Longlists, shortlists, references, and interviews

Programme team – international

Programme team – international

Chevening Secretariat

At this time of the year, tens of thousands of hopefuls who had worked hard to submit their applications for a Chevening Scholarship find out whether they’ve been invited for an interview. This is usually a highly-anticipated moment of huge joy and excitement for those applicants who receive positive news. For those whose Chevening journey comes to an end at this point, this might be a moment of disappointment, or an opportunity to reflect and prepare to return stronger when the next cycle opens in August.

This year, with a new online application system, we’ve had to adjust the process and timelines to ensure that a thorough selection process is carried out in a way that maintains the fairness and rigour that Chevening has become known for.

We’ve received a lot of queries about what happens with applications once they’re submitted, so we’re taking this opportunity to expand on the application timeline already posted on our website, to explain the process in more detail.

What is the longlist and how is it created?

Once the application deadline passes, all applications are sifted to ensure that they meet our eligibility criteria. Whilst the online system does a lot of this work automatically (for example, by enforcing word limits and calculating work experience), other criteria are manually checked, such as ensuring that the application is written in English.

All applications that make it past this stage are reviewed by an independent reading committee. Reading committees are composed of an academic and a regional expert. Reading committee members themselves have to apply for this responsibility, and they are interviewed to assess their suitability for the role. They bring great experience with them, with many having worked in recruitment or admissions at UK universities. They are trained and briefed and their job is to carefully and consistently review applications, and then give them a score.

Reading committees operate independently of the Chevening Secretariat and British embassies and high commissions (which we will call ‘posts’ from now on). The Secretariat and posts do not influence the scores the reading committees give.

The top scoring applicants are passed on to posts to review. This is the longlist.

The number of applications that make the cut varies, depending on the number of awards available that year in each country/territory. However, given the volume of applications we receive, to have made it to the longlist is an achievement within itself.

What happens then? How does the longlist turn into the interview shortlist?

Each post receives their longlist. Their task is to then review that longlist and select those candidates that they would like to invite to interview. Posts will take various factors into consideration, such as the reading committee score, and the content of their application with regards to their career plans, leadership and influencing skills, motivations for studying in the UK, and their networking statement.

On average only about one in five longlisted applicants make it to the interview stage. This is the shortlist.

Simultaneously, candidates who have been longlisted by the reading committees are informed of the positive news, and requests for references are sent to the named referees. References are not taken into account by post when they review their longlists in order to shortlist candidates for interview.

Why are applicants asked for references if they aren’t going to be considered for shortlisting?

We have previously written about why we ask for references, and these reasons are still valid.

We request them at the longlisting stage so that posts have references available by the time they meet their shortlisted candidates at interview. Referees are often busy academics or professionals, so we intend to give them enough time to submit your references as their failure to do so jeopardises your ability to progress to the next stage of the process.

The deadline to receive references was initially 25 February. However, due to issues relating to the new online application system, we extended the deadline in order to allow everyone to submit their references in advance of interviews, should they be shortlisted by their post.

This extension meant that the window for references had to remain open during the period when people were finding out whether they had been shortlisted for interview. Some longlisted applicants who were not successfully shortlisted might have found out whilst they were still attempting to secure their referees. The timing and the confusion is regretful, and we will review our processes and communications to ensure that this is clearer next year.

Why has it taken this long for some applicants to find out if they’ve been invited to interview?

We were hopeful that we would be able to inform all applicants if they were selected for interview by mid-February. We inform applicants of their outcomes on a country-by-country basis, once we have received shortlists back from posts and an interview schedule has been drawn up.

At the time of writing, the majority of applicants have been informed of their outcome. However, issues with new system coupled with the need to make sure that all applications are reviewed thoroughly have meant that it has taken longer to send back shortlists and interview schedules than we had hoped. It is our top priority to ensure that applicants are notified about their outcomes as soon as we possibly can. If you are yet to receive your outcome, your continued patience is very much appreciated. We are working to get them to you as quickly as possible. 

The interview period runs until 1 May, and everyone who is invited for an interview will be given enough time to prepare for their slot.

I’ve been invited for an interview! What should I know?

Firstly, congratulations! You should know that you’ve done extremely well to get this far.

Please log back into the application system and schedule your interview. Interview slots are limited, and are available on a first-come first-served basis. We therefore suggest you schedule your interview slot as soon as possible. You must bring your education documents and references to your interview if you haven’t yet uploaded them to the online application system. 

Follow us on our social media channels as we’ll be sharing interview tips from scholars, alumni, and posts in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, here are some good tips from previous scholars