In 2020, I think Bank Negara Malaysia was one of the last if not the last scholarship provider to conduct their assessments and interviews and to actually choose their scholars. The scholarship process culminated at the end of June with results coming out a week after in July. With that being said, I would like to reassure you that the Bank does not ignore the scholarship applicants (I thought I was forgotten) even though they were at the forefront of reducing the economic effects of the pandemic.
Anyways, let’s get into what really matters, my personal experience applying for the Kijang Scholarship.
Kijang Academy 2020
Due to the unprecedented pandemic, our interview could not be carried out face to face, like in the previous years. Instead, we had to make do with online assessments and interviews, but the experience gained was still beneficial nonetheless. The whole programme is called Kijang Academy, where the assessments were broken into two parts, the first one consisted of a psychometric assessment and a video submission and the second part was interview day.
Because the Bank could not conduct face to face interviews, they had to compromise for a psychometric assessment (an assessment that tries to identify your traits and personality type), which made sense as they could not evaluate us merely from a day of interviews. My advice for the test is to answer as honestly as possible and don’t hesitate when you answer (the Bank will be able to identify irregularities in your answers, be honest!).
Other than that, the video submission was a common method used in 2020 due to again, the lack of a face-to-face experience with the applicants. We had to create a 3-minute video based on the topics the Bank provided us with (topics will probably change year to year) and post it through a medium that is again mentioned by the Bank. My advice for you here is to get creative with your videos as anything goes (humour and singing in your videos are very much tolerated), and not to stress too much about it. Remember, the first part of the interview experience is just entirely focused on trying to get to know you better, so just be yourself!
Interview day starts in the morning, where all the applicants were divided into separate online meeting rooms to carry on with the group interview. The group interview comprised two activities, the first one was each group member had to describe a picture they received from the Bank, and the task was to create a story with an exact timeline surrounding the pictures described by our group members. It was quite challenging as to describe a picture without any context beforehand is already difficult by itself, not to mention disparities and loopholes in your group members' descriptions. My advice would be to stay calm and not to worry if you get the pictures in a different order compared to the Bank’s, it’s entirely up to your interpretation.
After the group interview in the morning, you would have an allotted time for your personal interview in the evening. You’ll be interviewed for around 30 minutes by a panel of staff working at the Bank, all of them distinguished individuals. But do not let this scare you, I do believe that the interviewers genuinely want to see you do your best and succeed. A good thing to keep in mind is to stay calm and answer the questions accordingly, put on a friendly face, and head straight on!
The experience gained from Kijang Academy was wholesome and the lessons learned from it were monumental. I do not own any surefire recipe that will get you the scholarship but ingredients such as hard work, effort and self-belief are some of the few ingredients that will cook up any success story. I wish the best of luck to you in all your future endeavours. Godspeed!