Interviewing for scholarships
Recommended for interviews
Jane Curlin, Udall Foundation
- Engage confidently in the exchange of ideas; respectful differences of opinion are expected and even welcomed.
- Know the difference between a debate and an argument, and avoid engaging in the latter.
- Take a moment to think before you answer. Ask for clarification if you need to.
- Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know; do be afraid to fake it.
- Know when to stop. If you feel that you could talk forever on a particular topic, ask the committee if they would like you to go into more detail.
- No matter how well you prepare, you will be asked questions you can’t anticipate. Expect the unexpected.
- No matter if you feel like you’ve just made a fool of yourself, move on. You will handle other questions well.
- Be honest; be confident; be yourself.
Common interview mistakes
- Failing to answer the question that was asked
- Not being succinct in the responses and taking too long to answer the question.
- Trying to guess what the panel wants to hear rather than providing an honest answer.
- Being either too staid or too nervous and not permitting the panel to see the personality behind the accomplishments.
National Selectors Top 5, reported by Reed College
- Taking the interview as an exercise in defense rather than discussion.
- Using the words “never” and “always.” That simply opens you up to a forced withdrawal.
- Being falsely confident. It is fine to be phased; it is acceptable to be a bit embarrassed.
- Refusing to say “I don’t know.”
- Attributing everything you know on a given subject to a particular book read in a particular course. In such cases, “you” disappear, and the book takes your place.
Interview tips and sample questions from great sources!
Phone and Skype interviews
Suggestions and Strategies
- If you are asked to interview, the interviewers want to talk to you, think you are special, and want you to do well.
- Prepare to the best of your ability in advance, but when you walk through the door, stop mentally rehearsing, listen well, and go with the flow! Enjoy the conversation.
- Remain true to your ideals without being dogmatic; acknowledge the merit in other points of view.
- Prepare a few graceful escapes for “oops moments” and firmly mark the end of your answers with a strong falling tone of voice, signaling that you’ve finished speaking and are ready to move on to the next question.
- Think out loud. Work out what you think as you go along if you need to. Don’t hesitate to let them see your train of thought, warts and all.
- Don’t search for the “right answer”: sometimes there isn’t one. Give them your answer and why you think so.
- If you don’t have an answer, you could say “x” could be part of the answer…one strategy might be… one early step might be…here’s how I would go about finding a good solution, etc.
- You can often buy some time to formulate an answer by rephrasing the question, or asking for clarification.
- When unsure, or when there is no definitive or good answer, you could present one side, present the other side, then close with your opinion or compromise or recommended first step(s) and why this is a reasonable choice.