By Christopher Geno
It’s the scholarship we all dream of landing: offered by a prestigious organization, worth thousands of dollars, and maybe full tuition for a year or more. Chances are that if you apply for a big scholarship like this, you might have to go in for a scholarship interview.
Scholarship interviews usually happen after several rounds of cuts and are reserved for the best-qualified candidates to meet with a selection committee. If you’ve been asked to come in for an interview, you’re probably close to the top of the selection pile. Read up on these scholarship interview techniques and take home the prize.
1. Prepare Beforehand
Scholarship interviews, like job interviews, happen all the time. While your interviewer will most likely have a few questions specific to the scholarship and maybe a few offbeat ones you won’t expect, there will probably be some very familiar questions.
- How have you demonstrated leadership?
- What is one of your greatest strengths or weaknesses?
- Why did you choose this school?
- Describe an experience that has been meaningful to your life.
Know what your answers to these questions well before you enter the room.
2. Stay Confident and Relaxed
It’s natural to be nervous. Scholarship interviews can be a little intimidating and the interviewers know that. It’s important to remember that being interviewed most likely means that you are one of the top finalists for the scholarship. You obviously deserve to be there! Think of your interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation. Make eye contact, maintain good posture, ask questions and answer confidently.
3. Honesty is the Best Policy
You hear it all the time: Just be you. What does it mean? It means answer questions honestly and respectfully. Don’t try to make up a story or an answer that you think someone will like.
On a similar note, if an interviewer asks a question that you genuinely cannot think of an answer for, don’t waste everyone’s time with clichés and non-answers. Simply say you don’t know or that you’d have to think about it for a bit longer. Interviewers always prefer an honest student than someone who is trying to trick them or make up an answer.
4. Develop Opinions and Share Them
It’s best to avoid controversial topics and heated political issues. Outside of that, part of expressing your enthusiasm and personality is having an opinion. Questions on the state of education, leadership and current events are common topics for scholarship interviews. If you have an opinion and you share it eloquently, you show the interviewer that you are an intelligent, thoughtful individual.
5. Remember to Be On Time
Know where and how far away your interview is. Never be late. Of course, a student who is late to an interview can still do very well and even earn the scholarship, but you are definitely hurting your chances at a good first impression. Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Try to be no more than 10 minutes early.
- Small scholarships can be very effective for reducing college costs, but most do not require interviews.
- Stay on top of current and cultural events, and think about your interests outside of school or your career. Successful interviewees can usually discuss many topics and you never know what might come up.
- Always be positive about yourself but avoid boasting.
- Practice with a friend, parent, teacher or anyone willing to help you.