Most Important Fulbright Interview Questions

Posted by on June 18, 2015 in Fulbright Pakistan | 70 comments

Recently I had a chance to talk to around 17 of my students who went in for the Fulbright interview in October 2014 and secured the scholarship. Nearly all of them were a bundle of nerves as they entered the interview room – all of them had just travelled from their home cities to Islamabad and were obviously jittery. At the interview, sat 3-4 Fulbright officials, some asking questions, some scribbling notes and some just observing. Here are some common and extremely important observations and questions that these 17 students shared with me.

Also Read: Fulbright Interview Experiences

Generally the interview started with a light probe but for some it tested mental toughness. The initial phase of the interview is a process of getting to know the applicant in a professional and personal manner. The interview ranged from 5 to 25 minutes, which ended with the interviewers asking if the applicant had any questions to ask. There were some obvious questions such as “Why do you want to do a Masters?” to the rather unpredictable “What will you do if you don’t get the Fulbright?” The Fulbright committee also discussed in detail the personal statement, study objectives and the resume for most of the applicants and for a couple of applicants they even discussed the recommendation letter.

The most important and common questions asked and those that future applicants must prepare are as follows:

• Introduce yourself to the Fulbright panel.

• Why have you made the choice of choosing your undergraduate college and your major as well as your employer and your career?

• What do you think is Pakistan’s biggest problem right now? How do you plan to resolve it or help in resolving it?

• What is your greatest weakness?

• Why do you think this is a right time to do a Masters?

• How you will adjust in US? What you want to see in US and what challenges you may face there?

• How will you share your experiences in US with your people in Pakistan? What would you do to help promote mutual understanding between the people of US and Pakistan?

• What did you learn by working on the project or for the team you described in your essay?

• How do you go about solving problems or leading people?

• What would you do if you were offered a job in the U.S. after graduation?

• Do you think Pakistan has any future in the area you have chosen? What is currently being done in Pakistan to promote your field?

• Why did you have a low Quant score (163) in your GRE exam considering that you are an engineer?

• What can you tell us about yourself that would surprise us?

• How are you different from the other applicants we’ve interviewed?

• What do you think you can add to the Fulbright cohort?

• What is the first thing you would do in your field after returning to Pakistan?

• What’s one question you wish you were asked if we had more time?

Unusual questions come up frequently. However, there are a no trick questions for a person who is being honest and self-reflective. The interviews are generally very friendly and professional but sometimes they do get a little awkward. In almost every interview, one interviewer will always be cold and seemingly unimpressed – sometime harsh too but that is just how the interview setting is. In many interviews, they will joke with you and make fun at things you have said. Don’t take anything personal or derogatory – the interviews are designed to test your traits and personality. One of the applicants told me that he had a 331 on the GRE and one of the admissions panel members said that isn’t this too low a score? The student thought it must have been a sarcastic remark but none of the admissions panel laughed about it – they were all too serious.

Or how about this one? “What Pakistan problems break your heart the most? What news struck you most in the past two weeks?” If you’re well informed, those questions are invitations to show how engaged you are with Pakistan and its key challenges.

70 Comments

  1. ASA I am an Electrical Engineer with a CGPA of 3.64 but my score in GRE Quant. is too low (155).
    I am afraid they’ll raise this issue in the interview. How should I answer this question?
    My interview is next week.

    • WAS you can always say that you will retake the GRE to improve your score and that you rushed through your GRE test previously.

    • Dear Tayyab,

      When do they start calling for interview?
      And may I dare ask you, what was the result of your interview last year. I am in a similar situation as you were!

  2. Hi.. thanks for providing this resource online.. I have an interview next week and your webpage has been very helpful

  3. Agriculture

  4. Any idea when can we expect interview call from Fulbright

    • Fulbright interviews will take place in Septemeber

      • I heard that last year some of the interviews had taken place in August and the final decision was out by 5th October. When do they inform us about the interview? How much time do the candidates generally get for preparation?

        • By end of august and early september you will get interview calls….you will have 1-2 weeks to prepare for interviews.

  5. Hi Talha,

    I applied for Humphrey scholarship on last date of July,2018, but unfortunately due to lack of time i miss 03 reference letters , I just mentioned name and designation and contact numbers in application, can it effect during shot listing?

    • Hello, Yes it will definitely effect. Your app will be marked incomplete and not be eligible for processing!

      • Any resolution?

  6. Sir Talha,
    When does the initial reusult come. Like the initial screening reults?

    • Hi Hamza, They have already started to come out. This week they will finish informing successful students.

  7. Hi Talha.
    Have you any idea about FB process in Africa? I’m from Guinea-Conakry and I’ve been shortlisted and my interview is due in this week.

    B.R

    • Hello, Nope. We only know about the process in Pakistan!

  8. Salam
    1.do they ask hec attested Transcripts( Detail marks sheet) and other documents uploaded in fulbright application for appearing in interview?
    2. for interview do we only need proof of registration of TOEFL or is it mandatory to take toefl before interview?

    • W.A.S,
      1) Nope
      2) Yes you only need to take proof of registration!

  9. Hi talha
    I have applied for humphrey with tofel score 450 ,but i have lack in the speeking in english . Will it affect In evaluation in the interview . And what is you advice me to pass this obstacle.

    • Hello – Yes it will definitely impact your outcome…I ll suggest that you join some speaking courses to improve on your speaking ability!

  10. Thanks a lot for you help. Your website is amazing. I wish you all the best

  11. Hi Talha,

    I was selected for interview stage for Fulbright this year which is in the second week of September. I would like to ask a question regarding it.

    What is the passing percentage for the interview? I mean how many people selected for interview go on to receive the scholarship?

    • Hello Hamza, Calls are random!

  12. Hi Talha,

    I have been called for Fulbright interview next week and I have a question regarding it.

    What is the passing percentage of the interview stage? I mean how many people selected for interview go on to get the reward?

    Regards

    • Hello Hamza, So almost 35-40% students who are interviewed are selected for the scholarship.

  13. AoA
    I haven’t mentioned any of my preferred universities in my application. Does it matter in any sense?

    • W.A.S Nope it doesn’t but you should mention it in Embark before being called in for the interview. It is always a good thing to show that you have researched properly about U.S. graduate programs.

  14. Hi Mr. Talha,

    I would like to ask that are the interview calls made on priority basis? Like students who have a higher chance of getting the scholarship are called first and those who don’t are called later? Or are the calls made on a random basis?

    Regards,
    Hamza

    • Hello Hamza, Calls are random!

  15. Aoa Talha,

    I am really finding this site very helpful. I got called up for an interview this week. My question is regarding the embark form where they ask us to register the recommenders again, and it says that an email will be sent to the recommenders. Does that mean that they will have to upload the recommendations again. Secondly, is it required to fill the personal finances section on embark. Looking forward to your answers.

    • W.A.S Sami, No need to send the references again…..leave the personal finances blank….

  16. Hi Talha,

    I would like to ask that after I submitted my Fulbright application I also submitted an application to a US university independently for the Fall 2018 session but was rejected due to the fact that I submitted the application after the deadline.

    Should I mention this in the Embark application? And would this have a negative effect on my interview and my chance of getting the scholarship?

    • Hi Hamza, No need to mention it. If you were accepted etc. then you could have but not in this case.

      • Thank you Talha.

        Since I submitted the application yesterday, I did not have time thus I asked USEFP themselves and they recommended that I add the details and that it would not have a negative impact on my application

        Is this true or should I have not mentioned it for better chances of getting the scholarship?

        • You are welcome – Well it has no negative impact. It is just that I do not advise students to put anything in their app that invited unnecessary questions. Good Luck! Let me know about your interview experience 🙂

          • Hi Talha,

            I gave my interview today. The interview started very basically with a brief description from me about myself and my aims and then very quickly got focused on why I want to go and what I want to do etc.

            What I want to ask is that they never asked me what I want to do when I come back to Pakistani if I come back to Pakistan. They never asked me about my GRE or my undergrad education. Not even a comment. It was all focused on the masters program I had chosen. Is this a bad sign that they didn’t ask me those questions?

          • Hello Hamza, So you shouldn’t worry about it since not all interviewees are asked all of the requisite questions. Sometimes they find an applicant good enough in the first few minutes and they have already made up their minds till then.

  17. Under any circumstances can interviews be ohone or skype or not in pakistan?

  18. When called for interview, we are asked to fill Embark application before interview. Is it okay to make minor changes in SOP and CV? The application contents (SOP, CV, GRE) are already assessed when they shortlist for interview, or it will be reassessed in final evaluation?

    • Yes you can make changes. In fact if you have done something in the last few months since you applied for Fulbright, you can add that to your documents. They are not reassessed. Fulbright will use these final documents to apply for your program in U.S.

  19. Is it possible for an applicant to start school in Spring 2019 in the US, and still get Fulbright funding in Fall 2019?

    • Nope. For Fulbright you must apply to Fulbright directly and not to the university!

  20. Hello,
    I have been invited to the interview in a few days. It will take place in another city and I didn’t bring my certificates with me. They asked me to fill out another form before interview and bring four copies of it to the interview. I only took those forms. I can download my CV in here , do you think I would need my proof of certificates?

    • Hello – Well you can have someone send you scanned copies and you can print those out for the interview day. Yes you have to take all documents required by Fulbright on the interview day.

  21. Does having a family and kids affect their decision? And if asked about leaving them behind in the interview what shall i say?

    • No, it does not affect their decision. You can take them with you. They do not say that you can leave them back.

  22. Dear Talha, AoA
    Have you some information about how many interviews have been done for PhDs yet? And has the interview calls been finished or still going on?
    Please.

    • W.A.S Naveed, Interview calls are still going on.

  23. Hello dear, that was really helpful, I applied for HHH fellowship and my interview is going to be tomorrow, shall I expect the same questions?

    • Hello – Yes most of the questions are the same.

  24. Hello, I want to apply for undergraduate program .Please give me some guideline for effective Application or SOPS.

  25. Hi Talha, regarding the question “What would you do if you were offered a job in the U.S. after graduation?” does Fulbright expect people to stay in the US or are they open to people going back to their home countries?

    • Hello – People have to go back to their home countries. They cannot stay back in the U.S.

  26. Hello sir
    Can.uh tell.me when.they will call us for interview
    And they call only selected people or all.who submitted application? Please clear this confusion

    • Hello – all calls and selections have already been made….. only selected people are called for interview

  27. Hi,

    I have 02 queries,

    1. When Humpry scholarship announcement expected dates in 2019?
    2. USEFp accept IELTS or we will appear in Toefl for Humpry scholarship?

    Regards,

    • 1) Around mid of 2019 (june/july)
      2) no.

  28. Hi Talha,

    I was selected as a principal candidate for Fulbright this year. I just received a rejection letter from one of the selected universities today. It has got me worried. In terms of rankings the university was second to last of the four.

    What are the chances that I will get an admission from atleast one?

    I am an undergraduate of a foreign university and am a mechanical engineer.

    • Hello Hamza, Unless you don’t hear back from at least 3 programs there is nothing to worry about!

      • Thank you Talha.

        Another question. Is there a specific date before which if I don’t receive an acceptance the chances get considerably low.

        I have heard hat many unis send the acceptances by Jan after which most replies sent are rejections. Was just wondering if that’s true.

        • Nope there is no such date but generally, programs respond by March at max. Beyond that it is rare that they send out acceptances

      • Can you mention 3 programs please?

        • how would i know where you applied

  29. Hello,

    Please give info about difference between Chevening UK and USEFP USA Scholarship, their dynamics and levels for master or Fellowship. I mean which one is good.

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