Frequently Asked Questions for Finalists
Before Your Interview
Generally, no. The only exception is if you must miss your interview due to a documented medical emergency or weather conditions. If such a situation arises, please contact your Advisor and ask them to contact the Foundation.
Your interview time will be assigned by the Truman Foundation staff. If you have particular time constraints due to your travel arrangements or other issues, please speak with your Advisor. They can make a request to the Foundation. We will honor the request if possible.
Please consult with your Advisor. Your Advisor will reach out to Tara Yglesias to discuss.
Generally, no. You must be interviewed in person with other Finalists from your home state. However, the Foundation may make the decision to conduct virtual interviews for everyone or for specific regions if conditions warrant.
Unfortunately, we are not generally able to provide assistance to Finalists who must travel for their interviews. Please speak with your Advisor regarding assistance that your school might provide. If your school is not willing to provide assistance, your Advisor will receive instructions on how to proceed.
Foundation staff may not be familiar with the interview locations. You will be contacted by a member of the Truman Scholars Association regarding dinner the evening before. These Scholars are local and an excellent source of information.
No, but it is recommended. The Truman Scholars Association plans dinners the evening before each interview to allow you to meet area Truman Scholars and get to know other Finalists. The events are low-key and a wonderful way to relax before your interview. Panelists do not attend. The Truman Scholars Association generally covers the cost of meals. Information will be sent to you directly from your Truman Scholar host in advance of the interviews.
Preparing for Your Interview
No amount of preparation can guarantee your selection as a Truman Scholar. There will be other good candidates with different experiences and interests. You should strive to present yourself as well as you can and enjoy the day as much as possible. In advance you should:
- Keep up with current events, particularly as they relate to your topic of interest;
- Have a few 20 minute practice interviews in which you can work on responding precisely and concisely to a wide variety of questions;
- Think of 2 or 3 things about yourself and your record that you want to be sure the panel remembers;
- Look forward to meeting other Finalists. Spending the day talking with them casually, rather than comparing resumes, will help you to be more relaxed during your interview.
The Foundation provides basic information about the panelists in the listing for the Regional Review Panels. You are not expected to know additional information. The interview is about you, not the panelists.
Our Scholars are usually thrilled to help applicants! This process is also a good way to reach out to Scholars and Finalists who share your interests. However, be aware that no one really knows why they were selected as a Scholar, so be wary of anyone giving overly proscriptive advice. What works for one person might not work for another - and you should never follow any advice that makes you feel inauthentic.
As many as you need to feel comfortable but not so many that you feel rehearsed. That number will vary from person to person. If you feel as if your answers are starting to sound insincere or canned - stop having practice interviews! You can also prepare for your interview by just chatting about issues that are important to you or conducting informational interviews with people in your field. You may be in a situation where you have a number of well-meaning people offering to help you do mock interviews - it is okay to ask if the person is willing to just chat with you about your materials or just engage in a normal conversation.
To prepare, you should be familiar with the main accomplishments and issues of the Truman presidency. You should also be familiar with President Truman's stance on the issues you discuss in your application.
Although we don't have particular requirements, most candidates wear a suit or other formal business attire. The temperature in the rooms is often unpredictable, so you may want to bring a sweater or wear layers. In some locations, there isn't table between you and the interviewers. Please consider this when choosing your outfit. You may also wish to practice sitting in whatever you decide to wear. Regardless, you should select something that makes you feel confident and won't be distracting.
You must bring ID to gain entry to many of the interview locations. The panelists will have your application materials and they will not consider additional items. Some interview locations will require you to surrender camera phones when you enter the building and others may not allow you to bring liquids. If you need specific guidance, you may call the interview locations. Many candidates bring reading material, cards, or other items to occupy their time during the day.
You will spend the day with the other Finalists from your region. Many of you share similar concerns and interests and the day is often surprisingly enjoyable. There will be a short reception in the morning where you meet the other Finalists and the panelists. There will be light breakfast items, please plan accordingly. Interviews will begin shortly after the reception. Each candidate will have a 20 minute interview. There is an hour long break for lunch. Finalists are generally responsible for their own lunch; there will be people at the interview locations who can make suggestions. The interviews will end in the early afternoon. Some applicants may be called back for a brief second interview. Any details that are specific to your interview location will be provided via email in advance.
A panelist will be assigned to bring you into the room. When you arrive, please have a seat. There is no need to shake hands with the panelists or reintroduce yourself. The questions will begin immediately. A panelist will announce when you have a minute left and give you the opportunity to give a closing statement. Many candidates use the closing statement to mention something about their experience or personality that has not been discussed; others simply thank the panel. After your interview, you may leave the room and join the other panelists.
Please arrive to the virtual meeting room 10 to 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. A panelist will bring you into the room at the designated time. Once you are in the room, we will confirm that the panelists can see and hear you. The questions will begin immediately after. A panelist will announce when your interview is completed and give you the opportunity to give a closing statement. Many candidates use the closing statement to mention something about their experience or personality that has not been discussed; others simply thank the panel. After your interview, you will be removed from the room. This abrupt ending will feel awkward, but unfortunately that is the nature of virtual interviews.
Very rarely, some candidates may be called back at the end of the day for brief second interviews. These interviews are usually called to clarify something from the interview or because a question was missed during the first interview. The second interview is extremely rare and not something that you should worry about. If your interview was virtual, you will be contacted within 5 hours of your interview via email if a second interview is required.
Probably not. It is difficult to tell how panelists feel about your interview performance. The panelist you found most difficult may turn out to be your staunchest advocate. After the interview, focus on what went well and was enjoyable rather than over-analyzing small interactions.
The most common mistakes are:
- Failing to answer the question that was asked;
- Not being succinct in the responses and taking too long to answer the question;
- Trying to guess what the panel wants to hear rather than providing an honest answer; and,
- Being either too staid or too nervous and not permitting the panel to see the personality behind the accomplishments.
If you are the sort of person comforted by more information on a process like this one, you can find a long, tedious article about Truman interviews. This article was written for a faculty audience but might still be helpful to candidates. https://www.truman.gov/interview-advice
We send letters to the permanent address listed in your file and inform your institution. We will follow up with an email to you as well. Scholars will also be posted on the website. Please consult our list of important dates for more details.
No. The decisions of the panel are final.
No. The Foundation does not provide feedback on Finalist interviews.
Please speak with your Advisor. If you are an Advisor with a question, please contact Tara Yglesias.