My (Virtual) Chevening Scholarship Interview – Tips To Help You Prepare
In August 2019, I decided to apply to the Chevening India Scholarship to realize my ambition of studying a postgraduate degree in the United Kingdom. After clearing the initial shortlist from over 60,000 applications worldwide, I had my interview scheduled for March-April 2020. However, this was the same year of COVID-19 which wreaked havoc on the lives of students everywhere. As a consequence of social distancing rules and prioritising the well-being of all stakeholders, the Chevening Secretariat decided to move the interview process online.
Cut to mid-March 2020. I had my Chevening interview last week over Skype. A representative from the British High Commission in my country (India) had contacted me earlier and had informed me that they were shifting interviews online.
Here is a summary of my (virtual) interview experience for the Chevening India Scholarship 2020.
I. Whom to Expect in your Chevening Interview
On the online call, there were 4 people apart from me. One BHC representative, one FCO representative, one Chevening alumni and another Chevening program representative.
II. What to Expect in your Chevening Interview
All the questions focused on the four essays I'd submitted as part of my application - Networking, Leadership, Educational Goals and Career Plans. Some of these questions included -
Can you give a brief introduction about yourself and why you're applying to Chevening?
Can you walk us through a professional experience where you displayed leadership?
How important do you think networking is as part of the Chevening program?
Why have you chosen these courses? Why now? Why the UK?
What are your plans after you finish your higher education?
I used every question as an opportunity to introduce what I'd written in the essays, pick a specific example or experience and walk them through it, highlighting the role I played and why I did what I did. Although I didn't plan for it consciously, my answers allowed me to easily segue into each successive part of the interview (For eg. the leadership question led to networking, which led to studies etc.)
III. How to Prepare for your Chevening Interview
Take the time to have a good virtual interview experience setup in your home. Make sure you choose a quiet, distraction-free corner with strong internet connection.
Connect using a laptop. Mobile view feels chaotic and cluttery.
Be appropriately dressed and groomed. Just because it's a virtual interview doesn't mean those things don't count anymore.
If you're interviewing via Skype or Zoom, make sure you are online 15 mins before your scheduled time and you send them a message / heads-up that you're online and ready to go whenever the panel is ready. I had sent in a connection request to the Skype profile of my Chevening panel in India the night before, so they had no trouble looking up my username.
Be confident and calm. They want you to succeed and will offer you opportunities to highlight your experience. Even if you're nervous, make sure you're able to get through all the points that you've written down in your essay.
In terms of preparation, make sure you're thorough with what you've written in the essays. It's YOUR experience and you must be able to talk about it sufficiently.
At the end, they ask if you have any questions. If you have any honest doubts or clarifications, do ask them. They appreciate you asking.
Hope this short blog clarifies your queries. Good luck!
Media Credits: Chevening India Scholarship Page / Chevening Awards (https://www.chevening.org/scholarship/india/)