Interviewing for Scholarships
The idea behind any interview advice is that you can improve your skills through practice and reflection. Here are a few tips to help you get in a proper frame of mind and prepare to maximize your chances of doing well.
- Bring your ID and whatever the panel has asked you to bring.
- Pack everything you need. Print a good travel checklist from the web if necessary.
- Scout the location well ahead if possible.
- Build flextime into your travel schedule. Allow for the unexpected.
- Arrive early.
- Dress like you want to succeed. This means conservative professional attire.
- Consider packing two options for clothing.
- Your clothes should feel comfortable.
- Test drive them prior to the day.
- Do they need to be cleaned and/or pressed? Do you need to polish your shoes?
- Eat healthy food in moderation to avoid the pitfalls of being stuffed or being hungry.
- Consider taking an early walk or run.
- Discretely take some slow deep breaths before you enter.
- Spend time in advance reflecting on your goals and interests.
- Work through this Names You Should Know checklist far in advance.
- Spend years cultivating an engaged interest in contemporary issues and world events.
- Talk with others about issues that matter, including your aspirations, so that the terrain covered in an interview is not new and unfamiliar.
- Review a copy of the application you submitted.
- Know the scholarship. Know the organization that gives the award.
- Read the newspaper that morning.
- Look forward to the challenge of difficult questions. Plan to enjoy the intellectual give and take.
- Visualize a confident meeting where you successfully present yourself like the person you aspire to become.
- Smile when you enter and when you leave. At least.
- Make eye contact. Spread it around evenly.
- Show an interest. Let them see an engaged candidate.
- Do not swivel just because your chair does.
- Sit erect even if your chair leans back.
- Lean slightly forward to communicate interest.
- Pull up to the table when you sit down. The table is the playing field.
- Keep them away from your face.
- Avoid repeated tics like picking at the edge of the table.
- Let them out of your lap. Hidden hands seem tentative.
- Some gesturing: not bad. Makes you seem animated.
- Same gesture over and over again: bad. Makes you seem automated.
- Shake hands with a firm grip. Present your hand with confidence.
- The gesture is incomplete unless you smile and make eye contact.
- Remember that interviews are not lethal and they do not determine your worth as an individual.
- More deep breaths if the jitters hit you.
- Remember that every interview is practice for the next one.
- Make sure you are clearly heard. Articulate carefully. Project across the room.
- Avoid jargon and slang.
- Try not to pepper your speech with "like" or "um" or any sort of repetitive filler.
- No chewing gum.
- Budget the time you spend on any single answer.
- Pause to collect your thoughts as needed. Keep your brain ahead of your mouth.
- Especially pause before you begin an answer to make sure you know where you are headed.
- Listen carefully to each question.
- Follow general statements with concrete examples. Particulars. Details. Instances.
- Realize when you have no more to say. Dead air beats rambling. Thinking of coming to a full stop as a way of hitting the ball back over the net to your interviewer(s).
- Show respect for opposing views as you articulate your own.
- Have an introductory or concluding comment ready. Read the situation if asked for one.
- Admit it if you don't know an answer. Provide the facts or context that you do know.
- Look for opportunities within broad questions to reveal your expertise and knowledge.
- Look for opportunities to focus in on what you are passionate about.
- Negativity and cynicism never play well.
- Move on if you botch an answer.
- Almost all questions are an invitation to talk. Yes or No is insufficient.
- Filter your strengths through your experience and goals. No bragging.
- Don't try to guess what the judges want to hear. Show them how you think.
- Ask for clarification if the question is unclear or too broad.
- Try not to introduce topics about which you are unprepared to talk.
- Do not ask the judges topical questions. It eats your time if they answer.
- Thank the judges for the opportunity to talk with them.
- Show your positive side.
- Make it feel more like a discussion. Less like an oral exam.
- The judges want to get to know you through the discussion. Let them.
- Have the confidence to sound as sharp and insightful as you really are.
Please contact Beth Powers at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would to talk further about how to prepare for interviews associated with merit scholarships.