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Fellowship Interview Question

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I am currently in the process of applying to post grad fellowship programs. I was recently contacted to complete a short "screening interview" with what appears to be someone not on the actual admissions committee. I believe this person I am interviewing with is similar to someone from the "HR" who does the screening interview before actually interviewing with the employer. So, my question for anyone who has experienced a screening interview for a post-grad fellowship program  is: what type of questions do these screening interviewers usually ask? what is the overall goal of this short interview? If I blow up this screening interview, do I pretty much ruin my chance of getting in? Any input is appreciated. Thank you!


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Never done one for a fellowship, but have done them as part of the application/interview process. I believe the two are comparable, as fellowship is basically employment. The goal is to get a basic understanding of who you are (experience, values, goals, etc), why you are interested in EM, why you are interested in a fellowship (and specifically THEIR fellowship),  etc. Expect the cliche "tell me about yourself" prompt/question. Fellowships are not big programs. I'd guess that they receive fewer than 50 applications per cohort, eliminate several candidates just based on application materials received, and interview an even fewer number of people. So I would not be surprised in your "screening" interview is actually someone directly affiliated with the fellowship program and not HR (possibly one of the APP program directors). If the screening interview goes well then you would likely be invited for a more formal interview with several of the faculty/members of the fellowship. So I would prepare for this as if it were any other interview. To make a long reply longer, I would say that unless you pack exceptional experience your chances of progressing through the selection process would take quite a hit if this initial interview does not go well. Even if it is just with a member of HR, they record your responses and forward them to the actual decision-makers for review (HR doesn't pick candidates, they just facilitate the process). 


I'll add that if this is a video interview treat it as an in person one! Wear a suit, do not have a distracting background, and make sure your internet connection is good.

Edited by dphy83
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