The selection and interview processes

This site includes some general information about selection and interview processes for the following Fulbright Finland Foundation grant programs, and some suggestions on how to prepare for the interview.
  • ASLA-Fulbright Pre-Doctoral Research Fellows Program
  • ASLA-Fulbright Research Grant for a Junior Scholar
  • ASLA-Fulbright Research Grant for a Senior Scholar
  • Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program (Fulbright DAI)
  • Fulbright Finland Language and Culture Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA)
  • Fulbright Finland Travel Grants for Institutional Partnership Building
  • Fulbright Finland Travel Grants for Research Collaboration
  • Fulbright Finland Undergraduate Grant (UG)
  • Fulbright-Technology Industries of Finland Grant (postdocs)
  • Mid-Career Professional Development program (MCPD)
  • Study of the U.S. Institutes for European Student Leaders (SUSI)
  • Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars (SUSI)
  • Study of the U.S. Institutes for Secondary Educators (SUSI)

The purpose of the Fulbright Finland Foundation scholarship programs

  • to support and increase Finnish-American academic and research collaboration
  • to promote internationalization of Finnish universities and other educational institutions
  • to develop knowledge and professional talent exchange between Finland and the United States

The Fulbright Finland Foundation grant programs aim to increase mutual understanding between the people of Finland and the U.S. through academic and cultural exchange and by promoting international cooperation the fields of education and culture.

This is not just a grant. In addition to the scholarship, grantees are offered a substantial package of additional services and benefits, including personal advising services and training sessions before departure, as well as access to seminars and events organized by the program partners in the United States, and the Fulbright Finland Foundation in Finland.

Selected grantees act as ambassadors for the Fulbright Finland Foundation, Finland and their home institution while in the United States. See more information about the history of the program from the Fulbright Finland Foundation’s website.

What happens to the application when it arrives to the Fulbright Finland Foundation and when the application period ends?

The application requirements and deadlines are definite.
  • The evaluation of the applications begins with a technical check-up. In this way we make sure that the applicant fulfils the minimum requirements stated in the application instructions and that they have delivered all the required documents. Only applications which have arrived by the deadline and which include all the required documents are taken into account in the selection process.
  • Quality of the application is assessed by the pre-selection committee and in certain programs, also by expert evaluators and/or the applicant’s home university, who then give their statement of the application. The pre-selection committee of the Fulbright Finland Foundation consists of the board members of the Fulbright Finland Foundation, Fulbright Finland alumni and collaborators.
  • Based on the pre-selection committee assessment (and home university’s statements if applicable), a number of candidates are invited for personal interviews in Helsinki.
  • The Fulbright Finland Foundation Board makes the selection decisions based on applications, references, expert evaluations, selection committee recommendations, and interviews.  
  • In certain programs (FDAI, SUSI), program partner in the U.S. reviews and selects candidates recommended from Finland.  
  • On behalf of the United States the selections are confirmed by J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in all programs, except for SUSI, Undergraduate, and Travel Grant programs.
  • All applicants will be notified of the selection results.

When evaluating and making the pre-selection, the committee focuses on the following criteria:

  • Reasoning for completing studies, research, program or project in the U.S.
  • Significance of the project/program in developing the knowledge of the field
  • Academic and/or professional qualifications and competence
  • The originality and innovativeness of the application
  • Clarity and viability of the application
  • Significance of the project/program in achieving the goals of the Fulbright Finland program
  • Personal attributes evaluated in the interview specifically: the applicant’s ability to adjust and their suitability to act as an ambassador of the Fulbright Finland Foundation, Finland, and their home institution in the U.S.
  • Ability to advance and develop education in Finland related to United States history, society, language, culture and/or geography (SUSI Secondary School Educators and Scholars –programs).
  • Applicant’s initiative and leadership skills demonstrated through studies, work, hobbies, voluntary work or other extra-curricular activities. (SUSI Student Leaders)
  • Applicants with zero or little experience in the United States may be prioritized (Fulbright Finland Undergraduate Grant, FDAI, SUSI)

What happens during the interview?

A number of the applicants are invited to a discussion-style face-to-face interview, held at the Fulbright Finland Foundation in Helsinki. Candidates should reserve about 20-30 minutes for the interview depending on the program. The interview committee usually consists of 3-5 Finnish and/or American members and the interview language is English.

The suitability to be an ambassador for Finland and the Fulbright program is found out with the help of interviews

After the initial selection stage, where applicants’ academic achievements are the main focus, the interview, in turn, will aim at finding out whether an applicant is suitable for an academic cultural exchange program where the grantee is expected to be interested in being an ambassador for Finland and the Fulbright Finland program in the U.S. Because of this we are looking for applicants who have the ability to create networks and connections between Finland and the U.S. The interview committee also evaluates the applicants’ abilities to facilitate future change, to promote the development of science, arts, or their own professional field, and to create opportunities for international collaboration and connections. These types of qualities are difficult to evaluate based on an application, which is why the interviews have an important role in the selection process.

Because the grant selections of the Fulbright Finland Foundation’s programs are not solely based on academic achievements, in some cases the selection committee has had to reject an applicant who, based on their application, has seemed to be excellent but has not fulfilled the criteria in terms of personal attributes required from a person representing the Fulbright Finland program.

The style of the interview is conversational and there is an opportunity to ask questions. The interview committee wants to get to know the applicant and learn more about their project/study/research plans. There are no right or wrong answers to many of the interview questions. The point is to hear the thoughts of the applicant.

The interview committee wants to hear how the applicant communicates about their work and project plans, as well as of the general goals of the period in the United States, to people with different background. Please note that the scientific evaluation of your application has been done by experts in your field before the interview. You should also take into consideration that some of the interview committee members have not on purpose read your project plan/application, and will assess during the interview how well you share information about your area of expertise and goals to an educated audience who do not represent your chosen field or know your background.

How to prepare for the interview?

Be prepared to tell concisely about your plans and objectives for the visit in the U.S.
  • Short introduction of yourself and your project/objectives (elevator pitch)
  • Why are you applying for this grant program?
  • Why did you choose this host institution? (if applicable)
  • Be prepared to tell about your previous studies and possible specialization to S2/Finnish as a second language teaching (FLTA)
  • Why do you want to pursue your project/this program specifically in the United States?
  • How would your project/studies/research and participation in the Fulbright Finland program develop your field in Finland?
  • What knowledge and skills can you bring back to your home institution/organization and to your field at large after returning to Finland?
  • How are you going to utilize the knowledge gained in the U.S. after returning to Finland?
  • What channels and networks can you utilize in sharing new knowledge after returning to Finland?
  • How have you assessed the costs of your project/studies in the U.S. and what plans do you have to finance them? (MCPD, Scholars, Undergraduate)
  • How do you see your role in your field in the future?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

The vision of the Fulbright Finland Foundation is “to empower the minds that will find global solutions to tomorrow’s challenges by fostering academic and professional expertise and excellence in leadership “. The mission of the Foundation is “to promote wider exchange of knowledge and professional talents between Finland and the United States”. In other words, the Fulbright Finland Foundation is looking for applicants who have the will to impact and facilitate change, and who want to develop and improve their own professional or scientific field and cause wide-ranging impact. So consider also the following questions:

  • What do you know about the Fulbright Finland program?
  • What do you have to give to the Fulbright Finland program and its goals?
  • How would you promote the exchange of knowledge and skills between Finland and the U.S. as a Fulbright grantee?
  • What kind of change maker do you consider yourself now and in the future?
  • How would you serve as an ambassador for the Fulbright Finland Foundation and Finland?

In the interview, also your English skills will be evaluated. The grantees do not have to have perfect language skills. However, they will have to have adequate language and communication skills which guarantee that they can manage in the American everyday life, in university settings, and to do their studies/research, as well as function as an ambassador of Finland and the Fulbright program in the U.S.