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

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!