Top 5 tips to Calm Scholarship Interview Jitters

By UOW Malaysia KDU

So, you’ve made it this far! You have been shortlisted for the scholarship that you’ve wanted so badly that could make or break your academic future! Your emotions are high when you found out about being shortlisted and now you need to just get past that final hurdle: the INTERVIEW. This is where you meet a panel of judges sitting behind a table, prepared with a series of questions in order to pick your brain on whether or not you are the suitable candidate to be awarded the scholarship.

You count down the days till your interview comes and you visualise going into an interview room. You start to feel extremely nervous and super intimidated. You feel as if there are multiple sets of eyes on you even if it’s just one person and when questions are asked of you, you either start rambling, or, you completely draw a blank stare. Once your nerves gets the best of you, your mind automatically shuts down and you just don’t know what to say.

But hey, it’s really not that bad! In order to avoid the scenario above, here are the things you should keep in mind before going into an interview in order to maximize your confidence.


You wouldn’t want to go into an interview unprepared and not having predicted the questions and answers to what you would be asked. Be sure to do adequate research and prepare good answers for all kinds of interview questions that may be asked of you.

Always have extra stories in your back pocket. It’s important to have multiple examples, and stories and accomplishments that you can leverage and pull out of your back pocket at any time there is a new question being asked of you, as you don’t want to use the same simple story because that is not going to get you very far in the interview process.

It would be best to bucket your answers according to the category. For example, you can have a story that demonstrates your leadership, and you have another one that demonstrates your strong communication skills. However way you want to organize them, make sure you have a few examples or stories that you can simply pull out of your back pocket whenever a new question is asked.

Remember Your Value 

Knowing your value is all part of having a strong personal brand. So before your interview, ask and remind yourself, “Why did they invite me to this interview in the first place?” It’s because you demonstrated a certain value in your essay application that proved to them that you could be the right candidate to be awarded this scholarship. When you know your value, it could really help you boost your confidence.

To help with this, you can also ask yourself further questions. For example, your volunteering experience, like “What have I contributed to other organizations in the past or what have I done to improve a situation in the past that I can contribute with this new opportunity?”

Think of all the positive things that you’ve done, which will help you to build a concept around yourself worth and your value.

Use the Power of Persuasion

First of all, you need to know what it is that you want and more importantly, know how to convince and persuade others to help you get it. This has nothing to do with being manipulative or using unjustifiable means but genuinely being able to influence the person across the table from you that you are exactly what it is they need to award the scholarship to.

In order to be persuasive, be sure to frame every answer appropriately. When answering interview questions, you don’t want to dive into the answer right away. Instead, you want to take a step back and build it up. It’s almost as though you’re developing the skeleton before you formulate an answer. This is particularly applicable for behavioural questions.

For example, if the interviewer is expecting you to tell them an entire story about a situation or conflict that you had to overcome and how you handled it, if you don’t deliver the story the “right” way by framing it and setting it up properly from the beginning, then your point isn’t going to come across the way that you’d want and it won’t come across as very convincing.

A sample question would be like, “Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it”.

A lot of people get very superficial, and they brush over the facts in order to jump right into “this is how I resolved it.” What that does, is it lacks the feelings and the emotions and the details that you could’ve provided to the interviewer to really engage them. They don’t feel compelled and convinced that the situation was really all that big of a deal when you really just brush through it and get to the end.

Instead, describe the difficult situation itself. Really get into the details and paint a picture. Talk about the emotions that you experienced, the thought process that was going on in your mind, and then once you’ve set it up well, whatever process that you went through to resolve that situation is going to look amazing because you really did a good job at engaging and pulling in the interviewer to your story.

Visualize and Energize

Visualizing means that for the days and nights leading up to the actual date of the interview, you want to take some time out of your day even just for 5 minutes to close your eyes and visualize your interview going well.

See yourself getting along with the interviewer, being able to seamlessly answer their interview questions, and developing a really strong rapport with them. You see them nodding, you see them wanting to get to know you even more and really being engaged, and you see yourself going over the interview time (which is always a good sign) then that was allotted for you.

Athletes do this all the time before a big game. They do this so they can see themselves winning and it creates this sense of belief that it’s going to happen. What this does is that it creates this energy and momentum for you that you are going to do well. Once you have that, there should be nothing holding you back.

Sometimes, it’s just as straightforward as giving direct eye contact, leaning in when they lean in, mimicking their body language, and just giving that sense you’re genuinely actively listening to what they have to say, and that you’re really engaged in the conversation and you truly just want to get to know them.

Remember, “It is NOT the End of the World.”

Finally, be sure to relax and have enough sleep the day before your interview comes. Don’t start worrying about it too much as the panel of judges usually are very friendly and would want to put the interviewee (you) at ease before they start speaking to you.

All in all, do your best and always remember that if you didn’t get the scholarship, it is NOT the end of the world, as they are still many ways and channels to achieve what you want in life. A fine example would be Jack Ma, who despite being rejected by Harvard University 10 times, went on to find the successful e-commerce company, Alibaba and became a billionaire in the process. There are still many scholarships out there that are available in Malaysia which you can apply for again. The important thing to remember is to never give up on your dreams and to keep pursuing it in spite of facing rejection multiple times in your life.

With that said, we would like to wish you all the best for your interview!


01 August 2020


Environment and Health