You’ve gotten a call or an email and are plunged into a flurry of excitement – you’ve scored an interview with the organisation of your dreams! Congratulations!
Unfortunately, the fun ends there. The next part is some hard work to ensure you stand out from the many other interviewees. You need to convince the sponsoring organisation that you’re the best man or woman for their next scholar, and you need to do it within the relatively short interview.
We at BrightSparks have interviewed scholars and their organisations for years, so from the benefit of our experience take note of these 6 absolute Do’s and Don’ts:
1. DO research the organisation beforehand
We say this every time, but research is key to a successful interview. You need to have a good knowledge of two things: the scholarship and the scholarship provider.
For the first, get to know courses sponsored, bond period, extra benefits or what sort of career track is expected of you. For the second, learn about the organisation through its website, reports, and any other sources you can find. If you have seniors who signed up with them before, ask them some questions. Attend information sharing sessions and build your knowledge.
2. DO plan your introduction and rehearse
After research is rehearsal. No musician goes onto stage to perform blind, and your performance at the interview should be equally practiced.
Draft a “pitch” for yourself and practice it until you sound natural. You could also memorise some answers to popular interview questions. Another thing to prepare is a list of achievements you’d like to highlight, and how they contribute to the organisation’s ongoing mission.
3. DO dress properly and have documents on-hand
Whether the interview is via video or in-person, dress in proper business attire and have pertinent documents at the ready. These include your A-Levels certificate, CCA records, testimonials, awards and anything else that may be relevant.
4. DON’T let yourself get distracted
In the age of handphones, tablets and everything else tech, it’s easy to get distracted by noise or notifications. We recommend shutting off your handphone before the interview, and in a similar vein, closing all your browser windows before getting started.
If it’s a long-distance interview from home, make sure the people you live with know you’re not to be disturbed. Move the cat to another room, put the snacks back in the fridge, and lock the door!
5. DON’T only talk about yourself
Nothing says “I’m only in it for the free education” like talking exclusively about how excited you are about the bond-free scholarship with stipends for dorm living. Instead, orient your answers towards how you plan to contribute to the organisation, and from there, Singapore and the world.
Remember, an interview is a conversation, not a Q & A session. Ask questions of the interviewers as well. Where do they plan to take the organisation in a few years? How are they moving forward post-Covid? Queries like these will show an active interest in a career with them, rather than just what they have to offer.
6. DON’T forget the thank-you note!
This is one surefire way to stand out from the crowd, simply because many applicants forget it. So make sure you’re one of the special ones who sends a thank-you note after the interview!
Keep it short and sweet, and be sure to mention something in the interview that made an impression on you. Your time limit is 24-hours – send it within then!
Now that you know what to do (and what to not do), go and interview with confidence!