Dear Career Doctor:
In 2 weeks I will have an interview to get a scholarship. Could you give me some tips on how to face this interview?
A scholarship interview is very similar to a job interview: it’s your responsibility to show the interviewer why they should give it to you. AND you have to do this in a pleasant, conversational manner that does not seem pushy or demanding. Here are the tips you asked for:
1. Think of 5 ways you hope to make a contribution to the school. Your interviewer may ask directly how your presence will benefit the school. If not, try to subtly work your five points into the interview.
2. Write the 5 points down on an index card and keep it in your pocket. When sitting, waiting to be called into the interview, you will undoubtedly be nervous, worrying about how you will do. Instead of worrying, pull out your card and go over your 5 items, gaining confidence that you will be an asset to the school.
Unlike a job interview, where you usually do not want to seem like you NEED the job, if this is a need-based scholarship, be prepared to discuss why the family finances require assistance. You may be asked about whether you would be willing to work at the college for some of the money, and the answer should be “yes,” unless there is a very good reason why you can’t do so.
If you must participate in a group interview, where the college appears to be making several people compete with you for the scholarship money, try to be cooperative and pleasant to the other people instead of aggressively competitive. Make sure you mention your good points without putting the other people down.