So you went through the scholarship paperwork, and are now scheduled for an interview. What do you do next?
Interviews are a very critical part of scholarship application, and it is important to be prepared as much as possible. Don’t fret if you think you’re bad at interviews – everyone can always find ways to improve so long as they take the steps to do so!
Ready to take your interviewing skills to the next level? Here are five tips to help you ace that scholarship interview!
Know who you are
This is harder than it sounds. While many think they know themselves, you’ll be surprised to find out that a lot of students fail to properly answer very basic questions about themselves. For example, many students do not know how to answer questions that ask about their strengths and weaknesses, often stuttering or going around in circles.
Spend some time knowing yourself. Take time to reflect and get to know yourself beyond your interests. It’s not an easy thing to do, but is a necessary process to be good at interviews.
To start, jot down the following items:
- What subjects are you good or weak at?
- How do you spend your free time?
- Cite extra-curricular, organizational work, volunteer work, hobbies, talents, and skills.
- What achievements are you most proud of?
- What experiences are you most disappointed about?
After answering those items, try answering in 3-4 sentences this perennial statement in interviews: “Tell us about yourself.”
Going through this process will help you spot a pattern, which should help you a lot during your interviews.
Understand the power of stories
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself – it’s not bragging at all! Many people are afraid to talk about their strengths and talents, thinking that it might make them look arrogant. Don’t worry about this – you are in an interview after all! It is your job to present yourself.
A way to make this process easier is to use the power of stories as a way to communicate your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you wanted to talk about your leadership skills, elaborate how you demonstrated leadership through stories. Not only will stories make yourself more believable to the interviewer, stories also tend to stick to memory better than just descriptions and adjectives can. So go out and prepare your stories!
Bonus tip: Here’s an outline you can follow for your stories to make it more organized by using what we call the “C-A-R method”:
- Context: What was happening?
- Action: What did you do?
- Result: What happened?
Be the best version of yourself and acknowledge the truth
Always be yourself. The common mistake of many students is to think that they need to adjust to what the interviewer wants to hear.
This is okay to a certain point. You can adjust the level of energy or method of delivery depending on who’s talking to you. However, you should never adjust your stories or what your “strengths / weaknesses” are just to tell a person what you think they want to hear.
Not only will this be difficult and confusing for you, but it’s also bad to assume what the other person wants. It’s never good to assume! Just be the best version of yourself, both the good and the bad! This will help you come off as more genuine and likeable.
Be clear about what you want, and why you want it
Why do you want the scholarship? Why do you want to study and finish this certain course? What do you want to do after graduating? Understanding your dreams and aspirations is just as important as knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
Think about it: there are a limited number of scholarship opportunities available, so providers want to make sure that funding goes to the proper candidate. Being a proper candidate does not mean being the brightest or the most accomplished, but being the one who can benefit the most from the scholarship.
So why do you think you deserve a scholarship? Start by articulating your goals in life.
It doesn’t have to be set in stone for now, as that will definitely change years down the line. But having a broad direction will help your interviewer see that you have goals and ambitions, and that you can make the most use out of their help. That is key to acing that scholarship interview.
So how do you even begin to think about all these heavy questions? Start by just asking yourself a few basic ones and work from there. Here are a few things to start off with:
- What do you want to do after graduation?
- What do you aim to achieve 5 years after graduation?
- What is your lifelong ambition?
- Why is this your ambition?
- How will finishing this course help you get to these goals?
Confidence comes with preparation
The final tip is simple: be confident! You may think that some people are naturally better at speaking than others, and that shy people have a disadvantage during interviews. That’s not true at all! Plenty of “shy” introverts have done very well during interviews, and a lot of that comes from preparation.
So long as you can prepare and answer the questions in a clear, organized, and genuine manner, you should be able to impress your interviewer. A successful interview is characterized by getting your point across, and not simply by being talkative. In fact, it is better to strike a conversation with your interviewer. Listen to their cues and wait for them to finish their sentences. Overtalking can be seen as a sign of nervousness.
Other things to enhance confidence? Try talking in the mirror and being conscious about your body language. Ask a friend or family member to observe you.
Practice, prepare, and be aware of your habits, and you will do very well.
These are just a few simple tips to help you ace that scholarship interview. Most of these items are very doable and just require you to set aside some time to reflect and to prepare. With enough effort and commitment, you should be able to impress your interviewer and land that scholarship.
After all, you’ll be talking about the topic most familiar and closest to your heart: YOU!