Current Chevening Scholar and Social Media Ambassador Hafsat Dauda shares her tips on how to prepare for a Chevening interview.
Defining your career plan ahead of your Chevening interview
Here’s how to communicate a clear career plan in your Chevening interview, with advice from real interviewers.
When interviewing candidates for a Chevening Scholarship, there is no one “type” of person that we’re looking for. Excellence comes in many different packages, and the variety among Chevening Scholars is what makes our network so rewarding to be a part of.
However, all of our successful candidates do express, in their own ways, a few key qualities:
- Leadership and influencing
- Relationship building
- Enthusiasm for studying in the UK
- A strong career plan
In this blog, we’ll focus on communicating a solid career plan to your interview panel. Here are our tips – complete with advice from interviewers.
Reflect on your goals and values
Just as we’re not looking for just one “type” of person, there is no “right” answer when we ask you about your career plan. The best answer will be one that comes from the heart and aligns with your values.
Try to ask yourself some serious questions about what’s important to you in your life and work. This is big picture thinking, and don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are you best at? What skills are you most proud of, and bring you the most satisfaction when you use them?
- What are you passionate about? What change would you like to see in your home country?
- What does career success look like to you? Does it mean running your own company? Working in government? Working for a charity?
At the end of this thought experiment, you should have a good sense of where you would like your career to take you, and how this relates to your individual skills, as well as your broader community.
Create a short-, medium-, and long-term plan
Once you know what your goals are, you can begin building your plan.
Here, we need to come down from the big picture thinking to get a more practical idea of how you would like to achieve these goals. You should be as specific as possible when outlining this plan.
Questions to ask yourself at this point include:
- What qualifications do you need to pursue this career?
- What roles will you be pursuing? Are there any specific companies or organisations that can give you the experience you need?
- How will this career help you to make an impact the areas you’re passionate about?
You should make sure that you have specific plans in mind for the short, medium, and long term.
For example, let’s say you are passionate about fighting climate change.
You are most skilled in the sciences and mathematics, so you decide that in the short term, you will pursue an industrial engineering degree.
In the medium term, when you graduate you will get a training contract at a company that is pushing forward sustainable building practices.
In the long term, you plan to work for the government in your home country, carrying out sustainable urban development projects.
See? Starting with your skills and passions, you can build a practical plan that benefits your community.
Advice from interviewers
Chevening interviewers say that the key to success is being as specific as possible about what your goals are, and how you are going to achieve them.
“Ambitious goals are welcome, but they shouldn’t sound as pie in the sky,” says an interviewer from the British Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia.
It is especially important to show where Chevening fits into your career plan.
“Candidates should demonstrate specifically how studying for a Master’s degree at a UK university and making use of the Chevening activities and network will help them achieve their career goals, and how those goals will benefit the wider development of their community and country.”
An interviewer from the British Embassy in Rabat, Morocco, agrees: “They should be as specific as possible. Simply saying ‘Improving my community’ is not a great response; they need to explain how and be detailed in their response.”
If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to put together a clear, actionable plan that uses your unique skills to create real good in your community. We can’t wait to hear about it in your interview. Good luck!
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