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."
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.
Other fellowships run the gamut between these poles: two one-on-one 90 minute sessions for the Hertz; 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.
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).
Interview-heavy fellowships, like the Truman, have challenged many students. Those who have been finalists share a number of qualities:
At the age
of 20, 21, or 22, even the most articulate student may be intimidated by the prospect of appearing before a committee of six to nine senior CEO's and professors. The shyest among the candidates may fear that he or she has n o 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.
Useful places to go include
Career Services[MM1] , which offers workshops on interview preparation, and the Office of Major Scholarship Advising, which runs mock interviews for students chosen to interview for national fellowships.
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.