Fellowships Office

General Interview Suggestions

Many scholarships or fellowships include an interview or two as part of the application process. Typically, selection committees make preliminary decisions based solely on the written application and invite only the most promising candidates to be interviewed. The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet, show your grasp of current events and the latest developments in your field, and impress the committee with your warm personality. Generally, the interview will be scheduled to take place within a week or two of notification, so it is important to begin preparing even before you know that you are a finalist.

Before the Interview

  • If you are invited to an interview, look into transportation and housing arrangements. This information is often in the application materials or in the letter inviting you to the interview. Are you responsible for all costs, or will the fellowship sponsors reimburse you for any of your travel expenses? Do you stay with all other candidates at a specific site, or do you need to make arrangements for a place to stay?
  • When making travel arrangements, allow yourself plenty of time. Planes are delayed, trains run late and there are traffic jams. If you will be crossing time zones, do what you can to avoid the problems of jet lag. Make sure that you have accurate directions to the interview site, or know who will pick you up from the airport or train station.
  • Ask the fellowship sponsors for an itinerary of the interview day or weekend. Some fellowships have all the candidates attend a small social event before the interviews begin, or after they have all concluded. It is nice to know what to expect.
  • Contact the Director of Fellowships (276-5869 or fellowships@rochester.edu) if you want to have a mock interview arranged for you. Provide a list of possible times for the mock interview. Also contact the Career Center (275-2366) to find out what services they offer to help prepare you for interviews.
  • Look over your interview clothes carefully. Do you need to get them cleaned or pressed? Remember to shine your shoes.
  • Think of the most likely questions and prepare answers to them.
  • Get enough rest in the days immediately preceding the interview.

During the Interview

  • Be confident. You are among the few invited to be there.
  • Look at the interviewers. Be sure to offer a firm handshake at the appropriate time.
  • Listen to the question carefully. Do not be afraid to let a few seconds go by to collect your thoughts before beginning to answer.
  • Keep your answers concise and to the point. Do not be rattled or offended if an interviewer interrupts you; they are often looking for specific responses and once they have that, will want to move on to the next topic — this allows them to cover the most ground in the limited time available.
  • If the question can be answered “yes” or “no”, begin your answer with that word and then give the reasons for your answer. The structure will force you to give a clear answer.
  • If you do not know something, or have not thought about it, admit that. Your candor will be more impressive than a poor or incorrect response.
  • If you indicated that you speak a language other than English on the application, be prepared to hold a conversation in that language.

After the Interview

  • We would like to hear about your interview experience. Please come into the Fellowships Office and tell us about it!