Quick Guide: Preparing for a Bursary Interview

Bursaries are an excellent opportunity for students to finance their studies. Although they are competitive and applications do not guarantee an interview, there are still many steps applicants can take to ensure they plan ahead and prepare for a potential interview.

To set the ball rolling, to apply for a specific bursary program, applicants are advised to always do research into the bursary programme they are applying for. They should understand the requirements for the bursary programme and keep a copy of everything they submit as a reference.

Application questions for bursary programmes give candidates a great understanding of what they potentially could be asked on the day as well as allow them to review any answers they may need to give the provider in the interview.

Furthermore, applicants are advised to do research about the bursary provider. The applicant can do this by visiting the providers’ website and reading their ‘About Us’ section. This will allow the applicant to gain a key understanding of the providers’ priorities, goals, mission, vision, as well as what they are looking for in a successful candidate.

Below are some of the most common questions that are asked in a bursary interview. The applicant can use these questions to prepare for their interview so that their answers are ones that best describe them and show their strongest attributes. The applicant should consider factors such as what the adequate response will be to answer a question in depth. Applicants should ensure that their answers are not vague, and should give responses that are solid and confident.

Although preparation is a necessity, the applicant should also ensure that their answers are not too robotic or rehearsed. An interview is not only an opportunity to showcase your skills and professionalism, but also show your spontaneity and natural responses to questions. The applicant can achieve the ‘sweet spot’ between rehearsing and spontaneousness by practising with a friend.

The applicant should also prepare and get an understanding of questions they may want to ask the provider – this will allow the applicant to get a better understanding of the programme, as well as gain some additional information.


  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What personal achievement makes you the proudest?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What kind of activities do you partake in and enjoy?
  • How would others (friends, teachers, etc.) describe you?
  • Why did you choose your particular course?
  • Why do you want to study at your selected institution?
  • What is a mistake you have made, how did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?
  • What are your life goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in the future (5 to 10 years from now)?
  • How do you plan to make use of the bursary award?
  • Why do you deserve to be selected for the bursary?
  • What can you do for our organisation (what contribution can you make)?


  • What does your organisation aim to achieve by offering this bursary?
  • What are some additional programmes that your organisation support to reach its goals?
  • How can I get involved in these additional programmes?
  • What are the characteristics you are looking for in the perfect candidate?
  • Does the bursary provide any other academic resources?
  • Does your organisation sponsor programmes that allow applicants to connect with alumni or offer potential job placements?
  • Does the organisation provide resources or opportunities once the applicant has graduated?

Ensure that you do the research on the organisation or institution before the interview as some of these answers could be available on their company website


  • Be punctual
  • Give a firm hand-shake and smile
  • Keep calm
  • Be yourself (be honest)
  • Maintain eye contact at all times
  • Breathe and allow yourself time to speak
  • Avoid words such as “like” and “um”
  • Listen and think before your speak
  • Be clear and concise with your responses
  • Stay on topic (avoid rambling)
  • Enunciate your words clearly (avoid mumbling)
  • Act in conduct as if you ARE the candidate they are looking for
  • End the meeting on a high
  • Shake hands with everyone, look them in the eye, and thank them
  • Let them know that you are available for a follow-up interview and questions
  • Be proud of yourself and your hard work