How to Answer Scholarship Interview | Answer and Analysis on each Interview Question| Tips and Tricks | Winning Scholarship Series

How to Answer Scholarship Interview | Answer and Analysis on each Interview Question| Tips and Tricks | Winning Scholarship Series


Mostly on a scholarship interview there will be three or four people who are going to the interviewers. Mostly each interviewers come from different background for example interviewers with Psychology background, engineering background, research background and one from the scholarship itself. Each of them will assess you on different subject, for instance your knowledge, your skills, and your behavior/emotionality.


Here below are real answers I gave to a real scholarship interview and its explanation why I gave those answers. Finally, although interview is not the only criteria they assess (they have a test series, for instance essay test, discussion test, Psycho test, and document screening); however,  mostly interview test has become the major or dominant aspect in their assessment. Therefore, you have to give the best in your interview test.




1. “what make you special to receive this scholarship/ what differs you from other applicants?”

“I know that you have met here many great talents or ones that similar to me, they all have desire to become professionals and represent themselves, city, as well as our country later, on the world scene of higher educations. However, not all of us can make it and will make it. While, I hope to be one who can make it, I do not want to underestimate anything. I have proven that I can study and work under high pressure and be successful.  I plan to study really hard and did my best to obtain scholarships. The fact that almost all universities I have applied accepted my applications, thus, shows my good qualification.  I believe I have relevant experiences, am responsible, and a dedicated person.  I believed I am a suitable candidate for this scholarship. I know that this scholarship is a big investment that you are going to give through my study, for that I will make sure my society will benefit.”


It is little bit difficult to explain this, but you still have to explain why you have to be the one who deserve the scholarship. There are only two ways to answer this. First by saying that you are the best of the best ( of course you need to have a perfect grade 4/4 and graduated extremely quick like two years from four years program, and have many distinguished achievements). In this case, you probably are not as genius as that. Therefore, the only way for you to answer this by showing that you are a competent person, who also very down to earth. You love to study, and you are a person who appreciate things and do not forget giving in return (giving benefit for your nation). Basically, you are saying that they won’t be disappointed by giving you their scholarship.


Also do not forget to say something like this,

I know that this scholarship is a big investment that you are going to give through my study, for that I will make sure my society will benefit”.

However, do not copy my words fully, because I already used it and it is getting very popular. When I said those words, my three interviewers was happy with my answer, and keep nodding their head while smiling to me. They seem to look very satisfied with my answer.



  1. “why do you pick this course subject?”

“Firstly, I have talked to expertise in my field, and they recommended me to take this field. Beside of that, in my home university, a city planning program will be opened this year.

Secondly, in 2012, there was a big case related in real estate and planning in Banda Aceh, at that time, a developer would like to build Best Western hotel in the available land in the city center right beside the holy Mosque Baiturrahman. They already given right to build by the city authority, and has done research on the feasibility of the hotel. However, their calculation wrong, it caused the failure, the wave of rejection in Aceh coming too hard, till they have to give up.

So my choice to the study program comes from understanding what skills we are missing in Aceh which is related to my expertise in architecture. Aceh is far behind in terms of development. And here comes the challenges. also I work on the property developer business, many told me to take the study program that expert in real estate, they also told me the situation right now in Aceh that  Many investors are concerned on lack of expertise in property business . In Aceh, the pure sector of designing is not really alive, unless we become a developer and use our own design work. But for developer, we have to face our own problem. For example lack of investment. most developers in Aceh are small developer, with very limited capital. Many failed, loosing capital for wrong prediction of buying capability, then his market over. Big investor even does not want to invest, because of the lack of expertise in the understanding of real estate market in Aceh. 

Real estate and planning is crucial for development of city, by having a good understanding, we can create a better place for living and affordable for society. So far we have only zoning system that divided place for each sectors. But there is no integrated area for living that is decent. For simple example, one area of house real estate should have park for playing, diffable access, and green area, and all should be counted. Thus, I choose this study program because I see a lot of perspectives and  needs in this field.”


This I the most important question from all of question in scholarship interview. Your justification related to your chosen study program could determine whether or not you are successful in the interview. Avoid giving a justification that sounds more like personal mission, for example,

“I would love to study in this program study because I still feel lack of knowledge in this subject and did not get it sufficient from my undergraduate study, and I do feel by myself I have passion in that”.

This kind of answer could lead to interview fatality. Try to focus on giving answer where your position is as a person who would like to give benefit to the scholarship body, and your mission is in line with their mission.


In all answer, you need to mention that you have asked other expert opinion about the field of study you want to pursue, and they actually really recommend you to pursue that. It is actually similar to indirect validation or recommendation given by expertise, and you just pass it through the interviewers. This could be a plus point, as you just gave a useful information for the interviewers that you do not just randomly pick a field or program study, but you actually did your research and ask for recommendation from the experts.


You can also approach this, by giving an interesting or popular case study, therefore, interviewers who could come from background that is completely differently from us, could also understand the benefit of one knowledge that you want to pursue. Make sure the benefit you mentioned has a strategic benefit and not a cliché. You can also draw them what kind of contribution you will give. But you don’t need to mention a very spectacular contribution which going to sound cliché (such as, you will big contractor in you city, or your long term vision that you will be a mayor). Oh no, please don’t. Just remember that interviewers are also people who are very realistic and smart. Just give them a realistic answer, for instance, you will love to be a consultant in that expertise, which is still rare in your city. Or you want to join some organisations to contribute there.



  1. Do you have a Letter of Acceptance? (the interviewers was checking on my file bundles, and saw that I have put 4 Letters of Acceptance on the top of it)



  1. Why do you have many Letters of Acceptance?

“I tried to apply to the best planning school in the world. Number one goes for MIT, and number two the best is in University College London, and the rest is in Melbourne University and other Australian university.“


  1. Then why don’t you go for MIT?

“I tried to be realistic at the moment, my English proficiency score is not enough to pursue MIT”


  1. Have you check the curriculum there? Also the professor that will supervise your thesis, and what is your thesis topic going to be?

“Yes sir, honestly I don’t really understand the methodology in thesis and still very open to study about it and other possibilities, because my thesis in my previous study in architecture was in form of design project only. But I have considered the topic “the relationship between social capital and money capital to place values”. As I mentioned before there was a case related to commercial investment in Aceh that happened to be failed, because of many factors such as syaria law which is very strong in Aceh. For an investment in Aceh to be successful, to study the syaria aspect must be put into attention as it could be a residual problem in investment. And there was a professor in UCL who understand this subject very well, whom is Prof. Carmona Rarora”


When I gave this answer, I could see that the interviewers was quite satisfied with my answer, and does not ask more.



Psychologist’s Questions

The questions below were asked by a psychologisy to me during the interview.


  1. Do you ever be far away from home?

“Yes I do, today I have been away from home” (my interviewer was a little shocked of my answer, and smile”

“Of course, the simplest one I was doing dedication in a remote area, and the most far was in Netherlands, I was working for a research.”


This question sounds easy, but do not ever answer “no” as this might cause doubt for the interviewers that you will not survive in different environment, and of course the next question will be trickier. Most people do not pay much attention to this question, and mostly underestimate your own experiences about being away from home like doing school or university dedications.



  1. Tell us more, how did you adapt in Netherlands?

“There is no problem arising from it, it was just little bit cold.”


  1. How do you deal with cold weather

“May be the problem was a windy cold weather, which could be so cold. But in there, facilities are quite good, if I feel cold I just went to a warm waiting area, like in the station. It was not a problem at all.”


  1. Who is the person who inspires you most?

“My mother, because she is a strong person.”


        “strong lifting heavy stuffs?”


“Sure, she is also strong lifting heavy stuffs“, my interviewer was little shocked with my answer

“My mother also a strong and a very smart woman, she never stop learning”


         “Is she a lecturer?”




       “oh that is why she never stop learning”


“Yes, even she is already 50, she is still very strong and young in achieving in her doctoral degree.”


This type of question is often asked. This is actually type of a general question, which you can answer anybody, however, some the question could be slightly different, for instance about a person who inspires you most in your field. Please don’t make a mistake in answering this type of a question. Because this question is actually asking how you going to project yourself, like who?. If you answer “Beyonce inspire me most”. This might cause the interviewers to be confused. Would you like to be like a Beyonce? If so, why bother to pursue further study with this scholarship.



  1. “How do people usually judge you?”

“According to my referee, I am a hard worker”


Sometimes answering these types of questions can be confusing, so just refer back to the letter of recommendation.


  1. “What’s your weakness?”

“I find it hard to believe in people”


This question can be a tricky question, so choose one weakness from the many weaknesses that actually could be a good weakness.



All of my interviewers were smiling to me, and the psychologist continuing asking question.



  1. “You have a lot of work experience, there are a job to be a professor interpreter, work as assistant supervisor at PT. Yyyy. How did you get this kind of work experience? “


“When I was in my university, I joined as I joined as a secretary in the Design and Structural Model Laboratory in my department. I joined it because though it is a laboratory, however it is quite busy and very bustling, more like a community. From there I got a lot of offers in volunteering or work on simple university-related work, such as university exhibition decorating. From there I met many people and offered a lot, for example to become a professor’s interpreter and facilitator. I had to take a test to be validated to be interpreter, I took it and become their interpreters. From that community also I got a lot of network.”



  1. “In essay you write about your business, how does this business relate to this scholarship?”

“In business we meet a lot of people with a variety of different characters that all want to be accommodated, from which I get soft skill in communicating and leading. In line with this scholarship, who is looking for people who will become young leaders.”



  1. “If we can know how much its monthly turnover?”

(This type of question is often used by interviewers anywhere both in scholarship and job interview, to confirm what you wrote on your essay or CV. Other frequently used questions to test, for instance, you wrote that you like Jazz. Then the interviewer will ask who is the jazz figures you like, do not answer Louis Amstrong, all people also know who is Louis Amstrong and everyone likes too, mention a specific name that only a jazz lover truly knows)



  1. “how do you see yourself?”

“I just want to be someone who can continue to be useful every day, wherever I am”



Then the psychologist smiles and finishes the question session. Greeted by a second interviewer who closed the interview process.




“Well, with a good GPA, and an interview today, good luck with your next study.”


“My greetings to ITB alumnies there”


“Where’s it, in Aceh?”


“No, of course in London”



I moved from my chair, thanking and shaking hand one by one of interviewers. Picked up the file from the interviewers’ desk and went out from the room.


Before facing this interview I made a list of all possible question that could be asked. I gather all information and here is the the file you can download for your study list of interview questions kikyedward and  scholarship question

This interview was done when I was applying to LPDP Scholarship. LPDP Scholarship is actually one of most generous scholarship and it comes form my home country. And they are very happy to pay your study to the top school/universities in the world.  However, the test to pass and win this scholarship, is the one I considered most difficult. As you don’t only face interview, but a series of tests. Begin with a tight application screening, online Psycho test, Interview, Leaderless group discussion and Essay on the spot. There are hundreds thousands people has failed this scholarship test.

After you won this scholarship, they also provided you with one week networking and pre departure training. From there, you will meet hundreds of the best people. Which you can see that they are really the best and you just believed you are one of it.



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