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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Interviews: Interview Tip #3

Now that we've gotten the first impressions out of the way, let's sit down and talk. Over drinks, or over notes that I am scribbling. For 15 minutes, or for 3 hours. In a sterile office environment, or in McD's Bangsar, or next to the pool in a condominium complex. I might be taping your reasons WHY you want to attend The Ivy University of So-and-So, or I might be making ambiguous "Uh-huh." or "Of course." comments, while filing my nails and yawning from time to time.

Interviews are all different, but each one you attend will have one constant: you. No matter what the environment or the interviewer is like, this is essential - you must always be yourself.

When I say "be yourself" I don't mean speak to the interviewer as you would speak to your buddies. He/She is NOT your buddy; they are a figure of authority and should be treated with respect and deference. What I mean by "be yourself" is to speak decisively, to clearly state what you mean and not to lie just because lies sound better than truth, and to be SINCERE.

If you really do not enjoy math, please do not cover up by proclaiming effusively your love for triple derivatives. Instead, be sincere about what you do like - art, chemistry, history, business - do not apologize for who you are because your acceptance into a college will be based on who you represent yourself as in the interview.

I know this sounds obvious, but when you are nervous and do not really have any idea what to say in an interview, you tend to err on the side of untruth. The interviewer may ask "Why do you want to do Economics? Do you like Math?" and, thinking about the fabulously low score you got on your last Math test, you blurt out "Yes!! I've always been very good at Math!!" And what would you say after that? Absolutely nothing - because you honestly do NOT like Math, you HATE it. How can you elaborate on your untruth? You would end up sounding insincere and unpassionate about your "dream" or "interest".

In situations like this, the best thing to do would be to calmly say "I don't really like Math that much, but I do enjoy the theoretical workings of economics and thinking about its application. I would love to work on public economy and government policy - which is the reason why I'm interested in the Econs major."

In a nutshell - don't try to be the perfect interviewee, because there is no such thing. You are different and unique in your own right, and the most perfect you can be is yourself.

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