Cornell University

The Interview

Generally speaking, the more competitive a fellowship is, the more likely that it will require an interview as part of the selection process. Highly prestigious fellowships may demand more than one interview.

What can you expect in the interview?

Interviews are as various as the interviewers who give them. You can expect, however, that discussion will be based primarily on your application materials, and on your plans for the fellowship and the future.

What can I do to prepare for the Interview?

Preparation and practice before the interview will help you feel less anxious and will increase your chances of success.

  • Reread your application. Know your essay, activities, transcript, and academic plan of study thoroughly. Your interviewers will.
  • Reread the description of the fellowhip provided in the application packet. Pay attention to the origin and intent of the award, and think about how you fit in with those goals.
  • Outline a general strategy: things about yourself you would like to emphasize, topics you would like to concentrate on.
  • Practice! Ask faculty to give you a mock interview. Or brainstorm a list of potential questions and ask your roommate to "interview" you. Tape record the discussion so you can listen to yourself later.

How should I act during the interview?

Keep a sense of humor. The fact that you are there for the interview is proof that the committee thinks highly of you. Share your thoughts, energy, and enthusiasm with your interviewers. Body language is important—as much for you as for the interviewers.

  • Breathe deeply.
  • Smile and look each interviewer in the eye.
  • Sit tall.
  • Take your time.
  • Be honest and straightforward.
  • Take pride in your accomplishments.
  • Share your convictions.
  • Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" or to ask for clarification.