Greetings, readers! I am Faisal, a Bank Negara Malaysia’s Kijang Scholarship recipient for the year 2018/2019 and I am delighted to share my experience with you. First of all, I would like to clarify that the assessments are carried out differently every year. This article will only then give a glimpse of the style of the assessment. I will not be able to describe the whole process to avoid revealing some confidential parts.
Contrary to previous years, there were only about 60 candidates that made it through the online application stage in 2018. On the first night, we were sorted into our respective groups and were briefed on the central bank’s organisational structure and the scholarship programme itself. There were no assessments held. Previous Kijang scholars (who are currently serving their bond) were assigned to each group as mentors. At first, when no one had the guts to start a conversation, it was rather awkward. However, our mentors were nothing but friendly and I found myself enlightened by the situation. They were the ones who started the conversation and we had quite a fruitful discussion throughout the night.
One of my mentors is an Economics undergraduate. She was definitely my point of reference as I myself applied to read Economics. If the same activity is carried out in 2019, my best advice for you is to ask as many questions as possible to understand what you will be facing in the future as a central bank scholar.
The group assessment was split into four stages.
The first stage was ice-breaking with the assessing panel in our respective groups. One by one, we were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to let the panel get to know us better. Towards the end of the session, each of us were given a blank A4 paper and coloured pens and was told to produce a simple magazine cover that summarizes our personality and interests precisely and concisely. Indeed, the first stage made us knew each other better and we became more comfortable around each other.
The second stage was a grouped task (balancing water bottles on a bridge made of straws and newspapers). Each group were given materials such as straws, newspapers, scissors and cellophane tape. It was more challenging as we were only allowed to use the materials to produce a bridge (of our own design) that is able to hold as many water bottles as possible. It was quite an intense activity as each group were divided into two and one subgroup was not allowed to communicate with the other. Hence, we had to make half of the bridge, hoping that we were able to connect them together and produce a strong bridge. Surprisingly, our bridge managed to hold 3 bottles compared to others in our room which could only hold 2 bottles on average.
The third stage was a role-playing task. Each group were instructed to come up with a solution to a business problem (our goal was to develop a project with the objective of complying with CSR). I was assigned to the administration team. My responsibility was to assure that our proposals would not backfire and self-contradict. Perhaps, that was the task other candidates found the hardest. There was definitely pressure as we were allocated very little time and were required to complete a rather detailed proposal.
I am not able to recall the fourth stage accurately. From what I remember, each group had to present a daily life situation that requires us to apply knowledge from the respective fields we applied for. For instance, since some of the members of my group applied for Economics, we re-enacted a situation that portrayed how corporations use supply and demand theories to target consumers.
Reality hurts but that’s just how life works. Only about half of us made it to the interview stage and we were sorted into groups according to the courses we applied for. Prior to the interview, we had to create a presentation based on a given topic using a mah-jong paper and marker pens. We were instructed to present our ideas before the interview.
The interview process was similar to the interviews that we have heard from other people. The interviewers could ask what you know regarding the structure of the central bank, your reasons for applying for the scholarship (why Bank Negara out of all?) and what made you choose to study the intended course. Most importantly, to get to know you and understand who you truly are.
What I think I did well and what should you do?
I think I should reiterate what was said by other previous (and current) scholars. The idea is to be as natural as possible. It is undeniable that your knowledge of current issues (particularly those pertaining to the course that you applied for) is a valuable indicator of your potential. However, I believe that some candidates might try to show their potential by plainly using economic jargon throughout the assessment. Some candidates can also come off as very weak team players especially when they are quick to dismiss other people’s ideas. Besides intellect, I believe that the central bank is looking for candidates that cooperate well in teams, an aspect that is vital for functionality in an organisation. It is advisable to stay true to your personality when you are being assessed. This way, not only are you able to express yourself truly, it will also help you go through the assessment calmly.
Faisal is currently a Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholar who’s completing his A-level at Epsom College in Malaysia. Having full faith in his passion, he aims to study in Economics in the United Kingdom (particularly UCL). His A-level subjects are Economics, Chemistry and Further Mathematics. As an active member of the Epsom Debating Society, Faisal believes that discourses in a community are essential for positive outcomes. Even though you may see Faisal with his emo hair and grumpy face, Faisal is actually a highly friendly and sociable person so feel free to talk to him whenever you see him. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.