Interview: Tips

Fulbright Workshop:
Preparing your candidature
Presented by the Commission for Educational Exchange
Between the United States and Belgium
Email Phone
Application Materials
• Online application form
• “Americanized” Resume/CV
• Transcripts and diploma from your most recent
• 2 Essays*
• 3 Recommendation Letters
• Invitation letter
• Optional materials: Writing sample (doctoral
students only), test scores, admission letter
• US Plans – degree, field of study,
dates, schools
• Nationality
• Degrees and grades
• Previous US experience and visas
Online Application
• Objective:
– Students: Master’s, Ph.D., Visiting Student Researcher
– Scholars: Research, Lecture, Research/Lecture
• If you indicate test scores/admission/invitation,
upload proof
• Indicate other sources of funds
Resume Tips
• Your resume must be brief
• Personal contact information at the top – omit pictures,
nationality, gender, marital status, etc.
• Proofread: take care with the presentation, design, spaces,
and spelling of your resume. Don't use abbreviations.
• Be organized: your resume should be a quick & easy read
• Emphasize sections and things that are important with
underlines or bold type.
• Organize in reverse chronological order
Resume Tips
• Write your resume in third person of the singular form.
• Use action verbs
• Emphasize your skills and achievements without lying.
• Adapt your resume for our scholarships.
Items to Include
• Education starting with the last school attended or graduated.
Include name of institution, location, degree earned, dates
attended, area of study as well as grade point average if it is high.
Include thesis title if applicable.
• Work experience in chronological order including job title, company
name and location, achievements (not duties), and dates of
• Publications
• Scholarships including the date and funding body.
• Affiliations: extracurricular, volunteer work, community
involvement and professional activities.
• Skills: languages, computer skills, industry specific knowledge
• Only include interests that can be points of conversation
Transcripts & Diploma
• English, French, or Dutch
• Upload as a single PDF
Graduate Awards Essays
• There are two essays for graduate studies
– Study/Research Objectives Essay: “a clear and
detailed description of your study/research
– Personal Statement Essay: “a narrative statement
describing how you achieved your current goals…”
Study/Research Objectives
• Objectives and your reason for pursuing them
• Be: clear, detailed, and specific
– Why there?
– Why now?
• Paint a picture of how it fits your past and future
• Describe the program you want to undertake
• 500-700 words (2 pages)
Personal Statement Essay
• This essay describes yourself and
educational/professional development. It includes:
– Relevant educational, practical, and career experiences
– Special interests and career plans; ‘What would you do in
the U.S.?’ ‘What would you do upon your return to
• Don’t list facts or be repetitive; describe how and why
your development happened
• 500-700 words (2 pages)
How do I write one?
• Start early
• Create your CV
• Brainstorm examples of how you have demonstrated your
interest/expertise in the field
• Think about how graduate school fits into your future plans
• Research program websites, talk to program alumni
• Allow ample time to draft and edit your document and have
at least one person edit your document for grammar and style
– Four or five drafts are normal
Items to Discuss
– Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken,
or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
– Discuss some issue of personal, local,
national, or international concern
and its importance to you.
– Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and
describe that influence.
– Please tell us your goals for graduate study in X field and for your
career. Why is X the right place to pursue your academic objectives
and to prepare you to meet your professional goals? Why have you
selected the degree program to which you are applying?
Items to Discuss
– A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life
experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your
personal background, describe an experience that illustrates
what you would bring to the diversity in a college community,
or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of
diversity to you.
– Topic of your choice
Example Answer
• When I was 17 years old, my father took me to a Belgian
brewery for the first time.
• Since then, I’ve been conducting my own brewing
experiments and selling the products to local shops
• I have the passion for brewing, but I want to understand the
mechanics and learn how to scale the demand for my
• XYZ school’s dual MS/MBA program will enable me…
• As a result, I will be able to spread my good beer
throughout Belgium and hopefully introduce others to the
joy of locally made beer the way my father introduced me.
• Keep in mind the purpose of the statements – do
not include extraneous material
• Tell a story/find an angle
• Draw conclusions about the value of your
experiences – do not recount activities
• Use examples, especially ‘the number of years’
whenever possible
• Concentrate on your opening paragraph
• Mention grades, testing scores or specific US universities you are
interested in
• Repeat or contradict information given elsewhere
• Get too emotional, broad or technical. Avoid clichés.
• Use contractions/be too casual
• Focus on the adversity. Instead, focus on your reaction to it.
• Controversy: your admissions officer might have an opposite
• Tell the reader what is important in your field
Video tips
• This video was prepared by the U.S. Embassy
in Kabul on how to write a great application
essay (9 minutes):
• Belgian grantee:
Peer Exercise
• Cross out anything that
– Is irrelevant to the main points of the essay
– Repeats what has already been said
• Underline sentences that are solely descriptive
• Box words that should be replaced with the help
of a thesaurus, if necessary
• Place brackets around sections that require
• Draw stars next to any parts that are great!
Questions to Answer
• Did the opening paragraph make you want to
keep reading, or no?
• Do you understand this person’s motivation
for graduate school, and how it fits in to their
life story?
• Were there enough examples, or was it too
Scholar Essays
• Compelling, theoretically sound, well-written, feasible
• Proposed project, as well as the strategy for
completing it, should be thoroughly explained in three
to five single-sided pages. (3,500 words)
• Including irrelevant or extraneous material may divert
attention from the project statement.
• Begin the project statement with your name, country
and the project title at the top of page one. At the top
of each subsequent page, type your name and country.
• Be practical
– Think of the details: who will you work with? Where? How
often? What other sources of support will you have?
– Don’t bury yourself in work
• Focus on relational outcomes more than paper ones
• Use additional one to three pages of references
relevant to the proposed research
• Funding sources is only additional documentation
Project content
Specific dates
Resources available
Contact information
Recommendation Letters
Who can
write them?
• Professors, administrators, or employers
• Choose someone who knows you well,
inside and outside of the classroom
What should
they include?
• Length and capacity of relationship
• Quality and examples of your academic
and/or professional work
• Comparison to others, when appropriate
• Potential to do well in program
Recommendation Letters
• Develop strong relationships with academic and
professional colleagues
• Ask for letter of recommendation early and inperson
• Talk about your motivation for applying
• Provide them with resources like your CV to help
them know what elements to include
• Follow up to make sure the letter is sent!
• Mid-December or mid-March
• Royal Library in Brussels, next to Central
• 15-minutes long
• Panel of 4-5: Commission staff, government
officials, academics, alumni
• Only for top-ranked candidates
Interviews: Tips
• What should you prepare?
– Motivations for going to the U.S.: ‘What will you
do in addition to your studies/teaching?’; ‘What
activities would you like to pursue?’
– Specific personal, academic, cultural plans
– How will you give back?
Interviews: Tips
• Don’t list languages or qualifications you don’t
• Be simple and be clear
• Have confidence – will you succeed in
• Don’t be nervous!
• Don’t try to immigrate
Interview: Tips
• A successful candidate strongly demonstrates:
– English proficiency
– Ambassadorial qualities and interest in Fulbright
alumni association
– Ability to explain cultural differences and academic
goals/experiences clearly
• Video of a past grantee (tips):
Royal Library Albert I, 3rd Floor
Boulevard de L’Empereur, 4, Keizerslaan
B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 519.57.72
[email protected]