scholarship interview questions

There’s no better way to go into an interview than prepared.  Here are the 15 most common scholarship interview questions and tips on how to answer them.

Let’s start by saying congratulations.

If you’re looking for information on how to answer the most commonly asked scholarship interview questions. Then that means you’re in contention for winning the award.

It’s unlikely that they are interviewing every applicant, which means that you are on the right track to securing the funding you need to go to the University of your dreams. But, that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Interviews can be stressful, and you need to find a way to both keep your cool and make yourself stand out from the others in the pool of applicants.  If this prospect is nerve-wracking don’t worry, you’re not alone.

One of the best ways to overcome your fears and to put the best version of yourself in front of your interview committee is to prepare.

By knowing the types of questions you may be asked, and practicing your responses to them ahead of time, you’re more likely to keep your cool and showcase your potential.

In this guide, we’ll give you a heads up on the 15 most popular scholarship interview questions and insider tips on how you can draw on your strengths and experiences to provide great, personal answers that will help you stand out.

Scholarship Interview Questions

1. Tell Us About Yourself


Often used as an introductory question to build rapport, this scholarship interview question is one of the more challenging ones to answer.  Although it might be tempting to recite what is on your application or resume, those are details your interviewer already knows about you.  This question is designed to give you an open platform to give your elevator pitch.

That’s your 60-second spiel that highlights your special skills, interests, and how those relate to the scholarship.  Keep it short and sweet.  If they want to know more details or specifics, they’ll ask.

2.  How Will You Use the Scholarship Dollars?


Scholarships can come from a lot of different sources, but one thing they have in common is that they all want to know their money will be used wisely.  Come prepared to answer this question with a breakdown of monthly costs in your portfolio.

You can include columns like tuition, books, living, transportation, and food to show your potential expenses and then allocate the scholarship funds accordingly.  This technique might require a little research, but it will pay big dividends if you show that you have thought through your college funding picture and truly need the scholarship.

3.  Tell Us About Your Greatest Strength?


If you’re sitting in front of an interviewer or committee, the chances are good that they see a lot of strengths in you on paper, so relax if this question comes up.  It might be uncomfortable to feel like you’re bragging about yourself, so it’s a good idea to practice this one ahead of time as it’s nearly guaranteed to come up.

Pick a quality that you feel is your strongest and give specific examples and stories as to why it’s important.  If you’re an excellent writer, talk about a time your writing made an impact.  If you’re a great athlete, tie a specific experience or accomplishment to your strength in athletic performance and why it mattered.

4.  What’s Your Greatest Weakness?


Possibly the only situation more uncomfortable than bragging about yourself is admitting things you’re not so great at.  The key to this question is answering it in such a way that it also paints you in a positive light.  This is a great time to talk about how you overcame your weakness and achieved success, or found a different way to approach a problem that instead played on your strengths.  This is less about the actual vulnerability and more about how you handle it.

5.  Describe Your Biggest Mistake


A variation of the weakness question, this one has been popping up more frequently as it can elicit a powerful response.  Not only might this question make some candidates uncomfortable, but it also forces you to be self-aware of your flaws.

Just like your answer above, choose a specific experience where there is a positive moral to the story.  Talk about the mistake, but spend more time in your response discussing how it helped you to learn, grow, and evolve as a person.

6.  Why Should You be the One to Receive this Scholarship?

Although your high GPA and desperate financial need seem like the right answer to this question, that’s not what your interviewer is looking for when they ask it.

All students have a need, but what they want to know is why you are worth investing in.  Your answer should include information about what makes you unique, and how your past successes will feed into your future success.  Tell them why you are a good investment, and give them a narrative to back up your claims.

7.  Where Do You See Yourself in Five/Ten/Twenty Years?


They know you don’t have a crystal ball, but the scholarship committee is still looking for reassurance that you have a game plan.

If you’re applying for a scholarship to fund your four-year degree, they want to make sure that five years from now you don’t still see yourself as an undergraduate.  It’s okay to dream big with your answer, but it’s also important to incorporate how the scholarship will facilitate your success in achieving that picture into your reply.  Tell them why their money matters.

8.  Who Do You Look Up to/Who is Your Role Model?


This is a common question for an interviewer to ask when they are trying to understand your deeper motivations better.  Choose someone who inspires you, and talks about how their life, actions, or accomplishments have driven you to succeed.  What have you learned from them, and why is that important?

9.  Tell Me About Your Leadership Experience

Remember, they have your application and are well aware of any leadership positions or titles you’ve held.  The interviewer isn’t looking for a list when they ask this question.  Instead, they want to see your passion and commitment in your answer.  Choose a role that you enjoyed and talk about concrete, measurable accomplishments you achieved.

Keep in mind, even if you never held a formal leadership title or function, you may still have an example where you lead a group or team to success.  If you truly don’t have a good example, say so and then talk about the qualities that you have that you feel will make you a dynamic and efficient leader when the time comes.

10.  What’s Your Favorite Book/Movie/Song?


Most commonly interview committees will ask about books as what you read reflects both your interests and intelligence level, but recently movies, television shows, or songs have also been topics they are curious about.

What they are looking to do is better understand your interests, and where you get meaning and inspiration in your life.

Pick ones that are meaningful to you for specific reasons, and discuss why.  Was a certain character relatable or motivational?  Does a particular lyric make you want to conquer the world?  For most interviews, the specifics of what you choose isn’t important, but drawing the connection to why it matters to you, is.

11.  Why Did You Choose this University or College?


Not to be repetitive, but yet again this is a question that is designed to learn about you and not the institution you’ve selected.  You don’t need to be a university tour guide and tout the amazing football program or the excellent education you plan to receive.

Instead, focus on the things that are most important to you and why.  If your school is well-known for their linguistics program or research facilities, talk about why that appeals to you and how you hope to utilize them during your education.

If it’s applicable, you can walk the committee through the process you went through determining which institution was the best fit for you.  They want to know why you think you will be successful and make a difference there, so tell them.

12.  What Subject is Your Favorite in School?


Another way that interviewers will try to get you to reveal parts of your personality is to ask about your passions and things you like to study.  Choose a subject that you love, and tell them why it’s your favorite.  Avoid saying things like “because I’m good at it,” or “it comes easily to me.”

Instead, focus on something that ignites your fire and makes you feel curious and excited.

This is also an excellent time to talk about an award or an achievement and give an anecdote about how you won it.  For example, if your favorite subject in school is history, you can discuss how it helped you prepare for a debate tournament you entered or a history fair you won.

13.  What is a Meaningful Experience or Class You’ve Had in School?

A question like this is another perfect opportunity to showcase your achievements.  It could be something as simple as working through a difficult dynamic during a group project to turn in a well-done assignment that earned the team an A.

Alternately; you could talk about a class you took or a teacher you had that inspired you to go to college and pursue a degree in your chosen major.  If at all possible, select an experience or class that somehow relates to the scholarship to tie into why you should win the award.

14.  Were You involved in Any Activities at School or in the Community?


It’s likely that this information is also on your application, but even if it’s not, resist the urge to list the 15 different clubs you participated in this year.  Instead, choose a handful where you made notable contributions and highlight your accomplishments.  This is another opportunity to tie your passions into the award.

If you are applying for a scholarship for writing, discuss the work you did with the yearbook committee or the school newspaper.  If you’re vying for an award in medicine, talk about your volunteer work at the hospital or animal shelter.  The more relevant the actives are to the interview committee, the higher the likelihood that you will be chosen.

15. “What Questions Do You Have for Me?” or “Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Add?”


This is nearly always how the interviewer will wrap up their questioning. And no matter what, your answer should never be “no.”

If you feel like you missed a chance to talk about a specific accomplishment that would interest the committee, this is the right time to bring it up.  It’s also a perfect opportunity to show your continued interest in the scholarship.  You can ask a few questions that may open the door to a deeper conversation or a mentorship opportunity in the future.  Some suggestions include:

  • What advice would you give to someone like me who wants to get into your field someday?
  • What motivated you to get into this field?
  • If you could give advice to your 18-year-old self, what would you say?
  • What do you think the biggest challenge is for new graduates who want to enter this field?

Finally, remember that with every scholarship interview question there is no wrong answer.

Be yourself, be truthful, and keep it professional and you are guaranteed to make a good impression.  The committee has already decided that you are a top candidate on paper. And now this is just your turn to shine.

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