Office of Major Scholarship Advisement

Interviews permit committee and panel members the chance to meet the applicants, put a face with a name, and challenge them to articulate their objectives "on their feet."

Fulbright Scholarship Interviews

Quite a few highly desirable fellowships require personal interviews. The Fulbright is one of these.  It considers its detailed application a "paper interview" and requires an on-campus interview with a member of the campus Fulbright Committee. At the other extreme lies Coro, a fellowship which invites 30 finalists to a day-long series of interviews with between 60 and 70 judges.

About the Interview

Other fellowships run the gamut between these poles: two one-on-one 90 minute sessions for the Hertz; Charles McIntosh during the Freshman Colloquium Interview and one 15-minute spot with a large committee for the Mitchell, in D.C., no less. The nature or format of the Rhodes and Marshall interviews, perhaps the most daunting of all in the collective university imagination, simply cannot be predicted. They might run 20 minutes or 40.

Candidate Experiences

Candidates have described their experiences variously as "boring," "conversational," "confrontational," "nerve-wracking," and "electric." While such differing reactions may reflect individual candidates' tolerance for intense engagement, the only constant in these interviews is that they in turn reflect the composition of the differing committees who conduct the sessions in states (Rhodes) or regions (Marshall).

 

Truman Scholarship Interviews

Interview-heavy fellowships, like the Truman, have challenged many students. Those who have been finalists share a number of qualities:

  • They are extremely well read in many fields, not only in their area of expertise. Students in computer science may receive questions on film and literature. A major in political science may be asked the meaning of art. An economist may find herself answering questions about biology or math.
  • They are well versed in the broader social and ethical implications of their field of specialty.
  • They understand the ongoing scholarship in their field and have contemplated how their own current research fits into that overall picture.
  • They keep an eye on current affairs, including not only events, but also the implications of international developments for U.S. policy. They listen to NPR faithfully and read The Economist, the New York Times, New Republic, Slate Online, and other important sources of news.
  • They question everything.

At the age of 20, 21, or 22, even the most articulate student may be intimidated by the prospect of Daniel Zilz (left) an Engineering major, during the Freshman Colloquium Interviewappearing before a committee of six to nine senior CEO's and professors. The shyest among the candidates may fear that he or she has no chance.  However, some of the recent winners include: one student who had never been in an interview situation in her life, another who felt self-conscious about appearing in public, and another who vastly preferred small seminars to a large forum such as he faced.

Preparation for Interviews

Useful places to go include Career Services[MM1] , which offers workshops on interview preparation, and the Office of Major Scholarship Advisement, which runs mock interviews for students chosen to interview for national fellowships.

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Our best advice is that you keep your mind on your goal-what the program and fellowships offer you for further study, travel, and reflection.