Veno, 2nd row and 4th from the right, during the Khaznah Scholarship on boarding session
It was that time of the year again when everybody is scouring through the internet searching for some sort of help or some sort of salvation. In my case, I was looking for a MIRACLE. Honestly speaking, I wanted somebody, anybody really, to document his/her Yayasan Khazanah Global Scholarship Programme (YKGSP) journey to the dot. Although there were many blogs describing their experiences, I felt as though there was something missing. So in order to fill the void that you might be feeling, I hope I’d be able to vividly describe my experience and share as much as I can so that your “insatiable” thirst for information would be quenched (to a certain extent, I hope).
The general rule of thumb for any scholarship application: BE YOURSELF! These people interviewing you might be your future employer and you always want to sell yourself in the best way possible. Now, let’s get down to business. YKGSP consisted of 5 stages in total.
1st stage (Online Application)
You have to fill up the online form and together with it you have to attach an essay. The title given to me in 2014 was “Why Khazanah Scholarship is for you and how you can contribute to the good governance practice and leadership development of Malaysia.”
I personally feel that YK is searching for an individual who comes across as confident (not to be mistaken with headstrong). Write a splendid essay that portrays your beliefs, and stand in life. It requires conviction and I assure you that you’re on the right path.
2nd stage (Online IQ Test)
The dreaded IQ test. During this test, time will be your worst enemy and you will have to come to terms with your shortcomings. The test is divided into 5 different components.
- Abstract reasoning test which tests our ability to relate statements e.g. mammal, dog, animal. Here you should be able to deduce that all dogs are mammals and all mammals except humans are animals. Then, you will have to pick a Venn diagram that perfectly suits this statement.
- Understanding logical process tests on your ability to reason the statements given e.g.
“The Jones live three floors below the Smiths.
The Smiths are not living at the topmost floor.
The Youngs are right above the Smiths.
There are only four floors in the flat.
Which floor are the Summers staying in?”
- Spatial reasoning test is where you’re tested on your ability to detect simple figures in a very complex diagram.
- Social context on the other hand, tests your creativity. You will be given sets of four pictures and you have to rearrange them to form sensible comic strips. Beware! There are no dialogues and everything depends on how you decipher the pictures.
- Numerical reasoning is where you put your (I bet by this time) super rusty maths skills to test. Personally, I found this to be the easiest as it was only a number sequence test, but there’s a caveat! You only have 11 minutes (I think, if my memory serves me right) to complete 40+ number sequences.
Remember, for all these tests, you will be given a certain amount of time to complete as many questions CORRECTLY. And these examples are just testers. The real questions were slightly tougher. I do hope that Yayasan Khazanah does not change the format of the IQ test. But, always bear in mind that practice makes perfect so DO SEARCH FOR FREE IQ TESTS ONLINE AND TRY THEM OUT!
3rd stage (Assessment Camp)
The 3rd stage was definitely nerve-wracking to say the least but it definitely was more of a learning experience for me. It was held at Corus Hotel, KL and it was divided into 2 sessions (the case study/presentation and personal interview).
Always remember, that in any scholarship interview, may it be a stress interview or a formal interview, the interviewers will always want to bring out the best in you (at least, that’s what I believe). In this case, the personal interview had a more laidback feel to it and the room was filled with a palpable lightness that I enjoyed.
Remember, interviewers will definitely ask generic questions like “Tell me about yourself,” “Why this course?”, “What have you learnt from your mistakes?”, etc, but it’s really up to you to make the conversation interesting. Give them something to ponder upon; tell them your point of view on life and motivations to give your interviewers the impetus to ask you more questions. That gives the whole conversation a purpose and there wouldn’t be silent awkward moments.
Besides that, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewers’ opinions. One last tip for interviews, it really doesn’t hurt to read up on current issues so that you can initiate discussions regarding them as the interview progresses.
Next up, case study. Our case study heavily revolved around the usage of facebook in the workplace. I forgot how the questions went but the gist of it was that we (you’ll be divided into teams) were to give a presentation on whether to ban or allow Facebook in the workplace. Don’t fret if you have no idea where to begin because you’ll be given palm cards that contain vital points that should be taken into consideration.
You’ll be given a time limit to come up with a power point presentation and you’ll have 5 minutes to pitch your idea. It is important for you to speak out during the discussion and don’t forget to be an opportunist.
After the presentation, there was a short Q & A session. They won’t bite but they will surely make you ruminate on whatever you’ve said earlier so the best advice here is to THINK BEFORE YOU TALK.
After the group Q & A, we were asked to do two fun activities that put our critical thinking skills to test. For the first part, we were given a questionnaire with a few sections from A-G, all regarding the day’s assessments. Then, we were given a card containing 5 questions which we had to answer within the time limit of 20 minutes.
e.g “Based on section A (of the questionnaire), question number 14, 15, 18 and 20, do you think that the questions have achieved their aim of gauging the students’ performance for the day?”
For the second activity, we were given a piece of paper containing 12 pairs of answers, with the questions spread all over a table within each group’s vicinity according to numerical order. We had to move from table to table in search for the questions and full descriptions of the answers (both were placed together), then tick our choices onthe piece of paper. We were given 20 minutes for this too.
e.g. In the midst of making a decision, a senior director gives his decision. What would you do?
o Adhere to his idea due to seniority but if it doesn’t work, propose another idea to the board.
o Resign as a sign of protest against his idea.
We also had a group interview regarding the topic of Facebook. For this session, each of the members in the group was given a card. On one side of the card, a myth regarding Facebook was printed on it. On the other side was a fact. For my card, under the category of socializing, I was to choose between “connects” or “disengages”. The other four members got different categories (which I can’t recall). The panel consisted of 2 members (they were not the friendliest) who asked me to explain me choice. I personally believe that for this section in particular, there is no wrong or right answer. It’s really how you convince them and sell your idea. BE INFECTIOUS!
4th stage (individual interview)
Well, if you’ve come this far you can definitely breathe a huge sigh of relief and take a breather. This stage will be more of an individual discussion with the YK Board, mainly Mr. Kamarul Bahrein (Director of YK), Mdm Intan Zalila or Mdm Emilia Maizura. They were really genuine and friendly. So my advice for this stage is don’t be too pretentious. Just be yourself. And be prepared to answer the typical interview questions;most of them will be based on your ECA and your experiences.
Don’t feel stressed if they put you out there and ask you something out of the blue. Just stay calm and composed. Don’t ever be fazed by questions that are thrown at you. My interview lasted for 30 minutes and the questions ranged from personal questions regarding my family to the degree I planned to pursue. Show them that you’ve done your homework and read up about the foundation, its core values and try to relate them with what you’re passionate about.
5th stage (Final Interview)
This is more of a confirmation stage where you’ll get to meet the cream of the crop (all the scholars that survived the gruelling process YK selection). As I have mentioned earlier, this interview was really laid back. It’s more of a conversation with your future employer. Don’t be shocked if it only lasts for 5 minutes and they ask questions regarding your favourite football team. But always be prepared to answer questions that may or may not be of the norm. This session was held at the Mercu Uem building at KL sentral. We were interviewed by the Board of Director of Khazanah Nasional and it was a brief session.
Venoshini Sevalimgam is an optimistic person who believes that education is a right, not a privilege. She is heading to the University of Manchester to pursue a degree in chemical engineering sponsored by Yayasan Khazanah. Definitely a pop culture aficionado!