Preparing for an Interview

Many scholarship competitions require interviews, such as the Marshall and Truman, so here are some tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Before the Interview


  • Know your interviewers--the organization namesake, etc.
  • Review your application to anticipate questions.
  • Stay apprised of current events in the news.
  • Participate in mock interviews in our office.
  • Review relevant information listed below.


  • Create a packing checklist.
  • Pack backup clothing options.
  • Consider bringing a Tide Pen for emergency spills.
  • Choose neat, conservative clothing that is clean and comfortable.
  • Try on all clothes in advance to check fit.
  • Avoid new shoes you haven't broken in.
  • Don't forget your photo ID or other required documents.


  • Buy or print a map of the location in advance.
  • If possible, investigate the site ahead of time.
  • Leave plenty of time for the unexpected.
  • Get enough sleep prior to departure.
  • Eat at least an hour in advance of your interview.
  • Avoid greasy and/or spicy food.

During the Interview


  • Make eye contact frequently.
  • Smile.
  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Don't fidget.
  • Avoid distracting tics.
  • Use hand gestures sparingly.
  • Shake hands with confidence.
  • Try to relax.


  • Carefully articulate without rushing.
  • Project to everyone in the room.
  • Take necessary pauses to collect your thoughts.
  • Eliminate filler words, such as "um" and "like."
  • Avoid slang or discipline-specific jargon.
  • Spit out your gum before you enter the room.
  • Do not spend too much time on any one answer.
  • Treat the interview as a discussion, not an interrogation.


  • Listen carefully before responding.
  • Request clarification as needed.
  • Address the question asked.
  • Admit if you do not have an informed responce.
  • Expound on a Yes/No question.
  • Say what you need to say and move on.
  • Follow up generalizations with more specific examples.
  • Feel free to disagree, but do so with respect.
  • If you make a mistake, move on.
  • Make clear your passions and expertise without bragging.
  • Don't introduce issues you are not prepared to discuss.
  • Don't forget to thank the judges for their time.
  • Relevant Information for Interview Preparation

Be Prepared to Identify:

  • Award's namesake/founder
  • Interview panel members
  • Important elected officials-international, national and state
  • Significant figures in your field
  • Key texts in your field-title, author and thesis

Be Prepared to Address:

  • Long and short term academic and/or personal goals
  • Favorite books and authors
  • Important mentors or role models
  • Admired civic and political leaders