What Questions to Expect During a Scholarship Interview

How to Prepare to Wow a Panel of Judges and Experts

Scholarships aren’t always a simple, straightforward application. Often, once the questions are answered and the essays are written, another step follows: the interview. If a scholarship application wows readers during the first round, the applicant may be asked to answer a few questions in a formal interview with the contest’s judges.

Interviews are nerve-wracking, particularly when facing uncertainty while prepping. What questions will the interviewers ask? Will they throw in an oddball question or two, ones that have nothing to do with skill, school, or extracurricular activities? What, exactly, do the judges want to hear? Before beginning to stress over the interview process, read on to discover what will happen — and what can lead to success.

Be Prepared to Chat About Yourself 

It’s perhaps the number one question asked during job interviews, college admission interviews, and yes, even scholarship interviews: the all-too-familiar “Tell me about yourself.” Chances are, your panel of interviewers will default to this popular question when your scholarship questioning begins. In fact, Unigo suggests it as the number one question students should prepare to answer. It allows you, the student, to launch into detailed information about your background, experiences, and interests. When asked this question, share information that cannot be learned on your scholarship application itself. Unigo suggests focusing on distinguishing facts, such as a love of drawing your own animations, or your interest in the breeding habits of the nudibranch (or, more commonly, sea slugs).

Questions about your activities, interests, and educational resume may have already been covered by the actual scholarship application itself. Don’t worry about repeating responses; instead, aim to deepen the interviewers’ understanding of what, exactly, your accomplishments and activities entail. As Granted4U suggests, these interviews are an opportunity to shine in new ways, including the arena of leadership. Rather than offering a list of clubs, work experience, and research, show the panel where you went above and beyond. Did you command a team of underclassmen in a months-long research effort? Were you in charge of any particular activities while part of ASB? Perhaps you oversaw groups of children at a summer camp. In whatever ways you can think of, be prepared to offer specific examples of leadership moments to the interviewers.

Have Strong Examples of Adversity in Your Back Pocket

Once you’ve shared some information that sets you apart from your fellow scholarship competitors, anticipate a question or two that focuses the conversation on challenges. It’s fantastic to here about a student’s shining accomplishments and unique interests, but many interviewers also want to understand how each individual handles difficulties. Make sure you have an example of a specific situation to discuss. Did you once struggle to bring an incoherent group together to succeed on a class project? Were you once faced with a struggle at home that affected your entire life? Or did you possibly encounter an instance of discrimination? Any moment that caused you to remain brave and determined will work.

Granted4U also mentions that the question may appear in another form: an interviewer who asks you to share one of your weaknesses. Although slightly different in focus, this question also asks the interviewee to discuss a moment of difficulty — and it’s best answered with a specific anecdote. The website recommends sticking with the truth while sharing your reply with interviewers. Choose something that you genuinely consider a weak point in your personality, and then turn the question around. Share with the panel how, specifically, you work to be aware of that “flawed” characteristic. The goal is to show that, though weaknesses exist in everyone, you don’t allow yours to keep you from achieving amazing accomplishments.

Expect Scholarship-Specific Questions

Finally, one thing is true of every scholarship interview: students must demonstrate a clear understanding of what, exactly, they are hoping to use their scholarship for. No matter what award you’re interviewing for, be prepared to answer interviewers who hope to understand why you have applied, and how you plan to use your potential winnings. After all, a money-giving organization will want to know if their awards are going to those with great ambition, brilliant futures, and intelligence.

Uniquo lists scholarship-specific questions as some of the top-ten questions asked during scholarship interviews. The panel that determines whether or not you ultimately deserve the award wants to be certain that the funds are going to the best candidate. Will the financial help you finish your degree in less time? Do you plan to use the funds for your textbooks for multiple semesters? Share what it is that makes you the best individual for the scholarship, who will put it to use in countless ways.

Helpful Resources

As you prepare to face interviewers and their questions for any scholarships you’ve applied to, make sure to conduct research before entering the interview itself. Bright Sparks offers more details to help students research both their scholarship organizations and what facts to offer during the interview itself.

Additionally, if you’re looking for more scholarships to apply to, try using Scholarships.com to find unusual, less-applied to options to increase your chances of success.

If you want to prepare even more, running through practice interviews and double-checking your chosen outfit, visit GoCollege to discover even more details about what to expect when you’re sitting before the panel.