Have you been asked to interview for a scholarship? Congratulations! Scholarships can help pay your tuition, or perhaps even give you a free ride. First, though, you may have to get through at least one, and maybe more, interviews.
How Do You Prepare for a Scholarship Interview?
1. Know the Type of Interview
- Single Interviewer: At times, one person will interview you.
- Panel: For certain scholarships, you’ll be talking to more than one interviewer at a time, perhaps three or four. Often, the panel consists of different school representatives. For instance, you might be interviewed by an admissions officer, a faculty member, a student, and an alum.
- Day or Half Day: Some programs will ask you to participate in a series of interviews throughout the day. In this case, you’ll have two or more interviews.
- Phone or Video: Sometimes you’ll have a phone or video interview. This can be with one or more people.
- Group: Sometimes you might interview as part of a group of candidates. In this case, the interviewers are observing how you interact with your peers as well as listening to how you answer the questions.
Usually, you’ll be told the type of interview to expect. Read the information carefully, and if you still have questions give them a call.
2. Know About the Scholarship
You’ll be expected to know everything you can about the scholarship. So read the website and do your research.
- Know who or what it’s named for and what it provides.
- Know its goals, mission statement and values, and be able to explain how you reflect those values.
- Look for people who have received the scholarship and see what they’re doing now.
3. Understand the Industry
If the scholarship is connected to an industry, learn about that industry. For example, The Wilson College of Textiles at North Carolina State University provides undergraduate scholarships to students due to the support of the North Carolina Textile Foundation. So knowing about the textile industry is a key component of being successful in their interviews.
4. Master Interview Basics
Start by preparing like you would for a regular college interview. You’ll need to be able to talk about what you’re interested in studying, why you want to go to this school, and your positive qualities and strengths. You should also have an example ready for each of these:
- Your ability to lead
- Your ability to work as part of a team
- Your ability to overcome obstacles
- Your ability to problem solve
Because it’s a scholarship interview, I would also add examples of scholarship, service, and character.
(Need more basic interview prep? Check out my post Top Interview Tips for Teens)
5. Master Scholarship-Related Interview Questions
In addition to knowing about the scholarship itself, you should be able tell them why you deserve this scholarship, how you reflect its goals and values, and how you will contribute to their program, now and in the future.
Here Are Some Common Scholarship Interview Questions:
Tell me about yourself.
What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
How have you been a leader or displayed leadership?
What are you interested in studying?
Which service project are you most proud of?
Give me an example of a time you overcame an obstacle.
How would your friends/teachers describe you?
What is your favorite book?
What current events interest you?
What do you do for fun?
What do you know about this scholarship, or who/what it’s named after?
What can you tell me about the type of program you’d be admitted to?
How will you contribute to our school/to the scholarship program?
How do you reflect our scholarship’s values/mission?
Why do you deserve this scholarship?
Why should we choose you over someone else?
Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?
Do you have questions for me?
6. Anticipate Questions You Haven’t Prepared For
You can’t anticipate every question. Questions like “What’s your spirit animal” and “What three people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?” are meant to make you think. Don’t be thrown if you get one. Take a deep breath, pause, and think for a moment, and answer in a way that best reflects you and your interests.
7. Ending the Interview
When the interview is over, shake everyone’s hand. Look each person in the eye, smile, say thank you and tell them that you enjoyed the experience.
Get everyone’s contact information and send a thank you note afterwards. If you want to be even more impressive, add a personal touch—I tell my students to bring note cards to their interviews and leave hand written thank you notes at the desk before they leave.
Sharon Epstein is a Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, teaching students around the world how to master interview skills, write resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. I work with students in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.
Do you have questions or want to schedule a personal tutoring session? Contact me, I’d love to hear from you.