First of all, let me say “Happy New Year” to all my blog readers! I hope 2016 brings you everything you wish for. 2015 was a great year for me so I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings.
Congratulations to those of you who have reached the interview stage in the Fulbright application process! That is a major achievement so well done. Although the Fulbright interview is more or less the same as any other kind of interview, here are my top tips for interview success.
- BE YOURSELF
I know this sounds so clichéd but it’s really important to be yourself. Fulbright are looking for people who will be good cultural ambassadors. And a good cultural ambassador is someone who is social and friendly as well as hard-working and intelligent. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. If you come across as too standoffish or unwilling to engage in conversation then you may not be perceived as a good fit for the program.
- BE PREPARED
This goes without saying but you should really be aware of what the Fulbright program aims to achieve, why J. William Fulbright established the program in the first place and why you would make a good Fulbrighter. You should also read over your application and anticipate any questions that may arise.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO DIRECT THE INTERVIEW
If there is something that you want to say, then say it. Don’t wait for a specific question. The interview is about 20 minutes long and that time can go by really quickly so use any opportunity that you are given to share the information that is important to you.
- STAY CALM
I was really nervous before my interview. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest before I was called into the interview room, my mouth was dry and I had butterflies in my stomach. This is normal but I knew that I could mess up the interview if I let my nerves get the better of me. Have you every walked out of an interview and couldn’t remember what questions you were asked or how you responded? Well that has happened to me and I didn’t want it to happen again! So to help me stay calm, I made it a point to talk slowly, breathe deeply and think about each question carefully before I answered.
Those are my top tips. Best of luck in the interview! Don’t worry if you didn’t get an interview this time round because you can apply again this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting Ireland’s new Fulbrighters for 2016. I can honestly say that I have never met a Fulbrighter that I didn’t like!
I’m off to Atlanta, Georgia, tomorrow for the American Historical Association’s annual meeting. I’m presenting on representations of race and racism in nineteenth century textbooks so I’m really excited about that. I’ll fill you all in when I’m back.