Most Important Fulbright Interview Questions

Posted by on June 18, 2015 in Fulbright Scholarship | 96 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.


  1. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

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

    • Avatar

      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. Avatar

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

  3. Avatar


  4. Avatar

    Any idea when can we expect interview call from Fulbright

    • Avatar

      Fulbright interviews will take place in Septemeber

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        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?

        • Avatar

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

  5. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

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

      • Avatar

        Any resolution?

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

    • Avatar

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

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    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.


    • Avatar

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

  8. Avatar

    Salam 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?

    • Avatar

      1) Nope
      2) Yes you only need to take proof of registration!

  9. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

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

  10. Avatar

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

  11. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

      Hello Hamza, Calls are random!

  12. Avatar

    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?


    • Avatar

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

  13. Avatar

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

    • Avatar

      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. Avatar

    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?


    • Avatar

      Hello Hamza, Calls are random!

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    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.

    • Avatar

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

  16. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

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

      • Avatar

        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?

        • Avatar

          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 🙂

          • Avatar

            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?

          • Avatar

            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. Avatar

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

  18. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

      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. Avatar

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

    • Avatar

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

  20. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

      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. Avatar

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

    • Avatar

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

  22. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

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

  23. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

      Hello – Yes most of the questions are the same.

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        What is the scholarship interview assessment criteria?

        • Avatar

          There is no rigid criteria – as long as the panel finds the applicant confident, ambitious and willing to contribute to Pakistan.

  24. Avatar

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

  25. Avatar

    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?

    • Avatar

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

  26. Avatar

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

    • Avatar

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

  27. Avatar


    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?


    • Avatar

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

  28. Avatar

    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.

    • Avatar

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

      • Avatar

        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.

        • Avatar

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

      • Avatar

        Can you mention 3 programs please?

        • Avatar

          how would i know where you applied

  29. Avatar


    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.

  30. Avatar

    Hi Talha,
    Just going through the Fulbright process and now they have sent me the medical form to be filled by a physician. In it, they ask about vaccinations. My vaccinations were done a long time ago and even though I know three dates, I don’t have the vaccination slips anymore. Will this affect my clearance in any way? I asked USEFP directly and they said that they do not require vaccination proof.

    Also has medical clearance ever been denied before? I am writing physically healthy and have no illnesses.


    • Avatar

      Hello – yes vaccination proof is not needed. Medical clearance is denied if there are some severe problems/diseases.

  31. Avatar

    I have been selected for Fulbright interview by the end of April. My discipline of interest is rehabilitation. I wish to ask on guide that can assist me during the interview

    • Avatar

      Good luck with your interview. The above post contains all the necessary info regarding it! Congratulations!

  32. Avatar

    hello I am from South Africa and I am scheduled to attend an interview next week…I would like to know are they going to discuss about what is written in the recommendations? and also any chance of them focusing more on the field that I chose?

    • Avatar

      Yes they will be focusing on all documents and essays that you submitted with your app.

  33. Avatar

    I have been called for an interview in September. Can i change my Masters field from Biomedical Engineering to Renewable Energy Engineering now?

  34. Avatar

    I wanted to ask that if I haven’t received any calls yet does that mean I haven’t been shortlisted? I applied for the fullbright graduate program…

    • Avatar

      Hello – yes if you have not received a call uptil now it means you have been rejected. Unfortunately.

  35. Avatar

    Hello please I will like to know the fullbright eligibility criteria in order to know if am eligible to apply and what are the key points of a fullbright application ?

  36. Avatar

    My previous TOEFL is going to be two year’s old a week before the interview day. Do I need to register for a fresh TOEFL before interview as required?

    • Avatar

      yes you will have to register for a fresh TOEFL exam.

  37. Avatar

    Hi, Talha some people are saying that call for interviews are over for fulbright 2020 aspirants. Do you have any prior information regarding this?

    • Avatar

      Hi Maham – yes they are done with the calls now.

      • Avatar

        Hi Talha, you have an amazing platform that helps hundreds of people like myself. I just wanted to tell you (something you probably know) and it is for hopeful people like myself – that Fulbright calls resumed from today after a 5-day break.

        • Avatar

          Hi Maaham – Thanks for the message 🙂 Yes you are right. A glimmer for hope. Do let me know if you get a call.

  38. Avatar

    Hello Talha,

    Do I need to take my research proposal along for my Fulbright PhD interview or will there be generic questions like the ones mentioned above?

    • Avatar

      Hello – nope it is not needed. Generic questions mostly. A few specific/technical ones as well.

  39. Avatar

    Hello Talha. I am fron Nigeria. I received an email from Fulbright inviting me for a phone interview in two days time. What should I expect and what stage of selection is this?

    • Avatar

      Hello – well expect 2 parts to the interview. First part will be mostly general questions like the ones in the post above. Next, they will ask you about your specific field and why you want to pursue it and what are you going to do with this degree once you come back. Willingness to make a major impact upon return is crucial to getting the FB.

      • Avatar

        Hello Talha. First of all, thanks for your incredible website.
        A friend of mine had once applied for DV US lottery visa in 2014. Now she wants to apply for Fulbright program in 2020. Does it adversely affect her Fulbright application?

        • Avatar

          Hey – Nope not at all. She should feel confident.

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