Chevening interviews have started in various countries and I believe all potential Cheveners have secured interview slots which will run all the way to April 2020. On behalf of my housemates, I take this opportunity to wish you all the best as you prepare.
Following my last week’s blog post, our weekend has truly been eventful. I made it public that my housemates and I had plans to conduct mock interviews for Chevening applicants. Little did I know, I bit more than I could chew. I truly didn’t expect the kind of feedback I received. By the end of the week, we were already feeling overwhelmed due to the real task that awaited us. By Friday, we had received 28 requests from scholars mainly from East Africa who wanted a session with us.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to strategize on a winning formula. Ronald was kind enough to create a timetable that included names of candidates interested in mock interviews, the countries they represented, the courses they hoped to pursue in the UK and the scheduled dates for their real interviews. This planning was important to enable us to plan our time accordingly, keeping in mind that we are already halfway into our second semester, we have reading to do as well as assignments to complete.
Once we had a timetable with all the details of all the candidates, we then started reaching out to them and informing them of the possible dates while checking on their availability bearing in mind the existing time differences. For those who confirmed availability, we then asked them to share with us their essays so that we could familiarise ourselves with what they wrote prior to the scheduled mock interviews.
We also discussed about the kind of questions to ask. We decided to limit them under leadership, networking, studying in the UK, courses and their choice of universities as per Chevening requirement. Another key question we asked was about what makes the candidates think they are most outstanding and why Chevening should consider them for the Scholarship and not someone else. This question is key because it gives candidates a chance to profile themselves knowing very well that they are now in the final stage of the Scholarship process that would later determine their fate. Just like the actual Chevening interview is scheduled for thirty minutes, we agreed to keep our mock interviews to thirty minutes. We therefore, divided our thirty minutes as follows;
2 mins for introduction from our end, 18 minutes for 6 questions, 10 minutes for any questions from the candidates and feedback from the interviewers.
We figured out Skype would offer us better connectivity. We then reached out to the candidates and asked them to share with us their Skype address. Ronald then tested the connection to confirm that it was working on both ends. At exactly 3pm on Saturday, with our glasses of water, a flask of tea and our notebooks, we made a call to the first candidate.
So far we have managed to do eight interviews and we hope by the end of the week, we would have managed at least 20 interviews. I would like to make a disclaimer. It’s unfortunate we might not be able to interview more than 30 candidates. We are therefore, encouraging potential students to look out for people whom they can trust to carry out a mock interview for them. It will come in handy. Please do it before you step into the real interview room.
After the interviews, my housemates had the following to say.
Ronald Okello- I must commend all the candidates who have entrusted us to do the mock interviews for them. I believe we have been very professional and that the candidates are getting a first-hand experience of what to expect in the real interview. We are a neutral party but very genuinely vested in their success. We are not Chevening experts, what we are doing is just to give feedback on areas of improvement. I wish all the candidates the very best.
Dr. Pamela- The mock interviews are an excellent opportunity to give back to the Chevening community. We appreciate that the candidates have put their trust in us. Using our experience we hope to help candidates identify their strengths and to clarify their voice. It almost sounds and feels like the real interview. We succeed because of those who went before us and held our hands, we thus hope we are holding others. It is a tough commitment on our end, but it is worth our time.
Sidney- It has been quite interesting being on the other end of that table during these mock interviews. I thought being interviewed was hard…but interviewing is even harder! One thing is for sure, Chevening is about to have a hard time because I have seen and listened to many great candidates and I can only imagine the hustle of having to choose between them. After all is said and done, I can summarise the difference between a good and better candidate into one word: Passion. Passion just brings out a different meaning in even the simplest of words. Passion is what takes you to the extra mile. Ultimately, candidates who are passionate about what they do are more convincing but even more important, believable. The interesting thing about passion is, you can’t fake it.
I couldn’t agree more. Passion is the driving force. Passion is what makes you do stuff when everyone else is watching and asking ‘But how do you get the energy and time to do all the things that you do? How many hours are there in your day?’ 24 hours darling, just like yours. Find your passion. Live it, speak it, dream it and live life like there’s no tomorrow.
See you again, next week, Inshallah.