What is the purpose of a Fellowship or Scholarship interview?
Like any interview, a scholarship or fellowship interview gives the review committee the final opportunity to meet with top candidates. This is the last step in the process of deciding who to award a fellowship/scholarship to. The review committee has come to know you quite well on paper and now is the time to meet in person and have a real conversation with you. Like all other interviews you will participate in, this is your opportunity to say why you are the best candidate for this prestigious opportunity, how are you going to be a change agent, make a difference, and be a strong leader. It is also time to discuss your previous experiences, education, and skill sets and how they specifically match what the respective fellowship/scholarship is looking for.
Possible pre-interview social event
Depending on the fellowship/scholarship there may be a pre-interview social event. This typically takes place for the Rhodes, British Marshall, and Rotary Scholarships. This is a social event, not an event that should feel hostile or make you overly nervous. It is a time to release your nerves and enjoy conversation. The individuals you’ll be meeting with through the pre-interview social event and the interview are people who are genuinely interested in you and care about you and your future ambitions.
How do you prepare for the interview?
Preparing for the interview is one of the most important aspects of the entire process and requires dedication and a lot of practice. As you begin to prepare there are three important things to look at:
- Know Thyself:
- Think about how you would answer generic questions such as “tell me about yourself,” “how would define your personality,” “what makes you unique or different,” “what challenges you,” “what are you future aspirationsm” and “what motivates you.”
- Review all of your application materials and be able to defend and support everything you’ve provided. Prepare to provide tangible examples to support a question about anything on your resume/CV or in your appliction.
- Look at all aspects of your college experience, both academic and extra-curricular, and ask these questions of yourself: What did you learn about yourself? How did you change? How did each and every experience you were a part of shape who you are as a person today?
- Know About The World:
- To be well prepared for your interview you should be keeping up-to-date on current world affairs. This area, often, can be the more difficult component in the interview. You may be asked about a specific issue happening in the world and need to state your knowledge and/or opinion on the matter (what your opinion encompasses is not the issue, but being able to make an articulate description is necessary).
- Some of the best ways to stay up-to-date on world affairs is by regularly following the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, NPR, and other similar sources.
- Know the Foundation:
- As you prepare for your interview set aside time to thoroughly re-research the organization. Memorize the criteria and what they are specifically looking for in their candidates, their mission, vision, and values.
- Look at previous awardees, advice that they’ve provided, and their profile/research topic.
BE HONEST – If you do not know the answer to a particular question do not try to make up a response or a fictitious answer, rather be completely honest and simply state that you do not know.
BE AWARE – If you are someone that takes a strong political, religious, or any other stance on a topic, be aware of whether your point of view precludes the committee from determining whether you are able to engage multiple points of view. Having an informed opinion shouldn’t mean you aren’t willing to understand and talk about others’ points of view.