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Applying to be Mandela Washington Fellow: The Interview, Your Turn to Shine
November 6, 2014

Prepare for the Interview

  1. The key to a successful interview is to answer the question asked, not the question you want to hear or are best prepared for. Be sure to listen to the interviewer carefully in order to hear the full question. Answer the question directly and fully.
  2. You will likely be asked a number of questions related to your application. Review your application prior to your interview so that you can be confident and articulate when discussing your responses.
  3. Be prepared to explain why you chose your selected program track.

Make a Good Impression

  1. Wear business attire.
  2. Maintain eye contact. Engage everyone on the selection panel, not just the person asking a question.
  3. Greet each person on the selection panel when you enter the interview room and thank each person when you leave.
  4. Hold an upright, but not wooden posture. Your body language should indicate engagement, confidence and composure.
  5. Beware of nervous habits like fixing your hair, constant smiling, fumbling with your fingers or jewelry, and mumbling or raising your voice.

Respond Thoughtfully to Questions

  1. Listen carefully to each question and take time to consider your response so that you can respond both briefly and fully. It is better to pause to think before you answer than to rush into a poorly thought out response . Avoid saying “That’s a good question” as a way to gain time to think.
  2. Be honest. If you do not know the answer to a particular question, admit that you do not know.
Rear view of seated woman facing seated man (@AP Images)
(@AP Images)



  1. Engage friends or colleagues in conversations in which you are challenged to present and support your ideas or interests. Get their feedback. Notice how you make those talking with you feel comfortable and engaged even when the conversation is challenging.
  2. Do practice interviews with your friends or colleagues. Some people find it helpful to practice answering common interview questions while looking in a mirror.

Source: Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

You also may be interested in The Crucial Job Interview.