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Serving on Fellowship Committees

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The Value of the Application and Interviewing Process

Fellowships support opportunities that have the potential to be formative experiences for students. Past awardees have reported that their summer, term-time, and postgraduate activities helped them to:

  • Refine their academic interests
  • Clarify their career goals
  • Develop their ability to think critically and overcome challenges.

Your service on a campus fellowship committee ensures that the students best prepared to make the most of fellowship opportunities are given the chance to do so and that all students gain the valuable educational experience of going through the application and interviewing process.

The Purpose of Committees

Fellowship committees may be asked to:

  • Select fellowship awardees from an applicant pool
  • Select Yale nominees for a national competition (Fulbright, Goldwater, Marshall, Rhodes etc) from an applicant pool or shortlist

How Competitions and Committees Work

The fellowship competition process depends on the nature of the fellowship and the size of the applicant pool. 

Each fellowship committee operates differently to accommodate the variance in application numbers, deadlines, goals, and other factors.

Note: The Fellowships and Funding Office will provide committee members with guidelines for evaluating applications and information about each fellowship's process, including what is expected of the Committee Chair.

Interviewing Candidates

Fellowship Committees often interview applicants. These interviews:

  • Help the Committee in the selection process
  • Encourage applicants to refine their ideas, consider questions they have not yet explored, and practice valuable interview skills.

Different fellowships, especially those external to Yale, may adopt different interviewing styles. Committee members will be briefed on the specifics at the beginning of the committee meeting.

For the Yale process, committee members are encouraged to focus on behavioural interview questions.

While we recognize that committee interviews are not the same as job interviews, committee members are asked to review lines of questioning which are appropriate/inappropriate in job interviewing and apply those same principles to fellowship interviewing.

We recommend that you avoid asking applicants about any personal characteristics that are protected by law, such as race, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, national origin, or age, unless the applicant elects to bring up the topic.

Selecting Winners

Not all applicants will be nominated or win a fellowship. At a university like Yale, it can be challenging to choose just one or two top students from the many well-qualified and enthusiastic applicants. Keep in mind that the Committee's ultimate task is an overwhelmingly positive one. Furthermore, the process of applying and interviewing for fellowship opportunities is helpful practice for a student with many more years of applications and interviews ahead.

We thank you for your time and contributions to this part of education at Yale.