2019. The year of new beginnings with countless new possibilities. As a high school graduate transitioning into a college freshmen, interviews have become part and parcel of my life. Here is a recollection of the experiences of my three interviews- all of them vastly different, unique, unpredictable and therefore memorable.
- The ‘cas’ convo with the college prof
“Well. Do you have any questions for me?”
“Wow, can I ask you anything?”
“Definitely; go ahead!”
This was a shocker- after only two questions about my decision to major in Psychology and Linguistics, and my thoughts on fake news, the professor proceeded to ask me to ask him questions. Initially, my brain instinctively jumped the gun and assumed that since he ran out of questions after only two of them, I was rejected. Shoving those depressing thoughts aside, I blurted out the burning question that had been sizzling away in the back of my mind since I met him, “Why did you make the decision to teach at a university in Singapore?” As a true- blue Singaporean that had gone through the Singapore education system my whole life, meeting Western professors is a rare and cosmic event. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me.
He was delighted! Immediately, he delved into his background, his home country and his career. The conversation naturally carried on from there- it was remarkable, really- we exchanged views from our life experiences in Japan to the latest findings on artificial intelligence and google translate. Regardless of the uncertainty of the interview outcome, I left the room on cloud nine.
2. The ‘meet-up with potential dates’ session
Seriously. Is the university trying to hook me up instead? This interview was conducted seminar-style- there were two professors, three dudes and me. We were supposed to surface our views about a social issue after the professors asked us a series of questions to get to know us better. Instead, what made the most impression on me were my interactions with the other three male applicants. From cracking up bad jokes to lighten up the otherwise tense mood (it was an interview, after all) to listening to the guys’ life-or-death stories when serving their National Service, I seriously enjoyed it. Surprisingly, this dude and I hit it off right away and we were making plans for a mental-health-awareness-play-thingie in college. During. The. Interview. Itself. The spontaneity of it all startled me and made me look forward to the crazy ideas I can realise, and the endless projects that I can undertake in university. Anyways, to top it off, the whole thing ended with a bang where we made friends on Insta and I was offered a ride back to my workplace. Woah.
3. The Interrogation with Four Government Officials
Without disclosing too much information, I spent 50 minutes in a tiny room cooped up with four senior executives at a government ministry. To be honest, my entire body was frozen with nervousness, anxiety and fear before I entered the room. My palms were sweating and my poor heart was palpitating too rapidly. The one hour of waiting for my turn definitely did not help in calming my nerves. My brain was a roller coaster- frantically recalling Singapore’s latest policy changes while mentally preparing myself for the intense drilling that will occur very soon. However, the warmth, openness and friendliness of the panel hit me like a tidal wave the moment I stepped into the room-
“Please take a seat, Claire!”
It was as if Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was playing in the background. I was so taken aback by that unexpected turn of events I stoned in my seat for a second. I can say with conviction that the interview went well. Regardless of the outcome, this was the best interview experience I have had at a government ministry. At the end of the interview, when one of the government official asked, “Do you have any questions for us?” Being stupid me still recovering from shock and amazement, I blurted out without thinking, “You are very nice.”
They laughed and said, “Of course, we are not here to bite you.”
There you go. A little reflection of my experiences at interviews. Ultimately, what I learnt was while you can prepare for them, being yourself by presenting your best self and putting yourself out there is what matters. For all three of my interviews, there were certain unexpected elements of unpredictability. As to whether or not I got accepted- who knows? They were experiences with valuable lessons learnt.