If you’re called in for an interview in a national fellowship competition, you’re in great shape. It means that you’re one of the top candidates. Your goal at this point should be to show that you can make excellent use of the opportunity.
To prepare for the interview, carefully reread your application, as well as the fellowship’s website. You may have changed since completing the application; you do not want to surprise the interview panel by seeming inconsistent or ungrounded in your goals. You will also want to refresh your knowledge of the fellowship’s philosophy. Interview panels are interested in finding a candidate that will best embody, and instill in others, the values of the fellowship. Because of this, you should be fully prepared to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of those core values and to explain how your future intellectual and professional goals are compatible with them.
Read the newspaper every day as current events can often be springboards for interview questions. Recruit your fellow students to test you about your area of expertise. Arrange for mock interviews with the GS and OGP fellowships staff. Panels for these mock interviews will consist of administrative staff, faculty members, and past winners, all of whom will try to simulate the atmosphere of a real-life interview.
Be prepared for all kinds of questions about your discipline, your proposal, current events, and your future plans. Your goal should not be to answer all questions correctly—sometimes there may be no correct answer—but rather clearly, concisely, and directly.
Dress formally, meaning a suit and tie for men and a suit or nice skirt and jacket for women. Arrive early for the interview, allowing extra time for traffic or delays. Carry yourself confidently, sitting with straight but not stiff posture. Because the interview will consist of a panel, be prepared to make eye contact with all members and not just the one asking the question directly.