Hope you’re all doing well. I’m going to share my Fulbright interview experience and hope it helps you out. I’m not sharing my name but if you’d like to reach out to me personally you can do it through Faisal Khan.
Profile Education: Bs Economics CGPA (3.75), a distinction with two medals. Intended field of Study: Masters in Education and Economics. GRE: 309. Awa 5. Toefl: 105.
Well, I guess you guys must be familiar with the routine drills of the Fulbright interview, but before that *Make sure you fill out your online Embark app and the Performa before you even think about the interview* Trust me it’s quite important. You’ll also need your NIC, passport, academic certificates and TOEFL registration. Prepare and keep aside everything you need a night before.
Be there on time, dress smartly and wear something you’re comfortable in because you could be the very last to be interviewed and it can get pretty tedious. After the security check, you’re taken into this huge room. They check your docs and confirm few things. They take a photograph as well, and then you’ve to come back to your seat. You’ll be asked to write an essay within 15 mins, take a couple of minutes to organize your thoughts and then write. There are two panels and they will be asked to wait outside the rooms before your turn. I’d say drink, eat and make you feel at home! While you are waiting, try to calm your nerves. Yes, you’ll have a lot of nerves if this is something important to you and that’s okay. The interviewers know that too and they will help you out if you’re nervous. For the sake of simplicity I’ll refer to the panel as
- Mr. A: Fulbright employee.
- Mr. B: A Fulbright scholar ( He didn’t ask me any question but he was smiling and nodding all the time, Guess he got pretty tired of it by the end of the interview :P, as he said “The next candidate must be waiting”
- Ms. C: Fulbright Employee. A sweet lady, who said that she would like to listen to me more when Mr. B said that may be the next candidate, has been waiting too long. 😀
- Ms. D: A Fulbright scholar
They were very nice and welcoming and after. But don’t just barge in and sit down on your seat. Smile, make a formal greeting. After that all of them introduced themselves make sure to acknowledge them, nod and make eye contact.
Then Person A asked me for an introduction and reason for my choice of degree (Economics of education). Of course I was really nervous and my voice was shaking!
But they helped me calm down and were pretty nice about it.
Then one of them said that they were a teacher too once and what is that I like about teaching and why after studying economics I opted for teaching.
I had mentioned a degree from Columbia in my app and the person D, asked me what kind of degree is it? Explain. I explained that in the first year it’s pretty much all theory and in the second year they ask you to chose your specialization, Educational (teaching) or policy. It leads to another question from Person A, what will you choose then and why? And the next question (the one I expected most) from the person A, the one I expected most “who not just pure education policy?”
Person C: Why are you so passionate about Economics? I want to know because I’ve studied some Economics too.
Then the person B asked the other panelists, do you have any other questions? Or are we done here.
Person D said I have two questions for her and then she asked me about an economist that inspired me most and then the challenges that I might face while studying in USA.
I think that’s it; there were some cross-questions that were taken from my responses. I made references, quoted relevant examples and made sure that they got to know me better as a person. I wanted them to see that I’m really passionate about what I’m doing and it’s where I see my future and it’ll enable me to make some contribution to my community. Then they asked me if I have any questions for them. That I did and not just one two of them! You’d say I was pretty much comfortable by then. In the end I thanked them.
I would like to remind you of few things.
- Don’t expect them to be an expert at your field and be prepared to answer and explain (in various ways) if there is something or anything technical in your statements.
- Don’t expect that they will just ask you questions from your statements, be prepared about everything, your university/program choices, general questions from your field and current affairs.
- Don’t assume anything and don’t take anything personal. Long interview, short interview, the attitude of the panel. You don’t know their criteria and trust me, whatever is meant for you, will be yours. No matter what. Allah SWT is the best planner, believe in him and believe in yourself. Be confident! (I said that to each person I interacted with on that day but I think I was the most nervous one there!) What I want to say is that be helpful and be who you’re!
- Lastly, I don’t suggest practicing your responses, being natural helps. Smile and don’t try to sound too assertive or stubborn.
I hope this helped! Best of Luck to all of you!
PS: For all the girls out there, Please take small handbags with you. You don’t want to be the one standing in from of the locker and trying to stuff your expensive bag in there. It’s very unseemly and it kills the poor bag!