There's no way around the unfortunate truth: getting an education costs a lot of money. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities to which you can apply for help with your tuition, room and board, book purchases, and other college expenses.
In the vast majority of cases, you'll need to provide an essay, submit credentials, and/or answer scholarship interview questions. We've compiled a helpful list of common scholarship interview questions so that you can be prepared when applying for assistance with your tuition. But first, let's discuss how to properly prepare for scholarship interviews.
If you have a scholarship interview coming up, be sure to perform due diligence beforehand. You don't want to go into the interview unprepared, without thinking about the topic at hand and without presenting a professional face. Many of the career advancement tips we've written about can also serve as scholarship interview tips, but here are some of the best ways to prepare specifically for your scholarship interview.
1 - Do Proper Research
Know what you're talking about. If the scholarship is about finances, your personal experiences, or some controversial topic currently gripping the nation, make sure you take time before your interview to go over the details. You want to impress the scholarship committee with your knowledge and your persuasiveness, but you can't do that if you're flying by the seat of your pants.
Also, do some research on the company or organization that is offering the scholarship. Learn what they do and relate that to the scholarship topic. How might the organization view your scholarship topic? Try to incorporate that into your knowledge base to prepare for the interview.
2 - Stay Relaxed
Before your interview, do what you can to relax your nerves. You want to appear as stress-free as possible. For some, meditation or breathing exercises might be the key. Others may need to give themselves a day or two away from scholarship preparation to clear their mind. Whichever method you use to manage anxiety, engage in those same relaxation techniques to present your best self.
3 - Speak Clearly
Public speaking is an art form and a skill. The best speakers enunciate, speak loudly enough for all to hear, and keep their speeches succinct. Even if you aren't typically the best speaker in a public setting, your goal should be to exude confidence. Confident speakers tend to captivate their audiences and appear more knowledgeable than others. Try to remove “uh's” and “um's” from your speaking habits as much as possible.
This is a difficult task, so don't feel discouraged. Practice is the only way to get better. Try answering some of the questions on this page to yourself, in the mirror, acting as if you are the interviewer.
Without further ado, here are some of the top scholarship interview questions you should be ready for.
1 - What is your greatest strength/weakness?
When you're applying for a scholarship, there's no room for being coy or humble. The interviewer wants to know why they should give the money to you rather than the last person they interviewed. Talk yourself up! When possible, explain how your strengths play into the scholarship topic. For example, let's say that you're applying for a volunteer-based scholarship. You might claim that your strength is your work experience, which helps you perform a variety of tasks when volunteering.
On the flip side, give an honest, reflective answer when asked about your weaknesses. However, always spin it in a positive light. When interviews ask this and other scholarship questions, they want to see how you respond just as much as they want to know the answer. Tell them a weakness you have, but present steps you're taking to address this issue. That lets them know that you are reflective, are always looking for ways to improve, and are proactive.
2 - Where do you see yourself in X years?
None of us knows the future, and you might not even have a solid five-year plan in place. Regardless, a concrete answer is always better than a simple “I don't know.” The interviewer wants to learn more about you as a person and a potential recipient of their scholarship, and those kinds of non-answers don't give enough information.
Even if you don't have a definite goal for the next few years, give the interviewer some options. Tell them about a couple of different avenues you've thought about taking, how your current education and work experience relates, and how the topic of the scholarship applies to those possible goals. For example, if it's a community service scholarship, your plan of working for a non-profit in the future might relate to the scholarship.
3 - Why should you get this scholarship?
There's no room for modesty when answering questions asked in a scholarship interview — however, you should never put other candidates down. Simply acknowledge that there are plenty of other students who have applied for the scholarship and that their work is surely admirable. Then, go over your unique traits, skills, experience, and knowledge that make you right for the scholarship in question.
4 - Is there anything you'd like to ask me/us?
In some situations, the interviewer might ask you to present your own questions. This is usually a way for them to gauge your interest in the scholarship and to see your general know-how. Asking intelligent questions is very important. Even if they do not outright ask you, you should take a second to ask at least two or three questions. This helps to show that you truly desire the scholarship.
Some common questions to ask include your likelihood of receiving the scholarship, how the organization goes about notifying scholarship winners, and the next steps in the process. Again, all of these questions let the interviewer know you're serious about the scholarship.
5 - Why did you apply?
Everyone knows that the primary reason to apply for a scholarship is simply because school is expensive. That's admirable — you're seeking financial assistance to prepare for your future and receive a high-quality education. But that shouldn't be the only reason. After all, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities out there.
When asked why you applied to the particular scholarship, be specific. Relate your prior experiences, personality, skill set, or philosophy to the scholarship and/or organization. For example, you might have served as a community volunteer for years before applying to a volunteer scholarship with a non-profit. Tell the interviewer what attracted you to the scholarship and their organization. Flatter them!
You're in luck! Exam Edge has its own scholarship available. The Exam Edge Certification Scholarship supports professional development by granting scholarships for expenses related to passing certification exams. Head on over to our scholarship page to get the full details. And remember, when you're trying to decide how to prepare for a scholarship interview, turn to Exam Edge for all the best tips and info.