Earning a scholarship eases the financial burden of attending college and unlocks networking opportunities down the road. If your route to securing a scholarship includes an interview, you’ll need to practice before the big day.
Due to the rising cost of attending college, an increasing number of students are searching for scholarships, making the competition for these awards stiff. This means that preparing for your college scholarship interview is crucial.
The list of college scholarship interview questions below will help you prepare to show the panel that you are a student worth investing in.
Common Scholarship Questions
No matter what scholarship you are applying for, the interviewer wants to know who you are, how you think and what drives you. These following college scholarship interview questions are ones that you should be prepared to answer.
1. What is your proudest accomplishment?
Many students feel the need to be modest about what they’ve achieved. While you don’t want to come across as cocky, it’s okay to talk about your accomplishments and discuss why you are proud of them. The interviewer wants to know about your work ethic and how you view success. Be sure to discuss why this achievement means a lot to you and how you could reach it.
2. Tell me about a person who you look up to. Why do they inspire you?
Who you look up to says a lot about what you value in life. Showcase who inspires you and provides clear examples of actions this person has taken that you appreciate. This type of question is a great opportunity to tell a story that sticks in the interviewer’s mind. If you select someone well-known, be sure that the person is not in conflict with the college’s values or organization you’re interviewing with.
3. Imagine yourself five years from now. What are you doing?
This question might cause your heart rate to increase. Take a deep breath. Interviewers understand that students are still figuring out plans. The point of this question is to determine whether you have a forward-looking mindset. Are you the type of person who floats along in life or formulates goals and takes action?
4. Why do you deserve this scholarship?
There’s a very high probability you’ll be asked this question. So why not formulate a great answer ahead of time? In your answer:
- Include a reason that’s different from what others will likely say. For example, “I am a hard worker” might be accurate, but it’s unoriginal.
- Explain how you connect to or embody the values of the award. Pick one specific trait that you possess and demonstrate how it aligns with the mission of the college.
- Discuss a challenge or hardship that you have overcome and how that has prepared you for upcoming challenges.
These are just a few of the ways you can approach this question. Feel free to tailor your answer to showcase your unique points of differentiation.
Academic Scholarship Questions
Academic scholarships are one type of merit-based scholarship that many colleges and organizations offer. Since these scholarships typically have high GPA requirements and other requisites to determine who makes it to the interview, expect questions about more than just your academic achievements.
1. What extracurricular activities or community service involvement have you participated in?
Much like, “Tell me about yourself,” this question is almost guaranteed to come up in your interview. The interviewer is looking for a well-rounded applicant who will be active in and out of the classroom. Discuss a meaningful activity you take part in outside of academics. Then share what drew you to it and how it adds fullness to your life and impacts others.
2. Discuss a time when you made a mistake.
Life is full of challenges. Sometimes, you make mistakes. This question analyzes how you deal with personal shortcomings. Are you self aware, or do you deny responsibility? To impress the interviewer, discuss when you messed up and share how you solved the problem or made amends. Then, talk about what you learned from it.
Make sure you choose a mistake that is not too personal. For instance, mentioning your failure to ask for help when taking on a large project is more appropriate than talking about a mistake you made in a romantic relationship.
3. What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?
This is another question that allows the interviewer to gauge your level of self-awareness. You should discuss a strength that you can demonstrate via a story or past activity. For instance, stating that your strength is perseverance and then discussing how you rose above many challenges and maintained a high GPA is powerful.
When it comes to weaknesses, don’t pretend to be perfect. Select a real weakness, then discuss how you’re addressing this weakness. For more tips on discussing strengths and weaknesses, read our guide to answering common college interview questions.
4. How would earning this scholarship impact your college experience?
Discuss why you are a deserving candidate for this scholarship. Would this award allow you to pursue leadership positions on campus rather than taking on a job to pay for school? Is there a unique reason that you deserve this scholarship? Share an honest and compelling answer with the interviewer.
Community Involvement Scholarship Questions
Community service scholarships award students that have made an impact on their communities. Whether the award is being offered by a local organization or a nationally recognized one, be prepared to answer these college scholarship interview questions.
1. What has been the most rewarding part of your community service experience?
You’ve made a difference in your community—what do you get out of it? This is not the time to talk about how community service looks good on a resume. Instead, discuss how the service widened your perspective, made you more grateful for your circumstances or allowed you to connect with others in a way you otherwise would not have.
2. How do you plan to continue community service during your time as an undergraduate?
Your time at college will likely be busy. Discuss how you will ensure you continue to give back. Before the interview, research community service opportunities on campus and in the local area. Having concrete examples of what you plan to do is leagues above a vague response about making time for volunteering.
3. What led you to choose your major, and what do you hope to do with it?
As important as your community involvement is, college is about education. This question provides you with an opportunity to show you’re serious about academics. Share how much you value a college education and how this scholarship would help to make it possible. Then, discuss your future career plans. If possible, tie your professional goals to the community involvement cause that you’re most passionate about.
4. How do you align with the values of this organization?
This question might come in a different form, such as:
- What do [insert values] mean to you?
- How does your service align with the history of this college or organization?
The point is to assess whether you’re the right fit for the award. Discuss how you live out the values of the college through your service. If the scholarship is in honor of a particular individual, share how that individual lived by the values and how you strive to as well.
Athletic Scholarship Questions
In addition to competing for a position on the team, you’ll compete against talented athletes for scholarships from the school. Present yourself as a polished and well-rounded candidate with thoughtful answers to these questions.
1. How are you different from other athletes hoping to join the team?
This does not have to be an athletic-related answer. The coaches have your stats and tapes. Share something unique and even surprising about yourself. If you play an instrument, mentor young kids, volunteer at a local charity or do anything that makes you appear well rounded, include it in your response. If you do have an athletic-related answer, make sure it is memorable.
2. What interests you about this athletics program?
It’s no secret that athletes look around at several different schools before settling on one. Let the interviewer know that you are seriously considering this school and share a few concrete reasons why. To build rapport, you can share a story from your time interacting with current athletes and coaches. Describe how the attitude or actions of the people signaled to you that this program is special.
3. Tell me about your academic performance.
One constant struggle for coaches is dealing with grade eligibility requirements. Each university has minimum GPA requirements that athletes must meet to play. This question allows the scholarship committee to gauge how serious you are about school.
If your grades are lackluster, be honest about those shortcomings. Reassure the interviewer that you are committed to your education and do whatever is necessary to keep your grades up. Whether you have excellent grades or ones that leave room for improvement, stress your dedication to performing well in the classroom.
4. Is there anything you would like to share with the committee?
This is a frequently asked college scholarship interview question that leaves the floor open to you. Capitalize on this moment by expressing something you were not able to say during the interview.
This can be something you appreciate about the college or a further explanation about how the scholarship will help you. Before the interview, think of a few things you could say for this answer. Of course, make sure you follow up the next day with a thank you note.
Calm Interview Nerves and Answer with Confidence
You’ve made it through the application round, and the scholarship committee wants to get to know you beyond your essay. Don’t let anxiety and nerves impact your performance. Practice honing your interviewing skills with InterviewFocus!
If you’re hoping to wow the scholarship panel, practice in an innovative way that blows the typical mock interview out of the water.
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