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Tips for a Better Interview

  1. Be yourself! If you are not, it is likely you will not have a great interview. Do not forget, however, that you are being interviewed in a formal situation.
  2. Dress code: Dress professionally, but in a manner that will make you feel comfortable.
  3. Don’t worry about being nervous. Everyone is. The interviewers want to challenge you, but they certainly will not be confrontational.
  4. Language Ability: The campus committee places emphasis on the feasibility of your proposal when evaluating each application. For this reason, they stress the importance of foreign language skills if you are going to a country where the native language is not English. The committee is not so much looking for fluency, but more for your potential to communicate in the language.
  5. Know something about the country to which you are applying. Familiarize yourself with current events, politics, literature, cultural events and what is going on in your field in that country.
  6. Know something about what is going on in the US (especially issues relevant to what you study). Read a paper that reports on international news as well as national news.
  7. Reread your application before going into the interview. Interviewers may ask you about any and all parts of your application, and you need to be prepared to talk about any statement you have made. It is so easy to forget a seemingly insignificant point you may have made, and it is quite embarrassing to draw a blank on your own writing. When you reread the application, try to examine what some of the ramifications of each sentence might be and how an outside reader might interpret it. Read each paragraph and try to think of one possible question the interviewers might ask—then completely and concisely answer all of your own questions. Consider having a friend read your essay and comment or question you on points he or she finds particularly interesting or unusual.
  8. Body language is important! Don’t slouch. Eye contact is important; look your interviewers in the eye. It is good to firmly clasp your hands in your lap, especially if they are shaking.
  9. Do not be afraid to state your opinions and argue them. As long as you are able to support your opinions, and do so without becoming angry or defensive, you will do fine. Some interviewers are curious to know how you will react in a situation where your beliefs are being questioned. The same interviewer who presses you to the wall about your thoughts on a particular matter may agree with you completely, so don’t waffle for the sake of agreement. Just be straightforward and stand by your convictions.
  10. Channel your nervous energy into enthusiasm. Be genuinely enthusiastic about the prospects of studying and/or teaching overseas the opportunities a Fulbright grant can afford you. Be positive and don’t hesitate to let them know you really want the scholarship.
  11. Come prepared with questions to the campus interview. At some point, committee members will ask if YOU have any questions. Be certain to be prepared with several questions. They might be on the application process, a particular issue you have with your own essay, or concern about a recommender.
  12. Unsure of a question? If you are unsure of what a question is getting at, you can do one of two things: Take a definite line on what you thought the question was or ask politely and briefly for clarification.
  13. Do not rush your answers. Don’t babble on about nothing as you rack your brain for an answer. Consider each question and provide a thoughtful answer. Don’t be verbose. If an interviewer wants more information, he or she will ask for it.
  14. Feel free to say “I don’t know.” The interview should be approached as a conversation, not as an oral exam. Never go into an interview worried about failing one question.
  15. Know something about the origin and intent of the Fulbright. Read the Fulbright US Student Program Handbook or its website for this information.
  16. How you enter and exit is important. Smile at everyone when you come in and leave time for a casual or humorous comment or two at the beginning. Let them set the pace. Thank them and make a polite exit when they indicate the interview is over, but don’t rush out the door.
Last Updated: 12/29/22