20 Common Scholarship Interview Questions and Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

January 20, 2022

After you apply for a scholarship, the awarding organization may invite you for an interview. Your responses to the scholarship interview questions can help determine your eligibility for the award. In this article, we share scholarship interview tips and examples of common interview questions you might be asked when applying for a scholarship with sample answers.

Related: How Can a Scholarship Help You With Your Career Goals?

What are scholarship interview questions?

Scholarship interview questions are typically open-ended questions that a representative from the awarding organization will ask to learn more about you. Based on your answers, the interviewer decides whether you are qualified for the scholarship and whether your goals align with theirs. Many schools and organizations interview top applicants to determine which applicant will receive the award. Knowing how to prepare scholarship interview responses can help you feel confident and prepared during your interview.

Related: How Do Scholarships Work? (Plus Tips for Earning Them)

20 scholarship interview questions

Use this list of common scholarship interview questions to help prepare for your next scholarship interview. 

1. Tell us about yourself

This is an open-ended question that allows you to lead the conversation. The interviewer wants to know what makes you stand out from others. They are looking for specifics, not generalities. You can start with something general about yourself and then narrow it to a specific anecdote or point. This is also a good opportunity to highlight important and applicable skill sets.

Example: “I’m really passionate about animals. That’s why I plan on majoring in animal husbandry and becoming a veterinarian one day! I’ve already fostered several small animals and regularly volunteer at the animal shelter. The traveling veterinarian lets me observe procedures and learn how to care for injured animals. For instance, I helped him bandage a dog’s leg after it had been hit by a car. I hate to see an animal suffer!”

2. What do you want to do with your career?

Your response to this question should lay out a plan for your future. Explain what or who inspired you to pursue a particular field and why. Include how this scholarship will help you on your career path and what you would like to do once you have completed college or the program.

Example: “I first realized I wanted to take care of people when my sister was bedridden four years ago after surgery. My dream is to become a registered nurse so I can dedicate myself to helping others in an exciting and challenging environment. After getting my bachelor’s degree in nursing here at Jackson University, I want to work in the local health care system to gain experience. Then, I intend to pursue my master’s degree in nursing, so I can become a nurse practitioner. I see myself working in critical care in a hospital near my home in Dallas so I can be close to family when they need me.”

3. Who is your role model?

Your answer to this question can tell your interviewer about what type of person you hope to become one day. Examples of role models can include family members, professors, historical figures, politicians, activists and more. Describe why you admire that individual and which of their qualities you would like to emulate.

Example: “My role model is my late grandfather, who at age 25 started his own textile company that grew into a successful enterprise. He was a brilliant man who built his dream from the ground up and gave back to the community throughout his life. At times he put the success of his company over spending time with family, but I admire that he finally found work-life balance late in his career. He is who inspired me to pursue a business degree.”

4. Why did you choose this school or program?

Use your response to highlight your passion for the university, industry or subject. Describe what aspects are most important to you.

Example: “I chose Jackson University because its Young Scientists of America program is one of only three in the country. Having the opportunity to work in its state-of-the-art quantum physics lab would allow me to gain hands-on experience using the same technology and equipment I would need to use in my career. While I was visiting, the students and professors were welcoming, and I immediately felt at home.”

5. Why do you deserve this scholarship?

Look at this question as another opportunity for an interviewer to know more about you. You applied for this particular scholarship for a reason, so be open and honest. The interviewer wants to see that you have a personal interest in the scholarship and that it’s not just another bid for college funds.

Example: “My cousin has cystic fibrosis, and I’ve seen pediatricians at their best. That’s why I want to care for kids with chronic conditions. Medical school is expensive, and this scholarship will help me accomplish my goal of becoming a doctor and helping sick kids like my cousin.”

6. What activities are you involved in?

To answer this question, go beyond simply listing all of your extracurricular activities. Choose two or three of your activities or organizations that are most meaningful to you, and include any skills they have helped you develop.

Example: “I have played on my high school soccer team for four years, and we finally made it to the state championships last year. In doing so, I have learned the value of a strong work ethic and gained the ability to work well with a team. I also volunteer at the local aquarium, which has opened my eyes to the world of marine biology and conservation. I would like to pursue a career in this field.”

7. What has been one of your greatest achievements?

Use this opportunity to explain a significant accomplishment or project you worked on. Explain why it was important to you beyond the achievement itself.

Example: “I am an editor on my school’s yearbook staff, and last year we won the Interscholastic Award for Best Yearbook. Earning this award has been one of my proudest moments because, toward the end of the school year, we were unsure there would be a yearbook. We battled funding issues and had to find a new printer in mid-March, but we overcame those obstacles and maintained our dedication to quality to produce a beautiful and impactful yearbook.”

Related: Interview Question: “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

Other interview questions

If you have been invited to interview for a scholarship, you have probably already impressed the supporting organization. Use this as an opportunity to hone your interviewing skills and practice for future job interviews with these frequently asked interview questions:

  1. “How will you spend the scholarship funds?”

  2. “How would you describe a good college environment?”\

  3. “How did you decide on a major?”

  4. “What is your greatest strength or weakness?”

  5. “Tell me about a mistake you’ve made.”

  6. “How would you describe yourself?”

  7. “Tell us about a time when you were a leader.”

  8. “What is your favorite book and why?”

  9. “What was your favorite subject in school?”

  10. “Describe a meaningful experience or class you had in high school.”

  11. “How do you define failure?”

  12. “What motivates you?”

  13. “Do you consider yourself a leader or a doer, and why.”

How to answer scholarship interview questions

Here are five steps to help you prepare impressive answers to scholarship interview questions:

1. Practice

You want to appear comfortable and composed when you meet with the interviewer. If you’re feeling nervous ahead of the interview, try practicing what you will say with a friend, teacher or family member. Ask for feedback so you can plan effective responses. Also, practice good posture and open body language as you speak. Instead of memorizing your answers, try to start with talking points that you can expand upon. Doing so can help your answers feel more natural and less rehearsed.

2. Do your research

Visit the program or institution’s website to learn about its background, mission and recent announcements to better understand its values and goals. If you know who will be conducting your interview, you might research their professional networking profile to review their background and any connections or interests you might share. Also, take time to review the scholarship requirements and your scholarship essay, so, you can easily refer to important points.

3. Stay relaxed

Answering scholarship interview questions is typically easier when you are calm. Practice relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, before going into the interview. Smile, shake the interviewer’s hand firmly and be yourself. Act confident and deserving of the scholarship.

4. Be clear and concise

Take a few seconds to think about your responses before you begin talking. Don’t rush to answer without carefully thinking through what you want to say. Then, try to respond succinctly. Speak clearly and maintain eye contact with your interviewer. 

5. Use the STAR method

The most effective way to answer an interview question is with the STAR method, which combines examples with concrete, qualitative information. STAR stands for Situation (a specific occurrence or issue), Task (your role in the situation), Action (any steps you took to resolve or improve the situation) and Result (the impact of your action). Prepare answers based on real-life examples, so they are both compelling yet concise.

Read more: How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

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