A select group of awards listed on our website require applicants to participate in a campus endorsement process. Most endorsement processes include a campus interview.
What is a campus “Endorsement” or “Nomination”?
University Endorsed fellowships signify an award for which USC may forward a limited number of applicants to the national or international competition. Typically, a campus interview is used to help select the most competitive applicants for a particular opportunity for that application cycle.
An endorsement or nomination signifies to administrators of a fellowship that candidates submitted through USC have been thoroughly vetted by a university-designated review panel.
An endorsement or nomination often acts as an additional letter of support that moves forward with the application. This letter or form may also be part of the process for select fellowships that do not require a nomination.
Why is there a campus interview?
Campus interviews are designed to help determine if a fellowship is a good fit and/or provide additional feedback to candidates. A campus interview may or may not be required depending on the award or fellowship.
Certain fellowships do not have a limited number of nominations, but may still involve a campus interview for candidates to receive feedback. Please note: due to the highly-competitive nature of these opportunities, USC may still choose to limit the number of applicants selected to move forward based on the review committee’s assessment of their materials and/or interview.
Fellowships that do not require an institutional screening highly recommend full participation in the campus process in order to receive feedback and guidance from trained fellowship advisors, and faculty and staff.
Fellowships with campus interviews that do not limit the number of applicants forwarded by the University: Fulbright U.S. Student Program and Boren Scholarships.
What to expect in an interview
Most interviews will be scheduled for 20-45 minute blocks depending on the fellowship.
Most interview committees consist of 3-5 faculty members, AHF staff, and/or staff from other departments on campus. Members are selected based on research focus, field of study, fellowship alumni status, experience with the fellowship, knowledge of a specific world region, etc. in order to provide tailored and relevant questions and feedback to interviewees.
Committee members will ask for additional explanation, details, or clarification on parts of your application.
You may receive some level of feedback during the interview. This is a good professional development opportunity to help frame your application for an academic audience.
If your candidacy is not endorsed, the review committee will seek to provide suggestions for opportunities that may be of interest to you. Their goal is to help you navigate what is often a very complex process and identify the best-fit opportunities for you and your academic interests.
How to prepare for the interview
Dress professionally – business casual is appropriate unless otherwise instructed by AHF.
Be ready to speak to any and all parts of your application to provide additional details or clarification. There will not be time to touch on every component of the application and you will not receive questions beforehand so it is important to thoroughly review all materials.
Brush up on current events related to the country and/or topic of focus for your application.
Have a 5-10 year academic/professional plan in mind. In most interviews you will be asked about your postgraduate plans and ultimate career goals – the more specific you can be the better.
Arrive at least 5 minutes early. We recommend leaving some breathing room in your schedule before and after your assigned interview time just in case it runs longer than expected or committees are behind schedule.
If applicable, check your internet or phone connection beforehand. If connecting via video conference, run a test call.
Bring something for taking notes. Most interviews are treated conversationally as opposed to a more traditional interview structure. We want to make sure you can easily remember any feedback provided by the committee.
Prepare at least 1-2 questions to ask the interviewers. Think more broadly than about decision timeline; consider the interview panelists’ background/academic expertise and why they have been asked to serve on this particular fellowship interview panel. What can you ask them to enhance your application or better define your own career goals?
These interviews are facilitated very differently than traditional job interviews; they can sometimes feel circuitous, off the cuff, unstructured. Applicants may feel vulnerable sharing personal goals and experiences. Avoid setting expectations in favor of being open to and trusting the process. The committee’s goal is always to elicit information in order to best determine your fit for a particular fellowship and make recommendations for how you can achieve your ultimate goals – even if we recommend a different path than what you have proposed in a given application.
Benefits of going through the process
Regardless of the outcome, going through the application and interview process is a long-term investment in yourself.
Some areas of professional development include:
Self-reflection – goal-setting, brainstorming a 5-10 year plan, etc.
Verbal and written articulation of your past experiences, project proposal, research experience and interests, leadership examples, etc.
Preparation for applications for other fellowships, graduate school, and future employment
After the interview
If applicable, follow all remaining deadlines for submitting your application.
Utilize faculty and other mentors to review the feedback you receive, seek additional input, and, if required, produce a finalized draft of your application.
If needed, request updates, changes, or corrections from referees.
Once submitted, send thank-you notes to your referees.