The knowledge that you have been chosen to move one step closer to clinching the scholarship on which you have set your heart is enough to trigger heart palpitations and keep you on the edge of your seat. It certainly is a very exciting time to prepare yourself for the next step forward – your interview at the Scholarship Assessment Centre (AC).
The AC assesses your strengths and abilities through various assessment techniques such as interviews, presentation exercises and essay topics. While you are unable to predict the questions that will be posed to you or the essay topics that will require you to explore, there are some things of which you should take note.
Research, Research, Research
You’ve heard this advice one time too many, but the importance of doing sufficient research cannot be emphasised enough. There is nothing more telling of your level of interest if you turn up at the AC having little knowledge about the scholarship and sponsoring organisation.
You can start by reviewing the organisation’s website to obtain information about its purpose, strategy and values, and broaden your research to understand its key challenges and current priorities. You can also scour the internet for any recent press releases or corporate e-newsletters that contain relevant, up-to-date content about the organisation’s businesses.
In addition, zoom out and read about the industry and the other players in the field. This will help you set your sponsoring organisation apart from the others in the industry and, if this doesn’t only affirm your decision to commit to the organisation, position you as a knowledgeable candidate who sees the importance of understanding the bigger picture.
It makes wise sense to anticipate the kind of questions that you will be asked and construct substantial, honest responses to them before you go for any interview. Interviewers would usually – albeit not always – draw up a set of standard questions to ask such as “When have you worked in a team?” or “How have you led a team?”
In order to succinctly describe how you have exemplified your leadership abilities in a team or in complex situations, take on the STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Results – approach to your responses. This ensures that your thoughts are outlined and you do not waffle on about irrelevant information.
Your interviewers are also likely to incorporate a group interview element in your scholarship assessment. In most cases, candidates would be given a task to accomplish as a group – anything from planning an event to coming up with a marketing strategy. Regardless of the activity, remember to be assertive yet not dominant and stretch your mindset to think creatively. Furthermore, support your fellow candidates by agreeing with those who have made a good point, branching out on someone else’s opinion and ensuring that everyone is included in the conversation. This will mark you as an excellent communicator and a good team player.
Before you go for the interview, turn an introspective eye to your life and consider your strengths, weaknesses and values. This will help you see how you are a good fit for your future job and better explain to your interviewers how your values are parallel to the broader purpose of the organisation.
In sum, as long as you are well-prepared, neatly attired and confident, you are ready to walk through that interview door. The interview at the AC is an opportunity that not many can speak about receiving, so chin up, smile and enjoy the ride.