What to Expect in an Interview With a Scholarship Board

by Soheila Battaglia
Read about the foundation before you interview.

Being recognized by a scholarship board means that you have already caught the eye of donors. This is an honor, but there are still hurdles to cross before you can celebrate. In addition to dressing professionally and speaking thoughtfully, you should be prepared for various types of questions. Common topics in a scholarship interview include personal background, strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Background and Interests

At some point in the interview, the panel will ask about your personality, interests and how you spend your time. They want to know how you became the person you are today. Brigham Young University notes that students may be asked what they do for fun, what characteristics they would like to improve and which projects and accomplishments they are most proud of and why. This is a great place for candidates to show what makes them stand out from the other applicants. You can discuss your culture, hobbies and talents to show how unique and dynamic you are.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The scholarship board wants to see that you are a thoughtful and reflective applicant. They may ask you to name your biggest strength and your biggest weakness. Being able to identify these qualities in yourself shows the panel that you are a critical thinker, you are knowledgeable about yourself, and you know where you need to grow. The University of Washington suggests being prepared to share a distinct experience or story that demonstrates your strengths and weaknesses.

Long-Term Plans

A key part of a scholarship interview is communicating your educational and career goals. You will be expected to show how receiving the scholarship fits into your short-term and long-term objectives. The panel may ask what you envision doing in 10 years, what you have done thus far to realize your goals and what you would do if you didn't receive the scholarship. Familiarize yourself with the resume and application you have submitted so that you can reference past experiences and accomplishments to show how they fit into your long-term aspirations.

Research and Practice

Before going into an interview with a scholarship board, you should research the scholarship for which you are applying. If the organization is named after a real person, read a biography of that person to get a sense of their strengths, hardships and accomplishments. The University of Washington notes that, "scholarship interview committees will ask questions that are tailored to the specific scholarship program you’re applying to, so each interview will be different." Therefore, you should be prepared to convey that you are familiar with the funding organization's mission and guidelines. You can do this by preparing your own questions to ask the scholarship board.

About the Author

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.

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