By Deborah Vieyra
If your palms are sweating just thinking about your fellowship interview, know that you’re not alone. The interview can be one of the most daunting parts of your application — and with good reason. There you are, sitting in a room surrounded by a panel of well-qualified people who are there to decide your fate. It’s enough to give the most zen of people a mild panic attack.
Before you think I’m rubbing salt into your wounds, know that it’s not all bad news. In fact, rather than seeing the interview process as something to be feared, why not see it as an incredible opportunity? This is your time to plead your case, to show the selection committee that you are truly worthy of the fellowship on offer.
Here are 5 quick tips that might make that interview process a little more manageable.
1. Review the application your submitted
When you walk in that door, the only thing the selection committee knows about you is what they have read from your application. Go over the story you’ve told about yourself. See where their points of interest might lie and what they may find important to discuss. Remember that at some point, they read your application and decided you needed to move to the next level. They’re already impressed by you.
2. Go over your research or study objectives
You will more than likely be asked about what you would like to achieve through the fellowship. Make sure that you can articulate your objectives clearly. Think of them firstly in terms of what you would like to accomplish during the fellowship, and secondly in terms of how the fellowship will help you achieve your career goals. What can your research or field of study contribute to the world at large and why is it important for you to explore it now?
3. Research the fellowship body
Learn everything you can about the fellowship. What are their mandates? Fulbright, for example, prioritizes international diplomacy. Frame your answers to their questions in terms of your own alignment with their goals. How will you contribute to their organization as a whole? Decide on why and how you key into their mission. Think of yourself as an alumnus of their fellowship. How would you make them proud?
4. Rehearse with a friend or colleague
You only get one chance to have a successful interview. However, you have as many chances as you like to have a mock one. Find someone you trust — and that preferably has some experience with fellowships or interview processes — and stage a trial interview. Give them your application and get them to ask you questions about it. Tell them to not shy away from being tough with you. You want to go in there as well prepared as possible.
You wouldn’t have gotten this far if they didn’t believe you were a worthy option. Be confident in your own abilities. They’ve identified you as an exceptional candidate. That’s something to be proud of. So do whatever it is that you need to do to feel calm. Go to a yoga class, do some deep breathing exercises, go for a calming nature walk, talk to your best friend. Enter the room as if you know you deserve it.
Congratulations on getting this far. You’ve got this!
Deborah Vieyra is a Fulbright alumna from South Africa who completed her MA in Applied Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California. She now works as a writer, proofreader and performer in Vancouver, Canada.
© Victoria Johnson 2018, all rights reserved.