How to Prepare for a Scholarship Interview

You submitted a stellar application and now are proceeding to the personal interview stage of the scholarship application process. Prepare for questions and for circumstances as much as possible before the interview. However, remember that you cannot plan every detail ahead of time and expect them to all work out as planned. Little glitches happen to the most organised person, but stay cool under pressure and you will impress the judges even more.

Determine appropriate clothing in advance. Ensure that clothing is clean, pressed, has no missing buttons, tags or threads showing. Dress to the level of the interview panel. Some may dress casually--some may not. Contact the organisation's secretary ahead of time and ask for her input on appropriate attire. Be considerate and friendly in your communications with her.

Know where you are going--plan the trip ahead of time. Check the local traffic for that area around the time of the interview. Add 15 to 20 minutes to travel time to allow for problems that may occur. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early, if possible.

Learn as much as possible about the scholarship organisation. Understand its goals and motivations and connect your personal experiences, interests and future plans with its mission and work. Learn as much as you can about the judges on the scholarship committee.

Know thyself is a common enough phrase but it is most important during the interview process. Be able to fully communicate schooling plans, career goals, personal beliefs and philosophies as scholarship interview panellists look to help people that are already helping themselves and moving toward personal goals, with or without the scholarship.

Practice answers to some of the common questions. Practice with a friend or group of friends until comfortable with the questions. These questions may include things like "what do you plan to do with your education," or "where do you see yourself three years after graduation?" The interview process is a good way for the scholarship judges to get the feel of you and to determine if the scholarship award is a good investment. Be humorous and graceful in your responses. Express confidence, clarity of thought, vision and personal strengths.

Talk to past recipients of the scholarship if possible. Discover recipient's experiences during the selection process. Ask about the questions they were asked to get a better understanding of what kinds of candidates are awarded scholarships. Ask them about personal interests and hobbies.

Figure out what it was about you that qualified you as a finalist and enhance those attributes--talking about them during the interview process. Finalists already have the criteria the scholarship panel desires. Establish yourself with them. Listen to questions carefully. Ask for clarification if you are unsure of the question's direction.

Remain confident and graceful if you arrive late or are covered in ketchup stains from lunch. Let the interviewers know that you are sorry if you arrive late, explain the reasoning behind the tardiness, but let them know that you are ready to move forward if they are.

Make a good impression. Be confident, but be yourself. Share your passion, if it's relevant to the scholarship and your course of study. Answer questions honestly and directly. If experiencing a momentary set back--let them know that the question is a good one and you have several possible answers--give them the best one, keeping in mind organizational goals. Be as honest and forthright as possible--keep a sense of humour and don't try to convince the panel of something you don't believe yourself.

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About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.