Greetings from Cardiff.
After an eventful week in Kenya, I am back to my base. It was such a beautiful time being home, catching up with my family members, relatives and friends. After six months in Cardiff, I now appreciate our tropical weather, a blend of sunshine and with very little surprises. Before it rains, the weather sends signals that range from dark, gloomy clouds and a few drizzles. In Cardiff, it rains when it feels like. Weather makes for every conversation starter even with strangers. Well, go East, go West, Home is best. I love Kenya and I enjoy the warmth of my people. Earlier in the year, while attending the UK-Africa Investment Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta was asked a question about Kenya, and his response was apt ‘When you think about Kenya, think about the people of Kenya. We are hospitable, we are friendly, we are caring. There are many good aspects about Kenya, but the people of Kenya top the list. We make a difference wherever we are.’
It’s therefore not in doubt that I am looking forward to finalizing my education in September so that I can catch my flight back home, to contribute to nation building in my country, Kenya.
Following my last blog post where I posted a few tips on how to ace that interview as a Chevening Scholar, I have had a lot of follow up questions and requests to clarify one or two issues. I therefore, think it’s important that I use this opportunity to add a few more tips then next week, we can talk about some of things you need to do while you wait for your interview outcome.
Below are some of the tips I shared with you.
- Practice, practice and practice some more.
- Project yourself as the most qualified/ideal candidate.
- Read and understand everything about Chevening Scholarship- Research.
- Prepare for common interview questions.
- Dress the part, be the part.
- Be yourself. Believe in yourself. Do your best and your best is enough.
In addition to the above, the following tips will be helpful.
- Be sure to articulate your career plan.
Chevening is interested in your career plan. The clarity in articulating your career path in short-term, mid-term and long-term basis will differentiate you from those candidates who haven’t done their homework yet. Do you have a clear plan that shows that you will return to your home country after your studies? Use this opportunity to showcase your achievements, your talents, your strongholds
- Be yourself, Be real, Be authentic.
While this might sound so easy a tip, you need to master the art of being yourself. Owning your story and being authentic at it. Answer questions with confidence. Have an example for each answer. While you may have read a lot from ‘common interview questions and the possible answers, tailor your responses to fit your situation. You might be required to demonstrate your leadership and networking skills. Own your examples. It is ok to be and to feel nervous, however don’t let this feeling distract you. Arrive on time and beat anxiety. At the British High Commission, there are various security checks so factor those in and arrive early. A few days before the interview, you might want to go and familiarise yourself with the Embassy’s location. There is nothing as confusing while running late.
- Research about your host Country. (The United Kingdom)
Anticipate a question as to why you chose to study in the UK. The interviewees are looking to gauge your interest in the UK. So whatever works for you, please do remember to give practical answers and use examples to back up your interests. Be realistic in your answers. Keep it short and simple. Do not over promise. If in doubt, just remember that the Chevening Scholarship is more than just a degree in the UK.
- Attend the interview in person.
I know the temptation of making excuses such as ‘I will be away during the only available slot’ and I am wondering if they could interview me through a video call or Skype. Keep in mind Murphy’s law “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong…. that could be the one day that internet fails you! You do not want to jeopardise your only chance of your getting this Scholarship. If you will be away, please make plans to come back home. Fundraise to pay for that ticket, take a loan if you must. Cancel any other appointment. I have sat in interviews before, any candidate who brings up excuses, is always eligible for elimination. The point is, make sure that you run away from all or any potential reasons that might stand in your way.
- First Impressions Matter, Stand Out.
We spoke about dressing and being the part in my previous blog post. Your number one attire is your confidence. By being confident, you have won the interview, at least ¼ way. Figure out ways that will make you stand out. Why should they look at you and say ‘Wow, is this the one?’ Ensure that your dressing is on point, not too colourful but a dress code that matches your status as a potential leader and a Chevening Scholar.
- Invest your time for a mock interview.
This you must do. Get your friends to carry out mock interview for you. Get someone who is an expert in your chosen field. This is a great chance to prepare yourself for the actual interview. Mock interview helps you reduce stress and nervousness. It helps boost your confidence and gauge your body language. Mock interview helps you get a chance to gather constructive feedback from the panellists. My housemates and I are currently setting up a timetable for mock interviews with interested candidates. Feel free to respond to my blog post and book your appointment. We will do our best.
I hope that with these additional tips, you now feel more confident and prepared. I take this opportunity to wish you all the best. Go ace it. While at it, remember that ‘successful people look like you and me.’