Making it to the interview stage in any fellowship competition is a major achievement. It can also be the most stressful part of the application process. Fellowship interviews showcase your ability to engage with other highly intelligent people on matters of significant import. They are often the deciding factor in a committee's final selection of fellowship recipients.
If you are interviewing for a nationally competitive award, it is essential that you learn how to prepare for and conduct yourself at an interview. Come to UH 213 and review the binder of interview reports from other students at Brown who have been through the process. Finally, sign up for a mock interview, which will help desensitize you to at least some of the stress involved in interviewing.
Prepare for the Interview
- Know about the award. At a Truman interview, for example, you do not want to be surprised when asked what you like and dislike about Truman's legacy.
- Know your application. You will most likely be asked to discuss points you made in your application essay(s) or in other parts of the application.
- Know the school and the country in which you wish to study or research. Be prepared to explain why you need to study at a particular place or school. If you mention people's names, be sure that you know who they are and something about their work.
- Be prepared to defend your proposed course of study or research. Why should anyone care about Cicero? Isn't literary study just an intellectual hobby?
- Be prepared to discuss possible links between your interests and broader political and social concerns. How might the committee extrapolate from your ideas and commitments to contemporary issues more generally?
- Keep up with current events--local, national, and international. When reading the news, ask yourself what you think about the different issues covered and how they are covered. You want to have an informed and particular opinion if questioned by your interviewers about newsworthy events.
- Think about your potential role as an ambassador for the U.S. and/or Brown; you may be asked to discuss this at an interview.
- Be prepared to say something when you are asked if you have any questions or would like to add anything that has not been touched upon during the interview.
Practice for the Interview
- Participate in mock interviews offered by the Dean of the College office for the particular fellowship for which you are nominated. Mock interview teams consist of faculty, deans, alumnae, and other members of the Brown and/or Providence community. Depending on the fellowship, the mock interview team ranges from 3-7 people.
- Practice behavioral interviewing skills with friends or mentors.
Suit up and Show up
- Look the part: Professional dress is appropriate for the interview and any related activities such as a reception or cocktail party.
- Plan to arrive fifteen minutes early for the interview. Unexpected delays do come up, and a late arrival at an interview suggests a lack of forethought.
- When being introduced, shake hands firmly, make eye contact, and smile.
- Repeating a person's name when you greet him or her will help you remember it. ("It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Brown.")
- When responding to a question during the interview, address the entire group or panel, not just the person asking you a question.
- The informal conversation that often precedes and follows an interview is just as important as the interview itself. Stay in your role as a polished, prepared candidate throughout the entire process.
- When the interview is concluded, thank the panel for their time. It may be appropriate to shake hands once again with all members of the panel.