Yayasan TNB Scholarship Interview
I flew in from Kuching just yesterday (18th of April). A week before, my dad received a call from the capital. Through the phone, and the phone alone, he was provided details of the Yayasan TNB Scholarship interview on 2pm Thursday, the 19th of April. Dad was glad I was shortlisted but we were puzzled by that fact that there weren’t any black and white. No notification letters, no faxes, no emails, just a phone call.
Nonetheless, the tickets were booked and here I am. That day, my aunt drove me and mum there. The venue was at the Yayasan TNB (YTN) building in UNITEN. It took an effort to find that place, poor signage around Kajang were to blame. A few wrong turns and a few trips to gas stations for directions finally got us there.
The campus was a sight. Especially the Administration building which was a large modern complex cladded in glass. We had lunch in there, by then it was 1pm. It was also there that I met Faiz, former NS camp mate who also flew in from Kuching. Ain’t the world just small? XD
At 1.30pm, all stuffed and satisfied, but with me more shaky and nervous, we made our way to the adjacent block. YTN had a whole building to themselves but their office were situated on the first floor. My aunt dropped me at the entrance. A few dudes obviously my age in formal wear, tie and all, were already making their way into the building.
A pretty grand reception counter greeted us, behind it was a wall which bore the foundations’ identity in gold. I registered myself on a list, being the 9th candidate to arrive. And to my surprise, two names above me was Nigel Sim, the year’s top student of Kuching High! Bummer. There was already quite a few formal wear dudes sitting around, I found a seat between Faiz and Nigel.
At around 1.55pm, a staff announced for all the candidates to move into their office. We were led into a small seminar room and sat in rows of six. There were about 20 males and 3 females in that room. And the silence was deafening. At five minutes pass two, a female YTN staff walked in and gave us a short briefing on the procedures of the interview. She also gave us surprising statistics of chances of being selected for the scholarship at a ratio of only 1:9. Holy smokes! That means in that room of 23 candidates, only 2 or 3 will get the scholarship.
After that, spirits undeterred, we were directed into a meeting room across the office for some verbal tests. We were given 10 minutes for each test of about 35 to 40 questions, all to be answered on a OMR paper. The first test was Verbal Comprehension, asked us questions on Physics and stuff I reckon has to do with engineering. Simple examples would be like ‘If hot is to cold so soft is to..? A. warm B. hard C. tender..’ and so on. That was of course one of the first questions, and it got very much harder after that. One really has to know those Physics terms in English to really score on that.
The second test was Verbal Reasoning. I actually had some fun completing this one. A question would give you a set of three words, two of these three are pairs that are related as synonyms or antonyms. The left out word would then be related in one way or another with one of the answers given. Sounding almost like a game, one needs to have a vast vocab to score in this, for the last page of words were like martian to me. Nonetheless, I was pretty confident I scored in the first two tests.
Next up was a profiling test. Two sections that consisted of good qualities and negative qualities required us to check one among four qualities for every question. The process is pretty complicated but after transferring the answers onto a result sheet and later onto a graph, we could clearly see how our personality tends to bend to. Of course, by that time, there would not be any more time to grab the eraser and alter the results. If I could remember correctly, my graph slanted more towards the ‘Dominant’ point, aha! Whoever dares to challenge me now?! XD
Then we were all back to the seminar room and one by one, we were called into the Room to be interviewed. Me being the 9th on the list, had the privilege of listening what the previous candidates have to say about the interview, tips and all. But it was the wait that kills, with each candidate taking 15 mins tops, I have to wait a minimum of 2 hours before it was my turn.
Nonetheless, it did came. The YTN staff called for my name as I took a deep breath and tried to calm my shaking hands. She took my portfolio and guided me into the Room. The panel consists of malay and a Caucasian. A chair was placed against the wall about 3 metres away from their desk. I greeted them in my shaky voice and they told me to have a seat.
An the interview begun by asking me to ‘say something about myself’. So I cleared my throat and babbled everything my absent mind could think of about myself. The Caucasian listened on without a twitch in his movements, while the malay guy kept on smiling.
Then they continued to ask on ‘Tell us what do you know about TNB’. Ok well, I certainly did my homework and prepared for this particular question. So, once again, I babbled everything according to what I had rehearsed again and again in the seminar room. But I was stupid. I took less than 2 minutes pouring out everything I knew and then there was silence.
The Malay guy seem fascinated at me, probably for how much I’ve prepared or maybe how much facts I’ve got wrong, I don’t know. But that wasn’t the fact with the caucasian. He continued to stare at his desk and blurted ‘is THAT all?’ He was not contented at all. He continued to shoot me with questions, asking ‘What is the market share price of TNB?’ And THAT caught me completely off guard. I blinked at his wavy blonde hair in disbelief, choking out an ’ I’m n-not sure.’
He then continued to bombard me with questions only a business analyst with a five-digit salary would know. ‘How much stake does TNB have in SESCO?’ ‘How many power plants does TNB operate?’ The Malay guy stopped smiling when I grinded out my third ‘I’m not s-sure about that, either’. That session ended with me feeling all so stupid.
They continued to ask me about my plans if I don’t get the interview, which was going for form 6. They also asked what other scholarships had I applied for. And then they told me that was all and the YTN staff returned me my portfolio. I stood up and thanked them.
And then I stepped out and exhaled two tonnes of CO2.
Anyway, I’d take it as a first experience for me and perhaps a lesson — don’t ever blurt out everything you know all at once, leave room for questions. I wouldn’t expect to get the scholarship but the experience was worth it.
That said, I’d still be bracing for form 6, the two-year psychological stress programme.