Campus Interviews

What is a campus “Endorsement” or “Nomination”?

  • For some fellowships, USC has a limited number of applicants who can be moved forward to the national or international competition. An interview is used to help select the most competitive applicants for a particular opportunity for that year or application cycle.
  • An endorsement or nomination signifies to administrators of a fellowship that candidates submitted by USC have been thoroughly vetted a University-designated review panel.
  • An endorsement or nomination acts as an additional letter of support that moves forward with your application. This letter or form may also be a part of the process for select fellowships that do not require a nomination (see below).

Why is there a campus interview?

  • Certain fellowships do not have a limited number of nominations, but may still require 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 a candidate’s materials and/or interview.
  • All campus interviews are designed to help determine if the fellowship is a good fit and/or provide additional feedback to candidates.
  • 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 fellowships advisors and faculty.

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 alternative 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 for the committee. 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 relevant 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 plan and ultimate career goals and 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 the interview time you are assigned 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 call, 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 can feel vulnerable sharing their personal goals and experiences.  Avoid setting expectations in favor of being open to and trusting of the process.  Our goal is always to elicit information so that we can 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.
    • Interview skills
    • Preparation for applications for other fellowships, graduate school, and future employment

After the interview

  • If applicable, follow all remaining hard deadlines for submitting your application.
  • Utilize faculty and other mentors to review the feedback you received, 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.

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