Many are called, but few are chosen. This is the reality you have to face when you apply for a scholarship. Since there are limited slots offered to scholars, the school officials make sure they pick the cream of the crop.
After you submit your requirements, you’ll be heading to the most grueling part of the process: the interview!
Being qualified in the interview phase means the scholarship committee has seen potential in you. Now, you have to prove your capability to them face-to-face by answering their questions diligently.
Here is a list of common scholarship interview questions and how to best answer them (with some insider tips from actual scholars!):
1. “Can you please introduce yourself?”
The interview panel already has a copy of your resume and supporting documents. So why do they have to ask this?
Mhay Siglos, a San Martin de Porres scholar from the University of Santo Tomas, shares that interviewers want to verify the information you submitted. It is also their way to observe how you project yourself to other people.
Include the following details: your name, organizations joined and positions held, skills, and interests. You may also share the reason for your application briefly.
2. “Why should we choose you?”
At this point, you’ll be “selling” yourself to the interviewers by sharing your qualities and achievements to prove that you deserve the scholarship. But how do you talk about yourself without sounding arrogant?
Siglos suggests, “Be factual. There is nothing wrong about sharing your achievements if they are true. But punctuate your answers by saying that you have yet a lot of things to learn and you are eager about them.”
On the other hand, if you think you lack extracurricular activities in your resume, don’t think of it as a disadvantage. And don’t lie about it either. Instead, tell the panel about your reason for not having too many extracurricular activities.
Perhaps it’s your shy personality or coping difficulties. You can present these weaknesses as an opportunity for improvement. You could tell them that this is finally the time for you to get out of your comfort zone.
Confidence in one’s achievements is a good thing. But humility when admitting one’s lack of experience is also commendable. It indicates self-awareness that leads to growth.
3. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
If you’re a people person, say it. If you aren’t doing well in a time-pressured task, admit it as well. Keep in mind that they are looking for students that are willing to learn—not perfect ones because they don’t exist.
This question also allows the panel to have a realistic assessment of the tasks they can assign to you later on.
It’s good to also ask your peers, teachers, and parents about your strengths and weaknesses.
For Angel Dueñas, a former Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) scholar, “asking about other people’s impressions or opinion about yourself means you’re receptive to feedback. It’s a quality that school officials look for in a student, proof that the student is open-minded to difficult situations.”
Listing down your strengths and weaknesses will also help you organize your ideas and understand yourself more. Remember, a strong sense of self builds confidence!
4. “Are you willing to sacrifice your free time working as a scholar?”
When you are a working scholar or student assistant, you will be spending a required number of hours in school offices. And there is no denying it could get tiring and become an obstacle to your academics.
Acknowledge the tight schedule you’ll have as a scholar, but follow this up by saying that your skills in time management and decision-making will help you manage.
“Being optimistic in your statements reflects your positive attitude!” says Dueñas.
5. “Who is your inspiration in life?”
Family and friends are the top answers for this question. While there is nothing wrong with that, Dueñas believes it is more effective if you think of adding a striking or peculiar answer so you will be easily remembered.
Who or what else inspires you? A greek god? Harry Potter? Martin Luther King Jr.? Your dream of being an astronaut? Travelling to Paris? Stretch your mind!
While you are expected to be truthful, it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be creative!
These are only a few possible questions in your scholarship interview. You can research further or ask your scholar friends. You can also acquaint yourself with the current issues in society, just in case the scholarship providers want to assess your social awareness.
Most importantly, refrain from memorizing your answers. Let your answers flow naturally and speak from the heart. In this way, you will be able to express yourself freely and spark a strong connection with the interview committee.
Now that you’re familiar with the basic scholarship interview questions, you can read up on more helpful tips to boost your confidence!