Having prepared well for the scholarship interview, your selection is more likely to be based on merit and not on your ability to dress well or deliver a catchy one-liner.
This guide has been written to help you prepare for your scholarship application and scholarship interview in a way that will maximize your chances of being shortlisted for a scholarship, as it is based on the five things the selection committee members will be looking for in an interview.
But before that…
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Why do Colleges Give Interviews?
Just like job interviews, college interviews are essential parts of scholarship programs. The reason colleges give interviews is to make an informed decision about whom the school should accept. Ultimately, the interview’s fundamental purpose is to provide a decision-maker with information that cannot be obtained through other means.
The scholarship committee’s goal is to sort through a large pool of applicants to select those who are most likely to succeed in their program and make a positive contribution to the school community. Scholarship interviews will be looking for five things:
1. The ability to answer questions clearly and concisely without being long-winded, particularly if time is limited
People often have strong ideas but can’t express them quickly and easily, which can cause them problems when applying for school scholarship programs because their verbal communication skills may be poor.
When preparing for the interview, work on your verbal communication skills and try to make sure that you don’t ramble on too much when answering questions. Avoid repeating yourself unnecessarily; this can be off-putting for the selection committee.
2. The ability to present yourself well
This means you should dress appropriately for the interview and make sure that you are clean and tidy. Your appearance will make a big impact on the selection committee members; they will form an opinion of you within a few seconds of meeting you.
It would help if you also spoke correctly and professionally. If you have a regional accent, try not to use slang or colloquialisms – this may make it difficult for the selection committee to understand what you are saying. It may even give the impression that you aren’t brilliant!
3. The ability to demonstrate your academic ability, i.e., that your academic record is indicative of your aptitude, motivation and ability to perform well at the college level (if applicable)
Remember: if you have excellent marks, then it’s easier to obtain scholarship programs than if you have poor marks (i.e., those which are indicative of your inability to perform at the college level).
Your results will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and it may help if you can demonstrate that you have performed well in subjects relevant to the course for which you are applying. It will also help if you can show that your performance has improved over time.
4. The ability to show that you have practical skills
This means showing that you can do something with your hands or show that you have experience working with groups of people or animals (if applicable). It’s important to know that the selection committee is looking for people who ‘do things’ (i.e., they’re not just interested in bookworms).
For example, if you want to study science, then it may help if you can give examples of projects or experiments which demonstrate your practical ability. If you want to study agricultural science, then it may help if you can give examples of skills or knowledge from working on a farm.
5. The ability to demonstrate that you are committed to a career in the field for which you are applying (if applicable)
You can do this by showing that you have relevant skills and knowledge or give examples of relevant work experience. The scholarship selection committee is looking for people who are ‘good’ in themselves.
They’re looking for people who will be good for the course they’re offering – and this means they’re looking for people who know their subject, who can communicate well and who are hard workers. It doesn’t matter what your background is; as long as you can succeed at the university level, they will want to give you scholarship programs.
How to Answer the Most Common Scholarship Interview Questions
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The following questions will be asked of you during the interview:
1. Why do you want to study at this university?
This is a good question to start with because it makes the selection committee members feel like they’re talking to someone interested in their field of study. It also allows you to show that you have done your research about the college, which they will appreciate.
If you can mention particular things that appeal to you, such as ‘the state-of-the-art facilities’ or ‘the strong academic reputation’, do so, but don’t try to flatter them unnecessarily; this is a common mistake that many applicants make!
Just be honest and say what it is that appeals to you about the college. You should never say anything negative about a college unless it has something seriously wrong with it – e.g., if it doesn’t have any internet access!
2. Why do you want to study this subject?
It’s important to show that you have a genuine interest in the subject, but it’s also important to show that you’re not just going for any old course. You should explain why you are interested in the subject; for example, ‘I am interested in studying agriculture because I have been working on my family farm since I was fifteen and love working with animals and plants.
I want to work in agriculture when I leave university, so this course is relevant for the career I am interested in pursuing.’ You should also show that you have taken time to investigate your career options before committing yourself to a particular course – if you don’t do this, it will be difficult for them to believe that you really are interested in their field of study!
It should also help demonstrate that you have a basic understanding of what the degree course involves; for example, ‘I have read that the degree in agricultural science involves a lot of practical work – which is what I want.’
3. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
This is another good question to start with because it gives the selection committee members the chance to see if they have any plans for your future.
Please don’t be vague about your plans; tell them exactly what it is that you want to do in the future. If you don’t know yet, then say so: ‘I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do, but I would like to work in agriculture and/or teach when I leave university.’ It will also help if you can indicate what kind of person you are by teaching something like, ‘I am efficient, and I like working with my hands, so I would probably like a job to use this efficient farming or teaching.’
4. What do you think are the most important things that a college education can give students?
This question is relatively easy to answer because it gives you the chance to express your views on what a college education can offer.
You should explain in your answers that you believe a degree from this particular college will provide you with opportunities in life, e.g., ‘I want to study at this college because I believe it will give me the skills and knowledge which will help me to make my way in the world of work.’
It is important to remember that interviews in college scholarship programs can be a very stressful experience in your life; however, it is well within your control to ensure that you do well in the interview. The key elements of success in answering scholarship interview questions are preparation and communication skills.
Reaching your goals and studying in your dream schools need a lot of effort. Preparation involves making sure that you know what you’re going to say before you say it. Communication skills mean making sure that the selection committee can understand what you are saying!
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