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15 Scholarship Interview Questions (and How to Respond)

By Will Geiger

Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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and Cait Williams

Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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Reviewed by Bill Jack

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: April 9th, 2024
15 Scholarship Interview Questions (and How to Respond)

If you have applied to some scholarships, especially full ride scholarships and other competitive merit scholarships, you may be invited to interview as part of the application process.

The scholarship interview can be a daunting part of the application process. That’s why it is so important to practice through some of the most common scholarship interview questions.

While every scholarship interview will be different–some involve single interviews, while others require multiple interviews. Students may be interviewed by a single interviewer, and/or multiple interviewers during the selection process. However, there are certain basic questions that you are likely to encounter no matter what the scholarship interview process involves.

Jump ahead to:

Keep on reading to learn about the common scholarship interview questions you might be asked, as well as some strategies for answering the questions.

Related: How to start a scholarship essay (with examples)

Common scholarship interview questions (and how to respond)

Below are some of the general questions you might be asked in your scholarship interview. While these questions may be more general, it is a mistake to think of these as mere “warmup” questions.

Tell me about yourself.

How to respond? The best approach to this question is to briefly pitch yourself as a scholarship candidate. You don’t need to go over your whole life story, but you should succinctly discuss how your experiences uniquely qualify you for the scholarship.

Who has been a role model for you?

How to respond? Be genuine when answering this question. The goal is not to name the most impressive role model–some of the best role models can be family members or friends who are not famous or well-known.

However, you should try to be specific and use specific stories or anecdotes to explain your reasoning.

What’s your greatest strength?

How to respond? This is a classic interview question and an opportunity to share how you will be a successful student or scholarship recipient.

While it can be tempting to list a few strengths, you should try to keep it narrowed and use examples to show that you possess the strengths.

Tell me about a mistake that you’ve made.

How to respond? This can be a tricky question for many students. The important thing is to discuss a real mistake that you learned and more importantly, grew from.

Additionally, your mistake should not be so big that it might make the interviewer question your candidacy for the scholarship.

Why do you want to receive this scholarship?

How to respond? Your response to this question will depend on what the scholarship award is–a financial grant, enrichment opportunities, admission to the honors college, etc.

You should be honest, but also try to bring your response back to how you would contribute to the college as a student and alumni. Ultimately, scholarships are investments for organizations to support students who will make an impact.

Related: Overview of common scholarship essay prompts

Other scholarship interview questions

Here are some other interview questions that you might encounter in a scholarship interview:

  1. How has your experience at [insert high school] been?
  2. What has been your favorite class and why?
  3. Who has been your most inspiring teacher?
  4. Do you have any ideas of what you might like to study in college?
  5. In your high school career has there been a paper or project that was particularly thought-provoking? Tell me more about it.
  6. How do you like to spend your free time?
  7. What is your favorite book?
  8. How would your best friend describe you?
  9. What has been the most meaningful activity/involvement from the past few years?
  10. Is there anything you are looking forward to trying in college?

7 tips to ace your scholarship interview

  1. Before the interview, spend some time thinking about your experiences, achievements, and aspirations. This will help you get in the mindset for your interview.
  2. Additionally, you should spend some time researching the scholarship awarding organization to learn more about its mission and the students who have won scholarships previously.
  3. Arrive for the interview early (and plan for traffic, train delays, etc.)
  4. Dress professionally, but comfortably (when in doubt about attire, you can always reach out to the scholarship awarding organization)
  5. Stories are powerful–when answering questions you should always elaborate with specific examples or anecdotes
  6. After the interview, you should send your interviewer a thank you card, letter, or email
  7. Finally, it’s okay to be a bit nervous! The interviewer knows that this is a stressful process. Take a deep breath and do your best!

Read more: Ace your college admissions interview in 60 seconds

Final thoughts

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