Congratulations! If you have made it to the interview stage, you are a finalist, entering the last phase of evaluation. The face-to-face interview is an excellent way for the scholarship committee to get to know you and assess your maturity, composure, performance under pressure, etc. Interviews usually last 15-20 minutes and often involve a panel of people.
It is impossible to predict what questions you may be asked in a personal interview but you can prepare yourself by working out answers to some of the more common questions that get asked in interviews. Write down the answers to these questions.
Next, do some research on the organization offering the scholarship that you are interviewing for.
Use this information to develop responses that you may be able to introduce into the discussion. For example, if you are interviewing for a scholarship from an environmental group and you believe that your volunteer work with the Bermuda National Trust was key to your selection as a finalist, use an example from that experience to highlight your strengths or describe lessons you have learned.
You need to make a good impression, so if you need a haircut, get one. Select your interview outfit with care - look smart and professional - it doesn’t have to be the height of fashion. Make sure your clothes are clean and well-pressed and there are no loose buttons or hanging threads. Don’t overload on make-up or jewelry. If you are still in high school, you can wear your school uniform if you want to.
Make sure you know where the interview is taking place and how long it will take to get there. It is really hard to concentrate on the questions you are being asked when your heart is still racing from trying to find somewhere to park in Hamilton. If you do get held up and know you won’t make it in on time, then it is okay to call the scholarship administrator and let them know you will be late and why.
You look great. You arrived in plenty of time. You are under control. It’s impossible to relax under the circumstances, but remember that the people who will be interviewing you believe you are a qualified candidate. They are already interested in you and want to get to know you better. Show that you are genuinely pleased to be given the opportunity for interview and demonstrate your enthusiasm for your educational goals. See the interview as a wonderful experience rather than a trial.
What if, despite your logistical preparations, you are late or arrive with a big stain on your shirt? Well, now you have the opportunity to exhibit grace under pressure and the ability to adapt to circumstance. Acknowledge the problem ("I had a flat tire”); apologise if appropriate ("I’m so sorry to be late”) and then move on. Don’t continue to focus on the initial negative; try to get the process moving forward so you can shine. ("I realize that I’m late but I’m very interested in being interviewed if there’s still time”)
What if you can’t think of a good answer to a question that’s been posed? Or, you can’t even think of a bad answer because your mind has gone blank? Again, grace under pressure is key. Explain that you’re having a mental block on that topic just now and ask if it’s possible to come back to the question a bit later. Or, suggest that it’s a really interesting question that has prompted a lot of different ideas for you and you’d like to take a moment to organize your thoughts.
What if you’ve just heard you’ve been awarded another scholarship right before the interview?You should immediately call the scholarship administrator or go to the interview and tell them right away as they are busy people and will not appreciate taking the time to interview you only to find out at the end that you’ve accepted another scholarship.
There are a lot more possible what-ifs. The key is to remain confident and don’t let a problem shake your faith in yourself. The interviewers recognize the pressure you are under and you are often judged by the style with which you.manage any problems which may arise. Approach the interview with a sense of confidence, some humility and enough good humor to get you past any awkward moments.