Hays Memorial Scholarship Competition Tips

Below are some helpful tips for an outstanding Hays interview experience from those who have completed it in the past — and those who may be evaluating you during this year's competition.  We hope you'll find this advice useful as you prepare your own presentation.  Good luck! 

1) Be honest and sincere about your opinions/project.   2) Be enthusiastic and passionate about your presentation — this should be natural for you if you are excited about what you're showing!  3) Most importantly, BE PREPARED!  Research and preparation cannot be pretended.  Come prepared to answer whatever questions thrown at you.  4) Be yourself!  That's what we want to see!
Lara Assaf 

Competing students should take time to seriously think about their reading and go beyond a cursory analysis.  They should definitely try to draw a few conclusions from what they have read.  Also, rehearsing what they want to say is important to make sure they don't leave anything out!
Colin Hoy 

1) If you feel strongly about an issue or have a passion for a certain topic, use that for the optional presentation.  Not only does it make for a more interesting presentation, but you will feel so much more confident!  2) There is a time limit; make sure you practice with a timer.  You will walk into your session already knowing what to say and when.  3) If you choose to analyze a passage, read it ahead of time and make careful annotations. (Last year, I encountered several students who hadn't even looked at them before Friday night.  Needless to say, they were extremely stressed on Saturday morning.)
Anna Godwin 

[If choosing to discuss one of the articles] actually read the story all the way through.  Prepare an analysis and be prepared to defend it.  Don't come in and say "what would you like me to talk about?"  Be ready with your own topics and be confident about your answers.
Ronni Laizure 

1) Most importantly, do not get intimidated by the competition and mentally take yourself out of the competition. You shouldn't worry about the overconfident people who boast about their abilities or even the "normal ones" with really cool presentations.  2) The other Hays finalists are awesome people to get to know, as I personally got quite a few study buddies and a few good friends from that group, some of whom Hendrix wouldn't nearly be as fun without.  3) Take full advantage of the faculty conversation you get, as well as talking to people on campus in general.  You don't have to talk solely about the scholarship competition or even the school, but you should get a feel for the people you might be interacting with for the next four years as well as allow people on campus to get to know you.
Lihn Chuong 

1) Don't hesitate.  2) Tap into your passion.  3) Speak with conviction — draw your audience in.
Caelan O’Sullivan 

1) Be yourself.  2) Don't be afraid of a friendly debate.  3) If you're passionate about something, make that obvious.
Brigid Goggin 

I would advise students to be creative in their presentation.  If it does not seem as though the participants have gone the extra mile, really preparing and making their presentation special, they are much less likely to make a great impression on their evaluators (in my case, I made a movie).  This can also lessen some stress caused by public speaking — if the presentation is prepared before the event, one does not have to worry as much about being on the spot.
Gina Balamucki 

Try to just be yourself.  Remember even if there are 100 other students competing, you have just as much to offer as any one of them or else you wouldn't be there.  Also, make sure you know your argument and are prepared to defend it.  Don't be intimidated by the evaluators, they're interested in your opinions.
Josephine Reece 

1) If you do a presentation, pick a topic that you are passionate about. It will definitely motivate you!  2) Practice, practice, practice!  3) Be yourself!
Malena Outhay 

Be overly prepared because silence and a lot of ummms sounds really bad.  You lead the discussion — don't count on those on the other end to do the work.  Show you care about this and that you worked hard to plan/prepare.  Also, if you have done something interesting or impressive, tell us about it!  Near the end of the question portion last year, one of my fellow evaluators asked about one candidate's impressive volunteer activities, and she just responded very casually as if it was nothing.  Afterwards we noted her volunteer background as a huge positive but her lack of enthusiasm or a full explanation was disappointing.
Michaela Fraser 

Relax and enjoy the discussion portion.  If you have a PowerPoint, elaborate on your points instead of just reading them off.
Tom Holt 

1) We are looking for critical thinking and intellectual curiosity.  You do not have to have the answer to everything, just an ability to think rationally and consider new lines of thought.  If you think you have the answer to everything, you are likely on the wrong track.  2) Be able to talk intelligently about major current events.  3) We are also looking for students who will contribute in a meaningful and substantial way to the Hendrix community.  Your passions outside of the classroom are as, if not more, important than your academic credentials.  4) Your interview is on Saturday.  This means the night before your interview is a Friday night on a college campus.  There are lots of entertaining events happening that night, some of which are not conducive to a strong performance in an interview the next day.  Keep this in mind as you decide how to conduct yourself that evening.  My advice as a Hays Scholar: go to bed early, secure this very valuable scholarship now, and celebrate later.
Kelly Zalocusky 

As for tips, I've noticed over the last three years that the biggest mistake students make is letting their nerves get the best of them.  While I understand being nervous and realize the Hays is a competition, students should know that the evaluators want to learn about the student, not grill them.  Second, it's much better to be over prepared than under, especially in the readings.  You are allotted 15 minutes, and you should be able to use the whole time.  Students should not expect the evaluators to lead the discussion of a paper.  One last tip would be to not go over your 15 minutes.  While it may seem trite, going over time even by a minute or so gets evaluators annoyed.
Erica Siebrasse 

If you are giving a presentation, make sure that you're passionate about the topic.  You needn't have extensive experience researching the topic; this is a great opportunity to learn more about something that you've always been curious about.  Also, if the evaluators ask you a question, it's important to actually answer it.  Some of the queries may take you by surprise, but it's perfectly fine to mull over your train of thought out loud.  We want to know that you considered our questions in an intelligent, thoughtful manner.
Gina Gordon 

I think it would be helpful to present the material to friends and family, and have them brainstorm questions or challenges that the evaluators might have.  That way you're more prepared for whatever they might throw at you.  Good preparation will preserve your sanity, and it lets you take time for the optional stuff — campus walks, panels, a Friday night play, etc.  After all, you took the time and money to trek out here; you might as well take full advantage of the visit.  Also, remember to pack nice clothes! (I forgot and had to go shopping the night before.)
Laura Owen 

Don't be so business-like as to make you interviewers uncomfortable. Adopt a formal but approachable demeanor.
Sam Crocker 

1) Engage with fellow candidates.  There are many unique and talented students with some really neat stories; make some time to listen!  2) It sounds like routine advice, but it's IMPORTANT: Get some sleep.  Eat breakfast.  And breathe.  3) Be sincere.  Rehearsed lines won't give a professor or student an accurate idea of who you are.  Besides, it's much more comfortable to be natural rather than contrived.  And don't feel intimidated by the interviewers.  They're not executioners; just some folks who want to learn something about you.  If you feel panicked, it will show.  4) Don't be afraid to smile!  After a long day of interviewing, it's nice to see a cheery face.
Sarah Thompson 

My advice would be to pick a topic that is of genuine interest to you if you do not do one of the readings.  I think that my passion for my topic really helped me relax and do as well as I did.  Also, I think it is important to present yourself well by dressing appropriately and conducting yourself in a respectful way.  Other than that, just relax and have fun!
Clay Christian