As one of the main components of many competitive scholarships, applicants are required to interview with a selection committee. This is your opportunity to enable your unique personality, interests, and talents shine through. Before your interview day, try to prepare as much as possible in order to keep your nerves to a minimum. The questions below are some of the most commonly asked questions of scholarship candidates. Try to imagine that someone is asking you these questions and practice formulating articulate responses.
What are your areas of strength and weakness? Students are often quick to name their strengths. Usually, your areas of strength are evident from your transcripts, resume, or personal statement. Thus, when answering this question, try to personalize your response with a short anecdote or story that will be new to the selection committee. Instead of saying you enjoyed helping people by volunteering, describe a meaningful experience. Perhaps more difficult is choosing an area of weakness. In general, it is important to choose one that is true and also demonstrate to the committee that you have taken steps to remediate the area of weakness and that you are optimistic about your potential for progress in this area.
Tell me about yourself. This is perhaps one of the easiest questions to answer since you get to choose the direction. This question is often asked at the beginning of an interview. This is your chance to let your passion come through. Thus, instead of reiterating your transcripts or C.V., talk about why you enjoy what you study, your hobbies, and your interests. Try to make a personal connection with the committee members. In general, it is also helpful to talk about things that make you unique and dissimilar to other candidates.
How would this scholarship help you achieve your goals? When answering this question, there are two main components. The first is to remember that you are only a candidate and thus, funding is not guaranteed. You should talk about the scholarship as a hypothetical possibility, not something that is certain. This seems obvious, but sometimes students forget this important aspect. Secondly, it is important to connect this scholarship with your ultimate goals. Perhaps this would enable you to spend more time on your research, more time volunteering, spend holidays with your family instead of working, or simply defray the cost of tuition. It can be helpful to have a good sense of the cost of your education (tuition, books, travel, special fees, etc.) before going into the interview. Then, you can discuss how much different components of your program will cost and give an intelligent break down of where the scholarship money will be used.
In addition to these questions, the selection committee usually will ask questions about why you are deserving of this scholarship, what career you wish to have when you graduate, and how you would fund your studies without the award. It may be helpful to role play answers to these, and other questions, with a friend or family member.