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Ace That Scholarship Interview – Follow These 10 Foolproof Tips

Getting an interview for a scholarship is a major achievement, but don’t go in thinking you’ve got it in the bag or you could end up empty-handed.

Making it to a scholarship interview essentially means that they think you’re a fit and you’ve gotten past the gatekeepers. Your goal should be to not only present yourself as the intelligent, mature person they were envisioning when they looked over your application and read your essay, but also show them a little extra something to push yourself over the top and beat your remaining competitors.

With these foolproof tips, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do!

Don’t do anything boneheaded.

This one isn’t so much a scholarship interview tip as it is a tip for interviews and meetings in general, but it absolutely applies. Not being boneheaded includes things like: being punctual, dressing like a professional, being positive, and being polite.

Study up on them.

Is this a scholarship in a specific profession? Is it related to your major? Who founded it? Who runs it? Have previous recipients gone on to do anything notable? The more you can show that you understand who they are – especially in a complimentary way – the more impressed they’ll be. But don’t forget to…

Brush up on you.

Interviewers are likely to ask you a bunch of different logistical questions. Some of these will be background questions. Things such as your work and school experience, family information, where you ranked in your class, what your GPA was, what awards you won, and what extracurricular activities you were involved in. They will also ask future-pointed questions such as your plan for your studies and your career, and your projected expenses in school.

Know thyself.

This is similar to the above tip, but it focuses more on your beliefs and morals than on facts and figures. Why is this so important? Well, one of the reasons that interviews of any kind are so difficult is that we are required to speak intelligently about ourselves, something most of us just aren’t used to doing.

Be ready with good answers for such prompts as: tell us about yourself, describe your greatest achievement and failure, and name some strengths and weaknesses. You need to be able to paint yourself as a smart, charismatic person that is introspective enough to recognize the things you’ve done wrong and how to learn from those experiences in the future.

Hang out and make friends.

As much as it sounds like a cliché, these kinds of interviews really are all about the selection committee getting to know you. If you find yourself getting nervous, try to imagine that you are having a conversation with friends – or at the very least, with a teacher or guidance counselor you like. The goal should be to build a rapport and have a relaxed yet professional banter.

This is where learning about your interviewers ahead of time can come in handy. Maybe both of you like to ski or are fans of the same author. Bringing up these points can help you to ease into the interview.

Be enthusiastic.

One of the biggest mistakes that interviewees can make is to come across too stiff or too casual about the scholarship, not letting their excitement shine through because they’re too focused on the interview itself. Always remember that the interview is a means to an end, not the end goal itself.

Sell them on your educational plan.

If you want these people to give you money for your education, you’re going to have to give them a good reason to do so and show that you’ve really thought everything out.

Be ready to talk about where you plan on going to school, what you want to study, how long it will take you to earn your degree, and what kinds of career opportunities a degree in your field will open up for you. If the organization has a particular mission plan on a societal level, do your best to explain how getting this degree will enable you to forward their agenda.

Show how you’ve been a leader.

Most interviewers will ask this question, but even if they don’t, you should attempt to find a way to work it into the conversation, because articulating your leadership abilities is often vital to receiving a scholarship. A great place to fit this into the conversation is when you’re talking about your extracurricular activities.

But rather than listing off the ten clubs where you held leadership positions, limit yourself to one or two and speak about them in detail. Say why that club meant so much to you. Speak about things that you were able to accomplish and how that made you feel, such as earning money to go on a national trip or collecting enough food for charity to feed 100 families.

Also remember that you don’t have to actually hold a position to be a leader. A great way to show that you understand both sides can be to briefly mention your leadership positions, but detail a situation where you weren’t the official leader but still showed the qualities of leadership.

Describe what you’ve overcome.

One great way to get people on the selection committee rooting for you is to show them that you’ve had to overcome adversity to achieve success. For some people, this might be obvious – you or a family member suffer from an affliction of some sort, have endured hardships based on racism or bigotry, or worked to overcome disparities based on your financial situation. Of course, not everyone has experienced those kinds of problems, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something to talk about. Everything from the death of a loved one to being benched right before the big game can be fodder if used correctly.

Ask questions (thoughtful ones, if possible).

Often this is the final question that interviewers will ask, and it’s usually done in such an offhand manner than most interviewees just say no, happy to have survived an ordeal.

Unfortunately, this question ties in directly with how much you care about their organization and others in general. They want to see that you’ve given some thought to the award and what it’s really all about. Show them that and you’ll automatically be ahead of much of the competition.

Author Bio

Today’s guest article is provided by Aileen Pablo. Aileen is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Distance Education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career. She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines. You can find her on Google+

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One Response to “Ace That Scholarship Interview – Follow These 10 Foolproof Tips”

  1. Julian says:

    Tidy post 🙂 Asking questions at the end of the interview has just gotta be done. And I think a good fall back option if you don’t have any more specific questions is ‘where do you see the firm in five years time?’ It’s not a moronic question like ‘is there an office party at Christmas?’ and it shows you want to know more about the business.