Getting admission to your dream college is an accomplishment in itself. Many prestigious educational institutions provide financial aid to their students by offering or opening scholarships. And that is just like a cherry on top. However, more often than not, these educational institutions require students to present themselves for a personal interview before procuring the scholarship. A scholarship interview can give the student stress, and the stress can affect your performance. It would be best if you went a bit prepared for the questions they might ask in the interview. Having an idea of what you might be faced with beforehand gives you an edge over others, and you go for it with more confidence and less anxiety.
SCHOLARSHIP INTERVIEW TIPS
So, here is a list of scholarship interview questions that will help you prepare better for your interview:
- Tell us about yourself/ Briefly introduce yourself.
This is the most common question you are asked in an interview. And this is probably the first question they ask. The point of asking this question is not that you ramble out your whole life story in a two to three-minute monologue. Rather this question is more like a gauntlet thrown down to you, giving you a chance to highlight the points that set you apart from the crowd. Mention your main areas of interest and the objective of applying for the scholarship program stating how it serves your interests. Try not to include any unnecessary information, and the answer should not take longer than a minute.
Example: Jerrika, and I am currently a freshman at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, NYU. I enjoy my study there as I get to take Applied Psychology. Apart from academics, I find myself engaging more and more with technology. My interest developed into a passion as I started a YouTube channel over a year ago where I share information and latest updates in the technology and robotics niches. Besides reading and listening to music, I spend my time sketching.
As you can see, the answer ticks all the important points the interview might want to know about you, that is, your academic pursuits and interests.
- What extracurricular activities do you enjoy or involve in?
This is yet another common question asked in a scholarship interview. The objective is to dig a little deeper into your interests apart from academics, to see if you are responsible, how well you perform in a group, and evaluate your social skills. Your answer should include a list of your school’s extracurricular activities or your community, followed by your accomplishments.
Example: I am currently on the school’s baseball team. I play quarterback, and I go with my coach and assist him in training the community’s Ivy League Team. When at home, I make sure that I visit the gym as frequently as I can. I train kids at the gym who want to take up boxing in the future. I sing with the choir in church on Sunday Masses. I enjoy these three activities very much as they allow me to socialize with other people, share my knowledge with them, and learn.
The answer clearly states the extracurricular activities the interviewee involves in, that he or she has an outgoing personality and works well in a group.
- What do you think are your strengths?
Most interviewees confuse this question with the above-discussed ones and start counting their interests again, which is a blunder in itself. The question is clearly about your strengths and the purpose to ask this is to know if you are self-aware or not. Mention a couple of your strengths and then give an example of an incident where you applied that strength. Do not be humble about yourself.
Example: I think my greatest strength is that I can get people to come around to an idea and persuade them, and I am not scared to lead. Once we had to give a presentation on film appreciation. The topic the team decided on was too vast for us to perform enough research and then bind it all up. I ran the idea that we should change the topic and then, I suggested a new topic. The group understood my concern and came around to drop the previous topic and go further with the one I put forth. As the days were too few, I decided to take charge of the project and lead the team as I had some ideas and research done on the topic. We did well with our presentation.
As you can see, the answer stated two of the interviewee strengths backed up with a real-life incident to support the claim.
- What do you think are your weaknesses?
Again, this question is another common one. The purpose of asking this question is again to evaluate your self-awareness quotient. Being able to point one’s weaknesses is as crucial as knowing one’s strengths to excel at anything. Mention your weakness and tell how you are trying to overcome it. Back your answer with an example.
Example: I find it difficult to express myself well in a crowd. I hold back even when I have something worth mentioning. Although, I am working on changing it. Earlier, I stayed silent in the class, and my high school teachers complained about it all the time. But now, I try to be more participative in the class, and the change must have shown as my teachers have praised me for it.
So, the answer ticks off all the points you need to keep in mind while answering this question.
- Do you have any role models? If yes, who?
This is yet another pretty common question asked in a scholarship interview. The purpose of asking this question is to determine what traits you admire and if they are positive. The traits you admire in other people speak volumes about your own personality. It indicates what traits you look up to and wish to inculcate in yourself. Mention a role model and what traits in that person make them your role model. Try to point out the flaws in that person and nobody is perfect and then show they try to overcome them.
Example: I look up to my uncle, who manages his own plumbing company. In the initial days, he used his garage as his work station. He’d been through a tough phase when he lost his job. No one supported his decision to start a plumbing company in the beginning, not even his spouse. But he managed to pull it off. I admire how determined and hard-working he is. Although, sometimes, he has serious clashes with his spouse. I want to inculcate his determination and hard-working spirit but also try not to spurn my relationships.
So here, the applicant chose his uncle as his or her role. The applicant clearly states the qualities he or she admires about him and points out a flaw that the applicant wishes to avoid taking in. The structure makes your answer richer and thoughtful.
- Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
This question is not only a common question in scholarship interviews but job interviews as well. The interviewer asks this question to see if you have a vision and an ambition. They probably mean to see if their vision blends with yours. It is fine if you are not certain where you see yourself in the coming years, but we all dream a certain life for ourselves. You may focus on the service and career accomplishments more than on personal accomplishments.
Example: I am passionate about technology and robotics. I want to pursue it professionally by interning with Dell during the fall internship. I see myself in Silicon Valley working as a Robotics engineer by then. With research opportunities and scholarship funding, I wish to design the world’s most intelligent robots in five years.
Notice how the applicant richens the answer by stating his vision, how this scholarship will help him or her accomplish it and what the applicant’s ambition is.
- What was your favorite subject in school?
The question means to dig deeper into your academic interests. Your favorite subject indicates your inclinations and your thought process. Basically, the interview wants to know your learning methodology. A person whose favorite subject in school is English, and one whose favorite subject is Math, will have very different mindsets and styles of approaching situations and studies. Your answer will give the interview an idea of your mindset.
Example: Math is my favorite subject. I have had an intrinsic affinity for Math since I was in primary school. I enjoy working with numbers, exponents, and such. I was in fourth grade when I discovered that I am quite swift at calculations. Gradually, I developed an interest in Math and began challenging myself at solving math problems faster than the last time. Over the years, my affinity has only intensified.
You can notice how the applicant vividly explains what and why his or her favorite subject is. The more facts you add to the answers as examples, the more believable and richer it becomes.
- Share a meaningful experience you had in school or class.
This is not a commonly asked question in scholarship interviews although, the question might reveal a great deal about your attitude toward learning new things. Discuss an experience that was new and enlightening for you, show how you were open to it, and how it impacted your growth positively.
Example: I was in ninth grade when my science teacher found a really fun to conduct a test. He divided the class into four groups. Each group was to send one person for each round. Then, he would ask a question, and whoever answered correctly would get two or three points. Every last one of us got to answer questions and solve word problems on the board. The experience was significant because the teacher made sure nobody is neglected, and I learned what healthy competition really is.
See how the applicant shared the experience briefly and stated why it was meaningful to him or her.
- Why did you choose this institution?
This question requires you to market yourself as being a boon for the institution. For framing an impactful answer to this question, you will need to do a little research on your part. You can visit the institution’s website to know more about the values it endorses. Rummaging through old testimonies, asking for help from an in-house scholarship student, or contacting the admission desk can help a great deal in understanding the ideals the institution stands for. Further, it would be best to correlate those values and ideals and your set of skills to prove to the interviewers that picking you would be a good choice as you can blend yourself with the institution’s vision.
Example: I am fascinated by the Information Technology program that the institution offers. It is arguably the best in the country. I’d be grateful to be a part of this esteemed institution. Also, the school has a strict honor code that implies that I need not additional security measures. And I would be close to my family if I do my schooling here.
You can see how the applicant specified his or her interest in the institution’s program is the most contributing factor in the choice backed with facts like security concerns and closeness to home. All these points make a coherent answer.
- Why do you deserve this scholarship?
This is the most common question asked in a scholarship interview and the one that the interviewers almost miss, so go well-prepared with the answer. The objective of asking this question is to see if the applicant is aware of what the scholarship entails. Your answer must reflect that you possess all the skills and qualities listed in the scholarship advert in an obvious manner. Your resonance to the traits enlisted for the scholarship must be shown with clarity because the answer will effectively influence the decision.
Example: I think I am in resonance with the scholarship advert’s traits and values. The ideals of service, helpfulness, excellence,, and innovation throughout my high school, exactly what this scholarship demonstrates. I have brought laurels to my school as a part of the baseball team. I have taught kids boxing for free. With my knowledge and interest in technology and Robotics, I plan on working very hard to achieve my dreams, bringing glory and pride to my family and the institution. The scholarship will ease very many financial worries so that I can fully focus on my dreams.
You can see how the applicant points out the ideals he or she shares with the scholarship offered. Clearly stating the qualities, counting past experiences, and discussing future aspirations is always advantageous.
- Do you have any questions for us? The interviewers make sure to allow you to add anything or ask a question. You should grab the chance and ask a question as it will show that you are inquisitive. You asking questions will hint that you are not mechanical because you not only answer questions but are capable of posing questions, too. It would be best if you had the presence of mind to ask the right question reflecting on the whole interview, not to ask a question that they suppose you know the answer to already. Ask about three to four questions.
- Yes, is there something you wish you knew when you were my age?
- What one piece of advice would you give to someone about to attend Harvard University?
- What challenges might I face in this field?
- What were the things that were the most special moments in your journey as a former scholarship recipient?
Notice that these questions show that you are excited about the scholarship and futuristic. This shows that you have not limited your planning to just receiving a scholarship, but you also look ahead to your study and life at your choice institution.
- Would you like to add anything else?
This is not a question that particularly demands a rich answer. However, it might be your chance to correct the impression on you if it has dented during the course of the interview. Use the opportunity to thank the interviewers.
Example: I think we have touched every point concerning the opportunity. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Now that you know what questions you might be facing in a scholarship interview, you also might need a tip or a few to prepare yourself better for it. Here are some tips that will help you ace your scholarship interview:
- Know your interviewers and the organization: It is always in your best interests to spend a little time researching the organization giving away the scholarship and the individual(s) you will be talking to. It will give you an upper hand over other applicants. You will know about their vision, mission, and prospective qualities they wish their students to have. A little digging on your part will have you find common grounds and open an off-script conversation with them. It will help the interviews to remember you better, thus, increasing the chances of your selection.
- Be prepared for the unexpected: Everyone prepares for questions that are more likely to be asked. Each applicant comes prepared for questions like, “introduce yourself,” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses” or “why do you think you are deserving of the scholarship.” But, a good interviewee will know that preparing for unexpected questions is important, too. Out of nowhere, you can be asked, “if you could be an insect, which one would you be?” Now, these kinds of questions need you to be on your toes. Remember how you respond can be more important than what is your response in such situations. Avoid unnecessary blabbering to make a good impression.
- Dress the part: You may find the advice repetitive, but it really does make a difference. Often it is advised to dress better than your interviewer, but it is too vague to follow. Whatever you wear, make sure you are comfortable in it. Generally, a shirt and tie are recommendable for a guy. For ladies, blazers, easy-going sweaters and cardigans with pants, and even statement dresses are among the options. Do not dress in a way that will make you look uncomfortable. Due to the pandemic, interviews have been switched to digital modes. Dress for them, too. You will be mentally prepared and zoned for an interview.
- Avoid fatuous behavior: The general rule of thumb is to be punctual and polite. Do not bite your nails, stomp your feet or appear frenzied. Do not say “no” when asked, “Do you have any questions?”. Do not break eye contact while addressing anyone from the committee. Tell them you are open to follow-up questions, and you look forward to hearing from them. Go through your application multiple times to avoid looking in it for reference when in front of the panel.
- Always end with a Thank you: It is always favorable to end an interview on a good note. Express your gratitude toward your interviewer(s) for taking the time to speak with you. Some students go to the extent of sending a thank-you note to their interviewers, which is nice. Send one if you want or write it before leaving and give it to them. You can email them or send a handwritten letter like a sweet old school student. It is totally up to you how you do it, but make you do as it shows that you are nice enough to show your appreciation.
Also read Types of Education