The interview is a very important part of your scholarship journey. It’s your chance to show the judging panel just how wonderful you are. Most scholarship interviews are held in person, but sometimes, it just isn’t possible to interview face-to-face and you’re forced to meet over the phone.
Phone interviews can be both good and bad. It can be less scary than the traditional face-to-face variety, which is always a plus. It’s also common for you to receive a first phone call from one of the judges informing you that you are a finalist for their scholarship. They might even suggest that you conduct the interview on the spot. If this happens, politely respond that this isn’t a good time and set up an appointment for a later date. While it might seem great to get it out of the way, it’s always best to give yourself more time to prepare by going over your original application and refreshing yourself on the organization.
Here are some steps for having a phenomenal phone interview:
1. Don’t be ‘late’. You know when your interviewer is scheduled to call, so make sure you are waiting right next to your phone or computer.
2. Make sure you’re in a quiet place. You don’t want to be interrupted by a dog barking or your little sister crying. These interruptions will quickly kill the professionalism of the interview.
3. Sit up straight. Yes, I know there’s a good possibility you’re conducting this interview from your bedroom while wearing your pajamas, but you still need to act like this is a ‘real’ interview.
4. Dress professionally. If you feel that dressing the part will help you to act more professionally – do it! If the interview is via a webcam or videoconference, then it is absolutely essential that you dress professionally. It’s also wise to be vigilant about the background your interviewer(s) will see. You don’t want to appear sitting amidst a mountain of dirty clothes and empty pizza boxes.
5. Be enthusiastic! Smile even if the judges can’t see you, because your happiness will come through in your voice. Also, if your interviewer is unable to see your gestures and facial expressions, be sure to make your words and tone as expressive and welcoming as possible.
6. Use notes. Since you aren’t in a face-to-face interview, you have the great luxury of having notes written down. Be sure to take full advantage of these in case your mind suddenly goes blank. A note of caution however – you must take care not to sound like you are reading off of a page.
7. Send a thank you note. This is important regardless of if you meet your judges face-to-face or over the phone.