Being asked to participate in a scholarship interview is outstanding news. Typically, it means your child is a finalist for a substantial award from a prestigious organization, which is certainly worth celebrating. But the idea of facing scholarship interview questions can be very anxiety-inducing for your student, especially when there is a lot of money on the line.
While each set of scholarship interview questions will be different, reflecting the priorities of the organization providing the funds, certain topics are actually quite common.
By preparing responses to these questions in advance, your child has a better chance of impressing the interviewer and ultimately winning the scholarship (which is really what it’s all about).
To help your student interview for a college funding with confidence, here are some common scholarship interview questions with tips on how to answer them.
Here are a few more articles to make sure your child is submitting their most competitive scholarship application possible:
- How to Get the Best Scholarship Letter of Recommendation
- How to Win Scholarships with the Right Scholarship Essay Format
Frequently Asked Scholarship Interview Questions
1. Tell Us About Yourself
While this is really more of a prompt than a question, it is an incredibly important moment in the interview process.
Typically, the scholarship committee uses this as an icebreaker, giving your student a chance to describe themselves and set themselves apart from other candidates.
While this isn’t one of the scholarship interview questions with an inherent right or wrong answer, that doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t prepare their response. Generally, the best approach is to go over key points in their resume or transcripts that speak directly to what the scholarship is all about.
For example, if the award is limited to students pursuing degrees in the sciences, then your child should discuss their background in the subject and why they are enthusiastic about the field. But, they shouldn’t stop there. Ideally, your student needs to include details about how their interest in the subject led them to do something unique, like how an interest in chemistry led them to explore molecular gastronomy and create an Instagram feed devoted to the topic.
This approach provides the committee with important information in a standout way while staying largely dedicated to the topics that would interest them most.
2. Can You Provide an Example of a Time You Overcame Adversity?
Committees ask scholarship interview questions like this to assess how your child handles challenges. They want to know that your student has persevered during a difficult time, and the response doesn’t necessarily need to relate to their studies.
One thing your child should avoid is using their grades as an example, except under extenuating circumstances. Saying that they raised a “C” to an “A” isn’t necessarily very impactful, and is actually a common experience without a particularly dramatic catalyst, like a severe long-term injury or illness that kept them out of the classroom.
Instead, your student should answer scholarship interview questions like this one with an example of a time when they were in an incredibly uncomfortable situation.
Confronting a bully or battling against discrimination could be powerful instances of overcoming adversity, as well as sudden financial or family changes that resulted in true hardship.
Almost anything is more interesting than discussing grades without some serious context, so have your child dig deep and think of a more intriguing example for these sorts of scholarship interview questions.
3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
No, this or similar scholarship interview questions aren’t asking your child to predict the future. Instead, it’s the committee’s way of determining if your student has a plan or is just going with the flow in life.
Typically, creating an answer involves your child considering where they want to be or what they want to have achieved in that time. For example, your student may have the goal of getting a Bachelor’s degree and then finding a particular kind of job or finishing their four-year degree and pursuing one at the graduate level.
Whatever their plan, your student needs to take the committee on a journey with their response. Instead of simply saying, “I expect to have my degree and get a job in this field,” your child should include some of the details.
Do they plan on finding an internship to gain experience while in school? Are they joining a club that will give them valuable skills?
Scholarship interview questions, such as this one, require a thorough response that touches on each step between point A and point B, so adding details is the key to a well-crafted answer.
In The Scholarship System course, we always stress the importance of showing students are a good ‘investment’ and that they will make the most of the money for college. This question is a great opportunity to show that.
4. How Do You Plan on Spending the Money?
If you were about to give someone a large sum of cash, wouldn’t you want to know how it would be spent?
Scholarship committees want to hear an answer from your child that is more in-depth than “for college,” so they’ll need to prepare a bit more to answer this question.
Typically, the best way to go about building a great answer to spending-related scholarship interview questions is to start with a solid budget.
All your student needs to do is outline their college expenses categorically, letting the scholarship committee know (approximately) how much of the award is going to tuition, room and board, books and supplies, etc. They can also discuss other sources of funding, such as job-related income or their search for additional scholarships, so the committee can see that your child has a full grasp of the financial implications of obtaining their degree.
5. Why Do You Deserve This Award?
This question feels like a doozy, especially if your child doesn’t have a penchant for talking themselves up. But, this is one of those scholarship interview questions that seems almost always to come up. And that means a strong response is in order.
First, your child should steer clear of bragging about their GPA or school-related extracurricular activities. Most of the final candidates will be similarly qualified, so this isn’t an ideal way to stand out from the crowd.
Additionally, financial hardship shouldn’t enter the equation. If your child says that they can’t attend their target school without the award, it may cause the scholarship committee to question their financial readiness in general or wonder if your student isn’t open to alternatives beyond their dream school.
Instead, your child should first acknowledge that there are likely many worthy candidates in the running, and quickly follow that up with reminders about their work ethic, willingness to meet challenges head-on, and any past accomplishments that could be indicators of their potential for future success.
The key here is to reaffirm the details that are most likely to set your child apart from the other candidates, helping them make a strong impression and, again, showing their “investment” will pay off!
A Final Tip: Leaving a Scholarship Interview
After answering all of the scholarship interview questions, your child needs to end the meeting on a positive note. The best approach is to shake the hands of every person on the interview panel, make eye contact, and use their name when telling them it was a pleasure to have met them and thanking them for their time and consideration.
Your student can let the committee know that they would be happy to answer any follow-up scholarship interview questions, should they arise, and that they look forward to hearing from them.
If your child wants to go the extra mile, upon returning home, they can craft a handwritten thank you note addressed to the committee, thanking them once again for their time and consideration. It’s a small gesture, but it can go a long way. If they are afraid they will forget, they could even write it before leaving and give the card to the assistant or someone trustworthy who will get it to the committee as they walk out the door.
Scholarship interviews are growing in popularity, among other new changes when it comes to applying for scholarships. Looking for some tips to help your student get ready? Check out this article: Scholarship Interview Tips and How to Best Prepare for One
If you and your child would like to learn more about applying for scholarships using our 6-step method that has helped other families secure nearly $1million so far, sign up for our free college scholarship webinar today! It’s a great way to learn about the process and see how scholarships can help your student graduate from college debt free!