To start off, if you have been called for an interview after having applied for an external scholarship, congratulations!
Now the question is, how do you prepare for that interview? Firstly, it’s important to understand that different scholarship organisations seek different characteristics in their scholars, so there is no one size fits all advice on how to ace that interview. However, from experience in being interviewed by multiple kinds organisations, here are a few tips to share for this nerve-wrecking experience.
Review the Scholarship
There is usually a length of time between the application deadline and the day of the interview. Therefore, it is important to revisit the scholarship program’s website to remind yourself about what the scholarship is about, especially because nowadays most scholarship programs have vibrant social media pages where they share content on the current scholars, which can give you great insight as to what an ideal scholar looks like. This in itself can help you prepare for the interview.
Review Your Own Application
It is very important to save a copy of your own application so that you can review it closer to the interview date. Many scholarship application platforms allow you to download your application before you submit it. If they do not enable you to download it, others allow you to revisit the application portal to view your application. In cases where both are not options, be sure to save your application work as an MS Word document so that you have it in your own files.
Reviewing your own application will help you remember everything that you have written, especially things that you might need to expand on during an interview. Most questions in the application have a word limit and that comprises your ability to tell your story. However, in an interview, you have to the chance to elaborate on it and drive home the key points about yourself that you want the interview panel to remember.
With regard to the points you will expand on, you must be aware of the scholarship’s objectives. If it is purely a merit-based scholarship, they will be very interested in knowing how you are the ideal academic scholar. This means that your points must bring examples of your academic achievements. If the scholarship is focused on community service, that means you must think of the relevant points that exemplify your involvement in community service, and so forth.
While thinking of examples, you should be able to qualify and quantify your stance. For example, if asked, “what impact have you had on your community to date?”, and your response is “During after hours I taught English to my fellow colleagues…”, be sure to add numbers to qualify your impact. Mentioning something like “ the previous Form V class obtained a 10% pass rate in the subject while my class obtained a 40% pass rate”, gives evidence of your work and legitimatises your effort and impact.
Seek Advice from past Recipients of the Scholarship
Past recipients of the scholarship can advice you on what to expect from the interview panel, and how to have an overall successful interview. They can also share common mistakes that were made by those who weren’t successful, helping you understand how you can avoid them.
Review your own Application as a Scholar
Having done steps 1-3, this time around you need to remember that an interview is to convince the panel why you are the BEST person to receive the scholarship. Be sure to take into consideration how a panelist will view your application and approach the interview.
This helps in understanding where you will want to focus expanding your points and where you might want to
-Make sure you have all the necessary documents in cases when you beed to bring any supporting material before the panel
-Arrive at the interview venue at least 15-30 minutes before your interview time
-Have a few questions ready that you would like to ask the panel at the end of your interview
– Relax, you’ll be fine
Wishing you the best of luck s you appear before various panels!
Sephutile SIhle Mhlongo
The Knowledge Institute
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