NEWS | Preparing for your SMF scholarship interview

Published On: Saturday, 27th Apr 2013


Over 300 engineers have succeeded in winning an SMF scholarship to study for an MBA at a world-class business school. You could be about to join this group of talented individuals who, once qualified, forge outstanding careers in major companies or develop their own thriving enterprises, thus helping our economy.

We asked SMFs and candidates currently studying for their MBA to think back on their application and assessment experience and share their thoughts and tips on making a strong case for a scholarship. Here they tell us what things to consider and how to impress the panel while being true to yourself.

There is bound to be something here to inspire your application, so do dip into to this valuable source of advice throughout your application process – good luck!

Are you really ready?

  • Ensure you have completed your professional engineering registration and are close to reaching Chartered status.
  • Be very clear about why you want to go to business school, and how you see it accelerating your career. Ideally, you should have a 3-year and 10-year plan.

Don’t be shy – sell your capabilities and achievements

  • Make sure your application tells a story about you, about the capabilities you think are important and about the way you have demonstrated them to colleagues. Learn how to tell that story using illustrations of successes and failures in words and for your presentation.
  • When filling in the online form, think about the various skills and qualities you are being asked to demonstrate, and also show how you expect these will be supplemented by your MBA. Don’t limit yourself to your professional experience – extracurricular activity is useful too, particularly if it demonstrates leadership potential.

A winning application form

  • Don’t waste space in your application on unnecessary filler words. Every sentence should, if possible, say something meaningful and interesting about you and demand a follow-up question. Don’t forget, it’s not just work and career that is your ammunition to enrich the picture. Your leadership, communication and innovation skills will be evident in many other areas of your experience.
  • Demonstrate your professional achievements as well as your contribution to the broader society. Include details of extracurricular activities such as charity work, competitions, committee work, training workshops for students and professionals, working for professional institutions and writing research papers. Detail these activities, their impacts and any awards received.

Engage your audience

  • Consider your presentation opportunity very carefully. It’s your unique chance to dictate what the selection panel hear and see. It’s your best opportunity to sell yourself. Think about your preparation as well as technical and commercial content.
  • In your presentation know that your message is not what you did or how you did it but why you did it and how you impacted people around you. A historical or technical review means nothing if you can’t integrate it with what you are trying to say about you. Remember, technology is only a very small component of engineering leadership. People are by far the largest factor.
  • Don’t just present to the panel. Engage them in drawing out the questions you want them to ask. Your Q&A session should never be regarded as a passive exercise.

Winning interview – the devil’s in the detail

  • Your interview will fly by so make the most of it.
  • Be prepared to talk about your achievements when you were 7 years old! You can be asked questions about your very early life and travel experiences – things that may not feature on your CV. Also, be prepared to discuss technical details of your projects as well as your leadership experience.
  • The interview panel is looking for colour around what you’ve put in your application and get an understanding of you and what you’re hoping to get from your MBA.
  • As the panel may be interviewing candidates back-to-back, they may not have remembered all the detail in your application, so it’s up to you to cover all the areas you want to highlight.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your time at the end of the interview to mention one or two aspects of your candidacy if you haven’t been able to discuss them during the main part of the interview.

Let your personality shine

  • Be natural and genuine during the interview. The interviewers are your future SMF colleagues and are looking for individuals that bring richness and diversity to the Fellowship.

Good luck with your panel interview!

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