The Scholarship Interview

I think interviews are rather artificial settings; they surround a poor candidate and then bombard him/her with questions. Yet one should remember that an interview is not interrogation and the whole point is for the entire thing to become a natural interaction rather than an artificial, forced conversation that tells no truths. This is a rather short piece on the contents of a scholarship interview, not an article that tells you what to wear, how you should shake your hand or smile at your interviewers.

Questions to Ask
Although you usually start out being asked questions, you should be preparing stuff you want to ask the interviewer beforehand so that you are not caught off guard when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for him/her. These questions should be genuine questions so don’t bother to ask if you already know the answer because your face would tell that while you’re listening to the reply.

There’s a couple of areas you might like to ask about; in particular Scholarship selection procedures, life of a scholar, and the work of the scholar in the organization. For selection process you might like to ask “How many rounds of interviews will you be put through?” or whether there is “any other sort of assessments (like test/essay to do)?” Some organizations would have a psychometric tests, others have workshops that are sessions to assess their candidates.

On life of a scholar, ask if there’s any internship or attachment for scholars? And how will they be related to the work scholars eventually do at the organization? Related to that, is the work a scholar is going to do upon graduation; ask “What sort of work do scholars do after graduation in the organization?”, check if there is job rotation, and “How long is each cycle?” as well as “What functions will scholars be exposed to throughout the career/bond period?”

Depending on how you’ve set the tone of the interview, you should preferably be able to ask some casual stuff like how long your interviewers have been with the organization. Ask about their work if you don’t know their positions yet and see how they like the organization or if they face any particular difficulty/challenge in their work in recent times. This would help make the interview a more natural conversation rather than one that is zero-ed in on ‘work’.

Questions they might ask
Now for the more important questions, the ones they will be asking you. There are very general ones like your aspirations, reasons for choice of your course, how they tie up with your interests, how you’re coping in school right now (or how have you coped with school in the past).You should also be expected to share your experiences in school with leadership activities, or team activities.

Some organizations like to pose scenario questions like ‘talk about a time when you had disagreements with a teammate’, ‘tell us a situation where you had to overcome a huge challenge’, ‘tell us your most difficult time in life so far’. Otherwise, the open-ended tough questions like “What have you done in life so far that tells you that you’ll be suitable for our organization?”, “Can you tell us why you deserve this scholarship?”

Prepare to explain your present commitments as well: “What are you doing now?”, “How do you spend your vacations?”, “What interest do you have besides your studies (and work)?” Knowing some current affairs would help especially when they are related to the organization that is offering the scholarship: “What do you think is a challenge facing our industry/organization?” “Do you think there’s anything about our organization that we should change or need to change?”, “What potential markets have we overlooked in the course of our expansion?”

Other Tips & Advice
Try to remember your responses to their questions and also their answers to your questions because it’ll serve you well to remain consistent throughout your rounds of interviews; you’ll realise that some questions comes to you over and over again posed by different interviewers because they never heard your reply to these questions, so it’s also important to maintain that consistency.

Remembering their responses to your questions shows that you’re paying attention and not contemplating what to ask next or how to respond while they are answering your question or explaining stuff to you. If possible, jot down their responses to your question somewhere right after your interview (perhaps type a note in your handphone or something)

Remember there is no right or wrong answers in an interview so never look as if you regretted something you just mentioned (if you really do, please correct yourself immediately on the spot) and in many sense, as long as you are sure what you’re saying, you’re giving the right answer.

Don’t appear self-important but show the interviewers what you are willing to do to serve them and what you’re not willing. When you’re given the tough questions, ask for time to think about it. You could say, “Wow, that’s a big question, give me a moment to organize my answer” or something like that. Try to think about the tough ones beforehand so that you’re more prepared to handle them. Don’t bet on them not coming out.

Don’t hesitate to clarify their questions; if you don’t know what they’re asking, ask them questions to clarify; sometimes the question they’re trying to pose is more close-ended than it seems.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s