The news that you secured a scholarship interview was probably met with joy, followed by considerable trepidation as it finally set in. Being selected for an interview out of hundreds of other applicants is a good first step towards clinching the scholarship, but the thought of being grilled in front of a panel of interviewers is bound to make even the most confident individual falter.
Start Preparing Early
To avoid this, you should begin preparing for the scholarship interview at once. Many scholarship providers hold talks in schools to help students find out more about their scholarships and encourage them to apply. They also often invite existing scholars to share their experiences. You should seize the opportunity to speak to these scholars and gain insights into the interview process. This will help you get a better idea of what qualities the interviewers are looking for in a scholar, learn about some possible questions and enable you to prepare for them.
In addition, you can seek out your friends or seniors who have gone through a scholarship interview themselves. Regardless of whether their application was successful, they can be a ready source of valuable information. Use this opportunity to pick up some pointers from them and learn from their mistakes.
Alternatively, another source of information would be the Human Resource (HR) personnel or scholarship officer who contacted you about the interview. If possible, get more details from them about what the selection process involves, such as the number of interview rounds, who your interviewers may be or if any formal assessments will be conducted.
Research, Research, Research
This is a rule that applies to all interviews, scholarship-related or otherwise. It’s important to possess a working knowledge of the scholarship provider or organisation as a failure to do your research will only signify your lack of interest.
A good place to start is the organisation’s website, where you can glean basic information about its mission and core values. Next, try to gain access to organisation publications such as annual reports, newsletters, brochures or even press releases. This will provide you with an idea about the immediate issues facing the organisation, the general direction it is heading in and perhaps even information about the organisation structure and its various divisions and departments.
It’s also good to demonstrate a clear understanding of what the scholarship entails. Many scholarships bind scholars to serve for a certain number of years after graduating, and scholarship providers will be looking for individuals who understand that this is no trivial application and who possess the commitment to see it through.
Anticipate What You Will Face
It is also a good idea to make a list of the questions that the interviewers may ask. This will make it easier for you to draft your responses to these potential questions and familiarise yourself with them.
You should also try to incorporate skills and qualities in your answers that you think the organisation is looking for. For instance, mentioning your time as a project or student leader is a good way to show that you possess leadership qualities. Look for openings to highlight your strengths, but do not embellish or exaggerate your achievements.
Ultimately, you want to go into the interview calm, composed and well-informed. With some careful thought, planning and research, these preparations can give you a confidence boost and help calm your nerves as you will go into the interview with a decent idea of what to expect.
Anticipate What You Will Face
And of course, regardless of the type of interview you are preparing yourself for, there are a few basic things you have to keep in mind to ensure that you are one step closer to your goals.
Ensure that you are at your interview location no later than the assigned time. It wouldn’t hurt to reach earlier than your interviewer intended – but a good time to arrive at your location is no earlier than twenty minutes before the assigned time because you would not want your interviewer to feel burdened by the thought of holding somebody up. If you arrive at your location extremely early, take the time to neaten yourself up in the washroom or explore what could possibly be your future work building.
It is also important to show your appreciation to your interviewers for their time by offering a simple ‘Thank You’. Conclude the interview with a firm handshake and leave the room confident that you have done your best and with a pleasant smile.