Scholarship Interview: The Rule of Six

ScholarshipGuide Scholarship Interview: The Rule of Six

Not every applicant gets to the interview process. All your efforts in building your profile to qualify for a scholarship, your detailed application, an impressive essay, and letters of recommendation have gotten you this far. If you are already preparing for your scholarship interview, congratulations—you have gotten one foot in the door!

The thought of facing a “firing squad” interview can be intimidating, but do not overthink it. Follow these six straightforward rules to cover all grounds for your interview preparation, choosing the right words and going over your answers aloud to decrease your chance of blundering, and all will be well.

From the review panel’s point of view, here are the six things they want to know about you:

#Rule 1: Who Are You

#Rule 2: Why You Deserve This Scholarship

#Rule 3: Why You Choose Them

#Rule 4: How Will You Make the Best of This Scholarship

#Rule 5: What Are Your Thoughts Around _________

#Rule 6: Do You Have Questions for Us

#1: Who Are You

Prior to the interview, the reviewer only knows you from your application. Interviews are meant to sort out questions that get at your core personality and behaviour, giving the interviewer an indication of whether you are the right person to represent the scholarship’s ideals.

You might be tempted to recite what is on your application, but do not forget that those are details your interviewer already knows. Instead, take the stage to make a powerful introduction that speaks of your identity, keeping it short and sweet. Present a 60-second elevator pitch, highlighting what makes you unique, your special skills, interests, significant accomplishments, and how they relate to the scholarship. Here is your chance to impress.

#2: Why You Deserve This Scholarship

Differentiate yourself from the rest of the candidates. Remember, this is beyond talking about your good grades. Appeal to the panel with responses based on the goals of the scholarship. Start by acknowledging that there are many deserving students with similar achievements on paper, then talk about why you are the better or best candidate by mentioning how your strengths, passions, and professional goals align with the scholarship, giving the reviewer a good indication of future success.

If the financial situation applies, express why you need this scholarship and the impact the money would have. If it means that without a scholarship you cannot afford school, say so, but continue to sound motivated, telling the interviewer that you will exhaust every means to make it happen. Humility, honesty, and commitment are always the best policies.

#3: Why You Choose Them

Every scholarship provider would like to know why you choose them over others. There is no excuse for not doing your homework on the sponsoring organisation. Know the scholarship provider at your fingertips, what they stand for, what they do or did, and what their ideals are. Even better if you can bring up the achievements of their former scholars.

In most cases, the sponsoring organisation is large with different departments involved in all sorts of work. Carve out a niche for yourself and express interest in a particular discipline, one that you will research extensively, form opinions, and present your knowledge and thoughts over the interview.

#4: How Will You Make the Best of This Scholarship

Sponsoring organisations are looking for individuals whose goals and passions align with their vision. Whilst a candidate’s past achievements can give scholarship providers confidence, what they are after is an assurance of the candidate’s future with them. After all, they are investing in a potential employee and would like to assess their potential returns.

Share your long-term goals and how the scholarship is your short-term goal to achieve your ambitions in the long run. Talk with conviction about your final goal, substantiating by mentioning pursuits you have undertaken around that subject of passion, such as courses, internships, reading materials, etc. Give specific examples of how you will put into practice the ideals of the scholarship during school years and beyond.

#Rule 5: What Are Your Thoughts Around _________

Expect questions asking for your opinions around certain topics. Take this opportunity to show proof of your thought-leadership potential. If you do not have an answer for a question, admit it and do not try to bluff your way through; it will probably be obvious. Even if you disagree with something, do not be afraid to say it, but keep your responses positive and constructive.

For example, the Public Service Commission (PSC) will ask their scholarship candidates questions about recent news or policies to find out how well-read they are and if they put deliberate thoughts into what they learn and can form independent opinions. PSC is not expecting to hear a complete agreement to all their policies. The intention is to assess the candidate’s thought process, vision, and values.

ScholarshipGuide Scholarship Interview: The Rule of Six Student Questions

#Rule 6: Do You Have Questions for Us

Besides asking questions to show that you are engaged and interested, this is your chance to evaluate the sponsoring organisation and have all your doubts clarified. Especially if you are vying for a bonded scholarship, you need to know what you are getting yourself into for the long term. Plus, by asking questions, you create a level-playing field for yourself and the interviewer, and naturally, this will help boost your confidence.

Be curious about the organisation’s roadmap and the general direction in which the sector is heading—to help you decide if you want to be part of those plans. Find out what expectations the provider has for its scholars. If you know that the interviewer is a former scholar, you can make the questions more personable by asking for advice, such as: “Is there something you wish you knew when you were in my shoes?” or “What are some challenges that graduates face when looking to enter this field?”

Should you ask about your chances of receiving the scholarship? Why not, if that helps you sleep better at night? Though you may not get a straightforward answer, it is a good gauge of where you may stand in the competition.

Finally, what is left is to thank the panel, sending a “Thank you” email the next day, and following up on the award status after a few weeks, whenever appropriate.

ScholarshipGuide Scholarship Interview: The Rule of Six Road to Success

Think Forward. Look Forward.

Before we conclude these six rules to help prepare you for a successful scholarship interview, our best tip for you is to stay forward-looking and forward-thinking—throughout the interview and after.

At the interview, do not dwell on your past achievements that the panel already knows. Scholarship providers are aware that they are not going to see immediate results. So, focus on demonstrating your commitment to the organisation’s goals, telling them why you are a well-worth investment, depicting your potential contribution.

After the interview, when all is said and done, there is no looking back. Keep your eyes on the road ahead. If you secure a second interview, you can do this all over, and you will be even more prepared. If it does not work out this time, learn from the experience, and make future opportunities happen.

We wish you the best of luck!