How to Answer These Common Scholarship Interview Questions

businesswomen interview handshake concept for Common Scholarship Interview QuestionsIf you’re applying for a prestigious scholarship, you may need to complete an interview as part of the application process. This is especially true for university-sponsored full ride scholarships. The university wants to ensure that they are investing in a dedicated student. Every interview is different, but they usually touch on the same set of core topics. Read on to learn how to answer these common scholarship interview questions.

Tell Us a Little about Yourself

This is a common introductory question for a college scholarship interview. You may have filled out this information in your initial application, but that doesn’t mean the interviewer knows your history. The person conducting the interview may not be on the scholarship committee. Even if he or she is, there is no guarantee that he or she will remember your application in a sea of submissions.

Consider this as an opportunity to showcase your biggest accomplishments. Give them a verbal “cover letter” of your resume, with concise answers that highlight your merit. Key points to include:

  • A brief history of your childhood as a lead-up to your education (Raised by a single mom who showed me the value of hard work and dedication…).
  • Your current academic achievements (National Merit Scholar, honor society president, valedictorian, etc.).
  • Your extracurricular achievements that pertain to the scholarship (volunteer work, leadership roles, awards through an organization, etc.).
  • What inspired you to enter your field of study.
  • What your career goals are.

While you can cover some of the information from your resume and scholarship application, you should also include information that may not be on the application. We mentioned above that the interviewer may not have read your app at all. Yet, if he or she has, you want to bring something extra to the table.

Example Answer:

I was born and raised in a small farming community in Oklahoma. I actually thought I would grow up to work on my dad’s farm because that’s what my family expected of me. As I got older, I spent more of my free time working on the farm with my father. It was then that I saw a growing need for affordable agricultural innovations – something that would stop my dad and farmers like him from working 14 to 18 hour days. I came up with a new irrigation system for the farm that my dad still uses to this day, and that’s when I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I researched what it would take to become an agricultural engineer, and I took summer classes at a vocational school to supplement my small-town high school education. I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school, and I used my irrigation project to win first place at the statewide science fair. I’m now looking forward to pursuing my agriculture engineering degree at {university} so I can continue to ease the workload on farmers like my father.

How Do You Plan to Use This Scholarship?

Common Scholarship Interview Questions 1

Scholarship committees want to make sure they’re money is going to good use. They are your educational investors. You have to prove to them that their money is contributing to a worthy cause. Explain how you plan to use the scholarship money to further your education. You should have a budget planned out in advance. So, you will need to research the cost of attendance for your school. This will vary based on your degree and the number of credit hours you take. Key topics to include:

  • Any scholarships you have already received and how you plan to use those funds. Explain why you need additional money to fund your education so they do not automatically disregard your application because of your other scholarships.
  • The specific plan you have for the money, like books, fees, expensive school supplies, etc.
  • Financial support you may get from your family, or lack thereof. If your family cannot contribute to your education at all, you need to show the scholarship committee how much financial need you have.
  • Personal savings you plan to use to cover your cost of living. If you have money saved for college, that will show the scholarship committee that you are planning ahead for your education.

Example Answer:

Fortunately, my parents signed me up for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program as a high school freshman, and I met all the requirements to have my college tuition paid for. With the $1,000 available in this scholarship, I could pay to rent or buy my textbooks for two semesters, since some books are not available to rent. Any money I may have left after that would go toward necessary school supplies, like a new graphing calculator I know I will need for my physics class. I have money put away to cover my housing for the year, so I will not be using the scholarship for any personal expenses.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Common Scholarship Interview Questions 2

The purpose of this question is to see how well you have planned for your future. It’s all about making connections. The scholarship helps you study for this degree, which helps you pursue this career, which helps you achieve this overall goal. Your plans should be logical, realistic, and achievable.

More tips and sample essays on career goals

Again, think of the scholarship committee as investors in your future. They won’t want to invest in a faulty business plan. Key topics to include:

  • A time-frame for completing your degree.
  • Additional degrees or educational programs you may want to pursue. Such as a master’s degree or studying abroad.
  • A plan for entering your career of choice (internship, working in a certain city, working for a certain type of company).
  • A backup plan in case the ideal course of action does not pan out.

Avoid mentioning personal plans you may have, like getting married or having a child. Put the focus on your education and career. That’s what the scholarship committee cares about.

Example Answer:

It will take me approximately four years to complete my agricultural engineering degree. But I may take CLEP tests for my basics to speed that up. After that, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural engineering because it only requires an additional year of study. During that time, I can intern with one of the food manufacturing companies in the area. Or, I can work with the city’s water department to learn more about irrigation, drainage and collection. After I finish my degree, I plan to move to Iowa or Virginia because those states have the highest demands for agricultural engineers.

Why Do You Deserve This Scholarship?

Common Scholarship Interview Questions 3

This is a tough question to answer. What makes you a more worthy candidate than anyone else? No matter how humble you are as a person, you need to make a statement that clearly shows you are a worthy candidate. You know your worth, but they may not yet. It’s your job to communicate that to them. Key topics to include:

  • What you’ve done in the past that proves you’re committed to your education and future.
  • A brief statement of your financial need, without delving too far into a sob story.
  • Unique experiences that set you apart from other candidates.
  • NOT your GPA. Chances are most of the other applicants have strong academic records. You need to explain what makes you special beyond your grades.

In your answer, you may want to acknowledge that there are plenty of deserving applicants…”but.” You know that there are other people out there who could use this scholarship, but you are the one who can make the greatest use of it. Make the most of that “but.”

Example Answer:

I have spent the last five years of my life planning the next 50 years of it. I know that I want to be an agricultural engineer, and I know I need this degree to help me do that. You will probably speak to many other deserving candidates, but it’s my dedication to the future that sets me apart from the rest. I am passionate about agricultural developments. I want an education that will help me contribute to them. With this scholarship, I will be one step closer to achieving my goals, so that one day I can improve my father’s life and the lives of other farmers throughout the country.

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

Common Scholarship Interview Questions 4

YES! You should always have a couple questions prepared to ask the college scholarship interviewer. This shows that you are interested in the award and you have done your research before the interview. You should also ask questions for a college admissions interview, not just a college scholarship interview. We have an entire guide dedicated to this process: Don’t Forget to Ask Your College Interviewer These Questions.

If you take a little time to rehearse your answers for your college scholarship interview, you won’t be caught off guard. Think about your plans, dreams, goals and accomplishments, and use that information to ace your scholarship application!

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