The JPA Scholarship Application & Interview (Tips included)

This was posted quite a while ago and thus may not be relevant at some point. But I hope this may still be useful. :D

After receiving my SPM results, I quickly filled in every scholarship application that was available and suitable. One of them was the Public Service Department (JPA) Overseas Degree Programme. For the JPA, I had to fill in an online form at the website. Thankfully, I was accepted for the interview. I also had to do the online psychology test which was really easy despite the number of questions; they just asked about yourself and they were yes or no questions. You just have to be honest, that's all. Then, comes the interview so here's the story.

For the interview, I asked a number of seniors, discussed with some friends and searched the net for any tips and tricks for the interview. In the Internet, there were quite a lot! They were really helpful too. First and foremost, the JPA is very particular about examination results followed by co-curricular activities. These two really help even before the interview which is the online application. Then comes the other sections like race and neediness.

About the racial part.. From what I heard, applying to MARA gives a better advantage because this scholarship is only for Malays. Future Malay applicants should also know that you can only apply either for JPA or MARA and not both or you'll get neither of them. So, back to the racial part, this (Malay advantage) idea is actually thought by many students and many Malays then choose to apply for MARA. This is part of the reason why I chose JPA. It's because when many Malays actually chose MARA, it can mean that less Malays applied for JPA; less competition! Moreover, I also had recommendations from a few people to apply for JPA and so I did. But this doesn't mean it makes things so much easier. Competition really depends on a lot of things, including the Degree Major you intend to hold. For instance, I applied for Computer Science and from my experience, I didn't even meet other Computer Science applicants; only Accounting, Economics, Science, and Engineering. Medicine was done on previous days which means there were a lot of future doctors applying. Technically speaking, my application was less competitive then my Engineering and Medic friends. Those wanting to try out the popular careers (i.e. Accounting, Engineering and Medic), you should really do your best, practice speaking and answering well especially.

Tips and tricks. Well, not really tricks..just some handy things you can follow. Firstly, get yourself ready for the talking. It's practically an interview, so it's really common sense. The interview I had was a group interview with 3 interviewers and it was done in Malay Language and also English; we answer according to the language used for each question. I'll go on to tell my story of it after I'm done with the other tips. Let's continue. The next tip, is to get used to the latest news and issues (besides the political ones). Things like Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, and The Malaysian Education System or even The 1 Malaysia Concept (I personally read through this thoroughly). Oh, a very important reminder, be careful of getting yourself into a trap of your own when answering questions or you might end up getting a counter-attack. An example would be revealing your own weakness. Let's say, you're applying for Computer Science. Even though you really are not good at using computers, don't tell them! Or they'll ask you something like, "then why are you applying for this course?" or "then I don't think you can make it, can you?" Just remember, prevention is better than cure.

Now, here comes appearance. When reading through an article, a writer said that it was advisable to wear a blazer for the interview. So, that's what I did and guess what, in my group, I was the only one with a blazer. It quite helped at "standing out" I guess. Dress formally and for men, wear a tie. For women, don't wear anything sexy just for the sake of "standing out". Wear something decent. Oh, I almost forgot. Another useful thing to prepare and bring is a resume or CV. JPA usually doesn't ask for one but it actually is an advantage to make one and give it to them. Make sure the resume is not too long and lists down the important academic & co-curricular achievements, & the posts you've held with any important capabilities or experiences.

Okay, the most important of all, the interview!
1. Before going, check that everything needed is ready and double-check so that you definitely nothing is left behind.

2. At the centre, before the interview, make friends with your group (you'll get a number usually). Be friendly and work together in the thought of succeeding together. Teamwork is essential.

3. When your name is called, relax. Go inside the room and be polite. Greet and don't sit down until you've been told to do so.

4. First, they usually ask you to introduce yourself. So, make sure you've prepared something for this. It usually includes great past achivements

5. They will ask you specific questions that you will have to answer with astute maturity. It might be something regarding yourself or even general knowledge. Questions like "why are you applying for overseas?" or "can't you do that in Malaysia?" is also common. Prepare yourself and speak fluently. Don't show you're scared! You shouldn't be anyway.

6. Next, a question will be given and you have to discuss among your teammates. So, use the time wisely and if possible, come up with as many points and divide the points among yourselves to avoid repeating the same things. Don't talk too long. Tell them your points and suggestions, don't get stuck in the middle of it, and end it nicely. Another advantage is to "add" when possible after someone else have spoken or when you see an opportunity (like having no one speaking at a time). Just raise your hand and say, "I'd like to add.." and make sure you really have a good point to add and it's not a repetition or you're just making trouble. By adding something, you can SHOW YOURSELF much more. The topics are as I've said, they are things related to Malaysia and can also be very general topics like the environment. It can also be something related to your field of study. Go and and think of those common topics and questions like I've mentioned up there and also in number 5.

7. Beware that there can also be questions like "give me 5 words that describe yourself". And if they say 5 words, they really mean 5 words. So, when you get questions like these, think creatively and fast!

8. When everything is over, stand up and say thank you. Shake hands with them and give a sincere smile (even if you hated the way he/she tortured's his/her job). And try to just shake hands with your own gender.

9. Don't forget to say goodbye to your teammates. Go home and pray!

All in all, good luck to you future JPA scholars! If let's say you don't get it, calm down and don't give up. I myself applied to tons of scholarships and failed to get most of them, but I got this one. Just do your BEST. It's a pleasure to help. ^_^