Pointers on admission interviews for Hong Kong Universities (Part 3)

Here comes the last part of our interview series. We are going to offer you some final reminders of how to best present yourself in the interview.

#1 Asking questions

Usually admission interviews end with the interviewer asking you if you have any questions for them. This is a good chance for you to know more about the program, and to show you know their program very well and are very interested in getting in.

  Ask something that you could have and should have known
Don’t make the mistake of asking something obvious. Eg, the structure of the programme, the prospect it offers…these are information that is easily available in admission talks, open days, and school websites.
Ask ‘extension questions’
So you are very interested in this particular university programme and in particular the exchange opportunities it offers, you can ask more as to how it works  (assuming that the information is not available to you after you have tried looking for it)

#2 Preparing a resume/cv

Even if you are asked to send in your portfolio/resume/cv prior to the interview, always prepare two to three more copies and bring them with you. This is because the administrative staff we receive your resume earlier might not have passed it onto the interviewer and he/she may expect you to have one with you.

#3 Be familiar with your resume/cv

Very often, interviewers will ask you questions based on what you have on your resume. For example, if you put that you have done internship at a certain company for one month, be prepared to be asked what you did there and what you learnt out of it.

[For more specific pointers on resume, read: How to write a good resume?]

#4 Be confident and happy

This is not easy but it is really important. If you are one of those who get nervous easily (like me!), try to tell yourself that you are just going in for a friendly chit-chat, nothing more. So keep down, smile and have fun!

#5 Be polite

Having said that, do remember that you are the student and the interviewer is the teacher/professor. So do show your respect and behave appropriately.

#6 Arrival

Be punctual
Be EARLY!

Always be at least 15 minutes early for an interview. This is because

  • finding the interview room in universities is much more challenging than most of us anticipate
  • arriving early gives you time and calm down, get used to the atmosphere there and make an observation of what’s going on.

It is actually a good idea to check out your interview venue prior to the interview. If you don’t have time, at least check campus maps online to make sure you know where it is.

#7 Attire
Be very careful if your interview invitation specifies what attire you should wear. Is it formal, smart casual, or business casual?

If it does not specify, my advice is, it’s better to turn up in a suit even if all others turn out to be wearing tees and jeans, than to be the only one in jeans in a room of formally dressed people.

With all our pointers passed to you now, good luck and enjoy your coming interviews!

Pointers on admission interviews for Hong Kong Universities (Part 2)

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So last time we covered how to prepare for self-introduction, an essential part of any interview, what’s next?

Group discussion

From my experience, most of the Hong Kong universities’ admission interviews take the form of a group discussion given the limited time and resources. Here are some tips as to how you can make the best out of it.

#1 It’s a discussion, not a debate
You may be given a heated topic to discuss and someone in the group may have opposing views to yours. While you want to explain your view, keep in mind that showing you know how to communicate is more important than showing why you are right.

  Do it in the manner and attitude as if you are discussing the daily news with a friend.
‘Yes, I do see your point as to why […], but for me, I find […] to be a more important factor’.
  Utilise all your debating skills to attack your group mate.
‘Firstly, I do not agree with you that…; Secondly, your argument contains the logical flaw that…; Thirdly, it is not factually correct that…’

#2 Be a listener

Listen to what your group mates have to say.

More importantly, show that you have listened by referring to his/her points. It would be even better if you can remember his/her name and use it in the referral.

eg. ‘I think that…[…]…. In fact, this is similar to what [group mate’s name] pointed out just now.’

#3 If it is a topic you are not familiar with…

Don’t panic.

A lot of times the interviewers want to know what kind of person you are through observing the way you communicate and how you reason your points. The content may not be that important.

So, if it is a topic you are not important, the most important thing is not to lose confidence. Listen to what the others have to say, and link what you know to the discussion.

#4 If it is a topic you are very familiar with…
Think carefully what it is that you really want the interviewers to know about you. To put it more blatantly, what qualities of you will get you into that particular programme. Find it out and focus on it.

Show that you are good at it.
Say, the topic of discussion is air pollution. You definitely want to throw in terms like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides when explaining how they are bad for our health or how they are produced. This will differentiate you from the others who could only use general terms such as pollutants or gases.
Start spending too much time on the ‘technical issues’
Unless the given topic requires you to be that specific, there is no need to recite everything from your geography or chemistry lessons as to the exact process how those pollutants are formed, especially if you are actually doing an interview for an unrelated subject (eg. law/business) and the interviewer just wants you to discuss how air pollution affects our lives.

#5 Be eager
This is especially important if your group mates are rather shy and reserved. Be energetic and make it a happy discussion for everyone. The interviewer has probably listened to five similar discussions already that day and he/she would be thankful to you for making it a more lively one.

Remember to read part 3 where we would share with you some final general reminders and make sure you are all set for your admission interviews!

Pointers on admission interviews for Hong Kong Universities (Part 1)

When applying for degree programmes offered by universities in Hong Kong under JUPAS, many of them shortlist applicants to attend an interview. If you have any interview invitations, congratulations because it means you are being considered. So, now what?

This post will go over a few things that you may want to keep in mind when preparing for and during your interview.

The Self-introduction Part

Nearly every interview inevitable starts with a self-introduction. If you do well in it, you are half way there, so let’s see how we can have a good start.

#1 Be fully prepared.
Have anything planned out, rehearse what you will talk about, time yourself, practice in front of the mirror…

  be very familiar with your self-introduction
  sound as though you are memorizing and reading from a script during the interview. To avoid that, I find it useful to add pauses between sentences and ideas.

#2 Avoid being generic.

Some of you may want to talk about why you want to study a particular programme as part of your self-introduction. That is totally fine but make sure it is a good reason and not something really obvious.

Eg. if you are applying for law school then you may want to go more in depth than just saying that you want to be a lawyer because you value justice, or else it will sound very hollow.

#3 Make it personal
This DOES NOT mean that you have to say or do something really special that no one else would.

An easy way to make your self-introduction to sound more personal and appealing is to share your experience illustrating your points. Is there any particular events that make you decide you want to study that subject?

#4 Focus on a few points
Think carefully what it is that you really want the interviewers to know about you. To put it more blatantly, what qualities of you will get you into that particular programme. Find it out and focus on it.

go deeper and illustrate your points more fully
quickly cover too many issues with little support.

This brings us to the next tip.

#5 Use examples to support yourself
If you say you are very interested in business, how? What activities have you done that are related to business? Or, is there any particular corporations or recent business news that have caught your attention?

Or, if you say that your hobby is doing community services,
go into one or two particular service you did and what you gained from it
saying “I spend lots of time doing different kinds of community services with different NGOs” (even if it is true)

So, that’s pretty much it. Do read Part 2, which will cover group discussions and some general reminders of how to behave in the interview.

Good luck!

生死時速之Lost in England

筆者最近參加了叫Lost一個活動,驚嚇程度之高,於今猶有餘悸。話說這個活動是為倫敦露宿者之家籌款的,活動由倫敦市中心出發,由一架被黑布擋住玻璃的巴士,載我們到一個不知名、離倫敦四十多里的郊區小鎮,然後我們要不費一分一毫,在途人的幫助下限時返回倫敦(或截順風車、或找途人幫忙買火車/巴士/地鐵票)。

2013-10-26 05.18.41 2013-10-26 09.13.37 2013-10-26 09.24.22

聽來就夠刺激了,好戲卻在後頭。我和另一名隊友被丟下在一個名為Forest Row的小鎮後,就開始嘗試截順風車、找途人幫忙,最後一個好心的老太太幫我們付了巴士錢,去到鄰近的East Grinstead,繼續旅程。事情開始不太順利,不夠運,一直截不到順風車,途人也不肯幫我們買巴士票,在市內滯留了三個多小時。當時已經有一點想放棄的感覺,但先吃個午飯吧,再作打算。吃完飯後,幸運之神回來了,終於截到一架順風車,去到離倫敦只有十多里的Red Hill。

好了,事情so far so good對嗎?先別心急,好戲在後頭。成功截過一次後我們信心爆棚,於是重施故技,再截順風車。大概等了一個小時,終於有一架黑色的車停下來,揮手叫我們上車。我們心想得米啦,應該可以直接回倫敦了。豈料天有不測風雲,上車大概兩分鐘,我們就知中伏了。那個穿皮褸,身型健碩、打扮頗rock的光頭司機,開始胡說八道,先說自己來英國是要打劫銀行,搶走所有錢,又大數英國的不是,說這裡有太多人,應該把他們殺清光。我們心知不妙,知道他應該精神有問題,很有可能是神經病的,但怕刺激到他,當然不斷點頭稱是。他越說越興奮,竟然越噏越離奇,說世界其實由一少撮外星人,甚麼奇怪粒子元素所操控,人類其實都不知道真相,只有他最清楚,給我們上車是要有機會令「更多人醒覺」等等。

這也未算最恐怖,他去到後期,興奮到一個地步幾乎忘了自己是在駕車,開始玩電話,開一些奇怪外星人短片我們看,雙手很多時都離開軚盤,別忘記我們當時是在高速公路上面的,一個唔該大吉利是,就炒粉一鑊熟了。我當時已經沒有興趣聽他說甚麼,只是緊緊握住車門扶手,身體盡向後靠,心想有甚麼事都起碼減少撞擊。我當時真的有一刻想自己是會死的,一生人也沒有跟死亡感覺上這麼靠近過。最後我寫到這篇稿當然平安無事(真是上帝保祐),但真是一生人中最長最長的車程。

最後他履行承諾在Heathrow Airport放下我們,還要很友善的跟我們微笑揮手say goodbye,心中真是打了個突。平安抵步,我們真是癲的,竟然又想截順風車回市中心,但由於交通大繁忙沒有人肯停車,就到附近的地鐵站,找了個好心路人替我們買票回市中心了。

活動雖然刺激好玩,截順風車的體驗也是畢生難得,但現在想起還心慌慌。下次再玩類似的,都要三思後行了。

English Books Reading List

We here at Hong Kong Education Blog cannot emphasize more the importance of reading to one’s English abilities!

So with this blog post, we are giving you a list of suggested books that sort by difficulty so everyone can find suitable books for themselves :).

Do you have any good books you want to share?

Just e-mail us at hkeduBlog@gmail.com