Eighteen hundred applicants took up the challenge to fill up the online forms by the end of September 2012 but only nine were selected to be Yayasan Sime Darby scholars early in January 2013.
“What is the secret?”, comes the typical question. Truth to be told, there is no secret but I shall share some insights of my application process that may aid a pleasant journey through your scholarship applications.
First Stage – Online Application
Simple biodata, activities and leadership positions you once held will be required of you. Then come a few short essays. Honestly, I have forgotten the questions but what is important is that you should try to make your essays unique and more personal. Remember, the assessors are screening through hundreds if not thousands of applicants. How would they pick yours out of the many? Be UNIQUE!
Second Stage – First interview & Proficiency Test
During the morning session, the applicants were given a topic to speak about with some preparation time, for example regarding their ambitions, which country they intend to study in etc. The assessor would question you after your verbal presentation, like an oral test I guess. The first screening was to identify those who have good verbal skills.
The afternoon session was the Maths and Linguistic proficiency test. If you make it through the morning stage, you will be asked to move into a computer room to answer Mathematics and English questions. For Maths, graphs and tables were given and analytic skills came into play here; for English, we were required to compare two different sources and answer questions based on them. The time provided was 4 minutes per passage so time management was extremely important here.
Remember to put everything on a scale, to decide quickly which questions you should give up in order to solve easier questions. However, if you can solve all without a hitch, kudos to you ;D
Third Stage – Case study and Second Interview
The case study session is where I believe that your skills in management and decision making are tested. In previous years, the case study was done in groups. However, in my batch, we were given the case individually and were asked to present our solutions after 40 minutes of preparation. My case was about choosing a location for a new building for the headquarter. I had to weigh the logistic prospects as well as many other factors to justify my choice of location. We would need to think out of the box as the statistics given only covered a few aspects and it was up to me to use my general knowledge to further boost my justifications.
The second interview was basically about the experience I had picked up in my life. Expect to be asked about your weaknesses, strengths, visions, lessons learnt from problems etc. This is the stage where they evaluate your personality so remember to always speak the truth. Assessors will be able to pick out hints of lies or exaggerations. Be yourself but pick those incidents that truly impacted your life- incidents where you learnt a great deal of life skills.
Fourth Stage- Final Interview
During this stage, I was interviewed by the CEO of Yayasan Sime Darby, the Human Resource Manager from Sime Darby Corp. and an expert in my field of choice. There was only little similarity between the questions directed to different applicants. They may ask you about the tenets of the Sime Darby family but the main questions were based on my essays, personality test, future visions and dedication.
I did not put in an A to Z guide for this scholarship. I’m just giving a rough skeleton to ease your way through the process slightly. Remember, this journey varies by individual. Just be awesome and be yourself. God bless and all the best!
- DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT try to memorise answers to interview questions. You can go over some questions that you predict might be asked to smoothen your conversation but memorised answers will just send your efforts South.
- Be flexible- know when to be professional, when to joke, when to bring out those raging emotions. It’s all about the right timing when expressing your feelings alongside your words.
- Be confident, not cocky. Be outspoken but not overbearing
- Research about the company. For my Sime Darby application, I found out what they do, their history, current developments and future plans. Show them that you are as committed to their goals as they are
- Put yourself in their shoes; think of what aspects they look for in you, and express them out.
Jansen Teng Weng Nang, a student par excellence, will be pursuing his degree in Biotechnology and Management at Imperial College London under the Yayasan Sime Darby Merit Scholarship. Living up to the maxim of “Scientia potientia est”, he believes that learning never ends- and so does living.