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The Scholarship Interview – 4 Things to do Before You Walk in the Door

You’ve gotten a call from your organisation of choice and have an interview lined up. As the date approaches, you wonder what you need to do to make the best possible impression when you walk through that door. 

We hope you have done your research and rehearsed your self-introduction. Those are the “big ticket” items that will make or break your interview. However, that doesn’t mean you can neglect the small stuff, which will help improve your self-image and give others a good impression of you.

Whatever else, make sure you:

 

1.     Tidy yourself up

Dress for this interview as you would for a job interview – neat and professional. Make sure your hair is tidy, your shirt is ironed, and your nails are clipped. Follow a personal grooming checklist, or just ask your mum to give you a once-over before you head out. You may wish to prepare a “scholarship outfit” that you can reach for easily, so that you don’t have to worry with multiple interviews.

You can also speak to the person who informed you of the interview about the dress code, and emulate it.

That said, even if the company/organisation is a more relaxed one (such as the DesignSingapore Council), you should still opt for business wear in terms of clothing options, and a put-together self-presentation never goes amiss. This is a way of showing respect towards yourself and the interviewer, and validating the importance of the interview.

 

2.     Give a good handshake

We all know first impressions are formed in a matter of seconds, or even faster than that.

Sponsoring organisations have hundreds, even thousands, of candidates to interview. That means you won’t have any time to correct a bad first impression, and they won’t bother to reach out to clarify anything with you either.

A good smile, a confident step, polished manners… these small things will be noted by your interviewer the moment you walk in the door. So leave a lasting impression and a good one by making sure you have these covered!

If you do make a small error of manners, though, make sure you apologize sincerely and then move on. There’s no need to linger on your mistakes, and it was a small one.

 

3.     Have your materials on hand 

It’s always good to be prepared. The person who reviewed your application may not be the person interviewing you, or you may be interviewed via a panel.

Hence, keep a copy of your documents on hand in hard copy, and bring them out when needed during the interview. These include your grades, CCA records, testimonials and even your resume, if you want. You can’t be over-prepared for an interview like this, and it’s good to have all your bases covered.

If it’s a video interview, do the same on a digital level. Have a list of links to a resume or portfolio ready to copy and paste if required. You may wish to prepare a browser window with all the necessary loaded up beforehand, so that your interviewer can switch to the relevant screen anytime.

 

4.     Get yourself psyched!

“Be confident and be sincere during the interview. Some people show their nervousness and if that happens, just calm yourself down and maintain your confidence.” That was the advice of Chia Jieru, ST Engineering Overseas Scholar, as featured in our magazine.

To gain confidence, thoroughly research and prepare before the interview. That way, you’ll be sure that you won’t mess up due to a lack of diligence, and that ethic will show through in your bearing.

After that, you can practice encouragement and self-affirmations before the interview itself. You can model these on the affirmations used before a job interview to inspire confidence and calm. Also, think of projects you succeeded in and difficulties you overcame, and revel in the gung-ho feeling you gain. (Don’t go overboard into boasting, though!)

A confident, sincere applicant is a good candidate for the scholarship, most sponsoring organisations agree.


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