How to prepare for a Scholarship Interview

If you get called for a scholarship interview, then your application made an impression. You’re now one step closer to winning. Jump up and down, pat yourself on the back, shake the nerves out, do what you gotta do and then let’s get back to work. You got some interview prep to do!

---get yourself prepared for the interview to express yourself face to face and in front of the interview panel.

This will be your biggest chance to get the image you want to portray across the table and maximize your chances to land that scholarship!

Scholarship Interview Preparation

Do your research

You should always research the sponsors and the organization that is funding and hosting the scholarship. It will give you insight about what they are expecting of their ideal candidate. It also is helpful to do some further digging and see who their previous scholarship winners were. What kind of talents did they have? Do the scholarship winners from the last couple of years have anything in common?

Prepare for the questions

While it’s great to do some research, it’s also equally important to practice to prepare yourself for the interview. This will help with answering the scholarship sponsors questions and also give you more confidence that you will ace the interview!

We recommend to let someone interview you and ask questions that might be asked by the interviewers. Before you have someone pretend interview you for the scholarship, make sure you can answer the following questions by yourself. Once you can, have someone ask you them in a mock scholarship interview setting:

  • Tell us about yourself. (Hint: Relate this to how what you have done correlates to the scholarships mission)

  • What is your biggest weakness? (Hint: Be honest. Everyone has weaknesses. It’s a good quality to be self aware and even better to know how to work on and fix a weakness.)

  • Give an example of a time you overcame adversity.

  • Why are you passionate about _________ (Hint: Try using something here related to the scholarship topic)

  • What would you use to describe yourself? (Hint: What are some positive words that your parents or friends would use to describe you?)

  • Why do you think you deserve this scholarship? (Hint: Why did you apply? This is the time to think positively about yourself and refer back to all your points you listed in your scholarship essay, and maybe a few things from your resume)

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? (Hint: This is a chance to tlet the scholarship committee see a bit more about you. While it’s great to talk professionally, it’s good to also let the scholarship committee get to know some of your personal goals. People like to relate to other and want to know your human also.)

Be Punctual

Being punctual to a scholarship interview symbolizes that you care about both winning the scholarship and about the interviewers time. That’s important.

To clarify, punctual means arriving on time, but also not too early.


To be punctual to your interview, navigate an online map and check the time required to reach the venue a day before the interview at the exact same time you would leave for it. Doing this will allow you to see the traffic pattern at the time and plan appropriately.

When to Leave

Try to arrive 15 minutes prior to the designated time to calm your nerves and for pre-interview preparation time. Sometimes traffic and public transportation can be unpredictable, so make sure to leave far before the time that the online map says you should. It’s always better to be early than late.

While being early is important, it’s also important not to be too early. I know, we are being picky here. Depending on where the interview is being conducted, it might put the interviewer(s) in an uncomfortable situation if you are too early. They could still be interviewing the person before you or need time review your application again prior to interviewing you. Our recommendation is to arrive no more than 10-15 minutes early.

Still running late?

If after all of this, you are going to be late for some crazy reason, inform the office so they can reschedule or postpone the interview. Communication in these situations are always important.

Dress Properly

Always dress appropriately for the scholarship interview but try not to be too formal or casual. Remember your attire gives off the first impression, and whether we like it or not, first impressions do mean a lot.

As College Counselors, we’ve had scholarship sponsors tell us that they decided not to award a student because of the inappropriate outfit.

A tip from the experienced: Older generations usually prefer more conservative outfits. If the interview is during school hours, it’s okay to bring an extra pair of clothes to change into for the interview.

Bad Outfit < > Good Outfit

Scholarship Day of Checklist

Switch off or put your phone on do not disturb for the interview. If your phone is ringing during the interview, it gives off a bad impression. Don’t be that person.

Prepare Questions to Ask in the Interview

Make a short list of questions to ask the interviewer. For example:

  • How did they get involved in the organization or scholarship committee?

  • What are the top qualities you look for in someone you award this scholarship to?

  • If I was chosen, what things could I do to help your organization?

While you don’t have to ask these questions specifically, having at least one question prepared shows your preparation and also that you care and are interested in them and the mission of the scholarship.

Bring Important Documents with You

Make sure that you have brought all the relevant documents. It’s always helpful and it makes you look ultra prepared in the best way possible if you come with an extra copy of the following things (if applicable):

  • Copy of your submitted application

  • Transcript and GPA

  • Test scores - ACT or SAT if applicable

  • Student Resume

  • List of extracurricular activities

  • Work experience

  • Awards and certificates

  • Community service documentation

Be Confident & Passionate

If you have to, power position before your interview. Do what you have to do to clear your nerves and remind myself that ‘I’m amazing, I got this!’.

When you go inside the interview room be confident and shake hands firmly with all the interviewers. Know yourself and be conscious of your behavior and how you are portraying yourself. Pay attention and listen to what the interviewer is saying. Be passionate about what you are saying and sharing and be yourself. Don’t try to brag or lie to make an impression; it will end in a disaster. Plus take a moment to answer the questions and don’t rush. Stay calm and collected. Remember, you got this far, you prepared, there’s no reason why you can’t win the scholarship.

Online and Phone Scholarship Interviews

As technology is advancing, and you are applying for larger scholarships, the scholarship committee might choose to do an online interview. This could take place over Skype, Zoom, Facetime or another way of video conferencing.

The good news is that all of the above tips are still relevant to prepare you for your online scholarship interview. Still come prepared, do a practice interview before with someone in another room, and make sure you can login to the video conferencing ahead of time. Not knowing your login and scrambling last minute is a sure way to get stressed out prior to the interview.

Prior to your online scholarship interview, make sure you have a planned space that will be quite where you can be. We do not recommend a coffee shop, they can be unexpectedly loud. We also recommend to go somewhere where there isn’t a chance of running into someone you know. If you decide to have your online interview at home, make sure to tell your parents or roommates so they know to be quite.

Follow up is a Must

Always thank the interviewers at the end of the interview and don’t forget to send a follow up message which will remind the sponsors when they are reviewing notes of all of the scholarship applicants they interviewed.

With all of these tips, you are sure to ace your interview. Now all you have to do is go practice and remember to breathe. Confidence! You got this!

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