Every committee is different. This is a summary of various students’ experiences in applying for the Rhodes and the Marshall, but the advice applies to other fellowship interview situations.
- There will be often several interviewers on the committee for some interviews, but for others there will only be two or three.
- Be yourself. This advice seems cliché but it is true. The interview is formal, but remember to keep a sense of humor.
- Channel your nervous energy into enthusiasm. Passion for your aspirations is an asset.
- Most interviews are formal; you should dress accordingly and be properly groomed. For men, it is standard to wear a suit or jacket and tie. For women, a dress, suit or a nice skirt and blouse are best.
- Body language is important. Maintain a firm posture and look your interviewer in the eye. Keep your hands in your lap and restrain gestures.
- Preparation is essential. Think about what you will answer to standard, open-ended questions: “What is your most significant achievement?” “What has shaped you?” “What is the most controversial thing that you have ever done?” “What was your worst failure and what did you learn from it?” “What will you do next year if you don’t get the fellowship?” “What do you like about Hunter?” “What do you do for fun?” “What do you like about your major?”
- Before you go into the interview, re-read your application. You need to be prepared to talk about any statement you have made. Anything you say in the application, especially the essay, is fair game. You will be questioned about your course of study, graduate school choices, extracurricular activities and research plans, so make sure you know what you want to do, where you want to do it, and why.
- Know something about what is going on in the U.S. or the rest of the world. Sometimes interviews will deal with current events. Read newspapers that report on international and national news. This is especially important for those seeking fellowships in a foreign country. Know the current events of your desired destination. The New York Times and The Economist are good sources. Have an opinion.
- Have in mind a book that is important to you and someone who has influenced you a lot. These are also standard topics of conversation in interviews.
- Give short answers to the questions. Interviewers usually last between 20-30 minutes, so time your responses accordingly. You don’t want to spend too much time on a question.