As stated before on this website, the application process for national scholarships is an involved process. Oftentimes, national scholarship competitions will require at least one face-to-face interview between the candidate and the selection committee. Getting an interview is a big step and a big deal. Not all applicants are invited to an interview. So if you get an interview, this means that your application has made it through the initial round of deliberations and is now part of a smaller pool of applicants. Great! And yikes. For while the competition pool is smaller, it is also stiffer. More preparation will be needed.
If you get an interview, you should know that it is a great honor, and you should be more excited and proud than stressed. But you will also need to "train" for the experience. We at the National Scholarship Resource Center are here to help you to prepare for the interview. Be sure to get in touch with us as soon as you find out so that, together, we can get you ready. Below you will find some brief guidelines to get you started for the interview preparation.
The interviewing committee will be interested in your capacity to engage in stimulating intellectual dialogue that reveals your capacity to reflect on a variety of topics and situations. The committee wants to see your mind working and experience a unique and active intellectual curiosity, whether it be about your topic of study, the country you propose to visit, or current world political affairs. Study your personal essay and be prepared to elaborate on what you've written in that essay. Try to anticipate what kinds of questions you might be asked on the basis of your personal statement. Know your current events and be prepared to talk about national and international affairs. The committee will not be interested in what view you hold, but they will want to get a sense of you as an informed, engaged person. Your views should be considered, measured, and well-thought-out. If you have applied for a study-abroad grant and claim to have proficiency in a language, be prepared to demonstrate that proficiency. You may also be asked more general questions such as, "Who was Cecil Rhodes?" "What are you currently reading?" or "Why have you chosen to study chemistry at Stamford (and not, for example, MIT)?" Do your best to anticipate what kinds of questions you might be asked.
Your attitude should be positive and polite, although you should not feel the need to temper your convictions and passion for your studies and life goals. Your responses to questions should be relatively brief: six to ten well-shaped sentences. If you find yourself drifting off into a tangent, stop yourself, let the committee know that you could elaborate further on the point later, and get back on track. You want to keep the committee interested and your goal is to answer the question both substantively and directly. If you are interrupted by an interviewer -- do not be thrown. Listen and respond calmly. Interruptions can be good indicators of how you conduct yourself in a high-level conversation, which is ultimately what the interview is modeled after.
Dress and Punctuality
Wear understated, professional dress and make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare. Upon arrival, find a bathroom and check your appearance in a mirror. Every little detail counts and you do not want anything to detract from your talents and accomplishments.