to go to the the country of her choice. eg: she wanted UK and had to give reasons to why UK and not australia. She also had to list out all her curriculur activities at school. This all depends on the interviewer.
The second session was the discussion that most people feared most. I feared the discussion too because I've always been a weak debater who would easily give up when being condemned by the opposition. However, I was lucky because my group members didn't debate on the topic but just simply discussed it. Our topic was, "Malaysia is promoting itself as a centre of education. So why are all of you applying overseas?" All of us gave ideas like better education, experience, to get exposure, better R&D etc. It was a very relaxed discussion whereby even the interviewer chipped in and added her idea as well. It was very relaxed that I didn't feel like being interviewed. I had no trouble during the discussion because I could converse well in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Honestly speaking, whether or not you're good in english, try to speak moderately - not too fast and not too slow. A boy who sat next to me could converse fluently in English. Unfortunately, he spoke too fast (maybe he was nervous) and ended up using some Bahasa Malaysia words and there were at one point when the interviewer herself asked the boy to repeat his sentence as it was too fast and not clear.
About 40 minutes after that, we said our thank yous and left the interview room. I asked my other group members how they felt about the interview and all of us agreed, "very relaxed." We even forgot about all the nausea and nervous breakdown we had before the interview!
So you see, JPA's interview is very easy. I think I did okay for mine but I don't know whether I will be chosen among the lucky 1000 candidates for the scholarship. If i do, i shall thank God for that. If i don't, it's not the end of the road for me.
Before the interview:
-Make sure you have certified all your photocopied certificates as well as your parents' 'slip gaji', 'surat pengesahan gaji' and so forth. Make sure everything is ready at least 2 days before the interview or else you'll panic. (speaking from my own experience lol)
-JPA's interview has always been in groups. Each year the discussion is a repetition of the previous years' topics. So, you should try to prepare/practice discussing a few topics (with friends or family) that you think is relevant and will be repeated for your interview. Some topics that have been repeated for nearly 3 years:
- Maths and Science in English.
- How to show your patriotism when studying overseas?
- Malaysia as an education centre.
- Sports that excel in malaysia.
- Qualities needed to be a leader.
- Secrets of success.
- Discuss on anything you have read from the newspapers recently.
- Wawasan 2020.
- Modal insan.
- Handphones, luxury or necessity?
-Interviews are usually held for more than one day. Thus, I'm sure that you have friends who had their interviews before yours. Call them up and ask them how it went. Ask what topic they got and maybe some last minutes guidelines for you. People, don't be stingy okay? Share your JPA scholarship interview experience and I'm sure you'll be loved more by your friends.
-Mingle with other candidates while waiting for your turn. It is best if you could get to know your group members first before entering the interview room. This helps to reduce your awkwardness during the discussion.
-Pray to God that your interview will go well. It never hurts to pray, yes?
During the interview:
-Put up a smile. Although it's fake *duhh* try to smile as sincere as you can.
-Sit up straight. DO NOT slouch. DO NOT cross your legs.
-Be alert at all times. Listen to the interviewer carefully.
-Speak up. Do not let other people speak for nearly 5 times when you've only spoke once. But speak up doesn't mean you should blab all your ideas during the interview. be tolerant and give other people the chance to speak as well. DO NOT dominate the discussion. If you do, your chances of being liked by the interviewer is very very low.
After the interview:
-Some would say they did okay, some would say they did terrible. It doesn't matter how you did, what's done is done and until a time machine is created, there is no way you can re-do your interview. So don't fret. Be happy because one heavy burden is finally lifted off!
I think that's all from me. I hope that this article is useful for all of you. Good luck and all the best!
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