- Scholarships 101
- Tips & Tutorials
- Student Loans & Grants
Scholarship Interview Advice
The scholarship interview is an ideal time to show that you are more than just paper credentials, essays and recommendations. In most cases, you won't be invited to have a scholarship interview unless you are being considered as a finalist.
During this in-person or telephone meeting, the interviewer (typically a member of the scholarship selection committee) will ask you questions. It’s the perfect time to highlight your personality and assets as well as to communicate your knowledge of the sponsoring organization. You can gain insight and perspective into the sponsoring organization by speaking with member or employees, reading the website or by learning about past winners. That insight or perspective can give you an advantage. It is also an excellent opportunity to convey your interest in the sponsor and to ask insightful questions and show your good sense of humor, maturity and interpersonal skills.
Following the meeting, the interviewer may write up a report describing his or her conversation and impressions. The report typically focuses on the candidate’s:
- Passion -- initiative, curiosity, motivation, ability to be self-directed, willingness to take well-calculated risks, depth of commitment, and ability to make the most of situations
- Personal Qualities -- contributions and potential for future contributions to the community, leadership, confidence, teamwork & team building, strength of character, resilience, sense of humor, social skills and verbal ability
- Context -- personal situation – family, high school, community; special accomplishments and/or circumstances
- Potential to be a Good Match -- fit for the scholarship and with the sponsor.
When you approach the interview, keep in mind these actual examples of common words used by interviewers to describe college candidates: achiever, active, arrogant, average, awkward, bland, boring, clever, creative, crowd follower, determined, difficult to interview, disinterested, dull, energetic, enthusiastic, exceptional, exciting, friendly, goal setter, go-getter, happy, independent, lacking social skills, lazy, leader, likeable, lively, negative attitude, nervous, nonchalant, passive, persevering, personable, positive, self-confident, shows initiative, social, solid, talkative, team-player, winning attitude.
If you have composed a college resume, it’s a great idea to bring it with you to the interview. If you offer it to the interviewer during you initial hellos, he or she will gain some immediate knowledge and perspective about you. You resume will also provide a good basis for conversation talking points that can result in a more substantive conversation. Furthermore, your resume will probably be very helpful to the interviewer when he or she refers back to it to reflect on your interview and compose the interview report.
Before the interview, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the sponsoring organziation by reading the brochure and/or doing some research on the Internet.
Finally, make sure you can “talk the talk” about anything and everything on your resume. It’s a good idea to practice for the interview by thinking about answers to some frequently asked questions:
- Why do you want to study.... XYZ?
- What has been your best/worst experience in high school?
- What are you most proud of?
- What is your strongest/weakest point?
- Tell me about your self / family / friends / interests / favorite class/ goals / activities / goals for the future
- What’s your favorite book, author, TV show, movie or web site?
- What would you improve about your high school?
- What do you know about the sponsors' organization?
- How did you learn about the scholarship opportunity?
- Have you applied for other scholarships?
- Have you ever rebounded from a setback? Describe how?
Try to relax and let your best personality shine through. Be polite, on time and dress appropriately. Even if the interviewer tells you that casual attire is fine, don’t show up with ripped or rumpled clothing! You can make a good impression by being yourself, acting interested, upbeat and asking good questions.
If you have the opportunity at the end, and it feels right, consider asking the interviewer how he/she assesses your qualifications for the scholarship.