How These Simple Techniques Helped These People Get the Chevening Scholarship

I am a Soft-Skills Trainer and Admissions Coach. I want to share four simple techniques for winning at the Chevening Scholarship interview.

Each year I coach a collection of prospective Chevening Scholars. I have helped multiple candidates in Mexico and Latin America gain the award. After successfully navigating the essay round, attention switches to the interview. The interview stage is the final stage in selection, so the last chance to make a great impression.

I focus mainly on Mexico, where only 10-15% of applicants get an interview. Only about 20% of these will be successful at this stage. This means, only around 1-2% of all scholarship applicants in Mexico will be awarded the scholarship. A poor interview will certainly guarantee failure.


For every applicant I coach, I do thorough preparation. After the interview I then do a comprehensive debrief. Each year, I then look at the winning scholars and look for what they have in common.

Four things stand out about successful applicants. I will share 4 tips to increase your chances of impressing the Chevening interview panel.

  • They understand the Chevening Scholarship

The purpose of the Scholarship is wide. Firstly, it is a way for the UK to build diplomatic and social relationships with other countries. This is designed to promote joint economic prosperity for the UK and the partner country.

Secondly, the scholarship is targeted at future influencers and leaders. They want to support people who will be instrumental in future relationships. It can also sometimes align with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) strategic goals in that country. For example, in Mexico, investment in the energy sector is often a priority for the UK government. Use Google to find out current priorities.


The Chevening Secretariat are not looking to award scholarships to people to have a good time in the UK. Nor do they want to award scholarships to people who are only interested in their own development. Candidates who demonstrate a lack of understanding of the scholarship and who show too much self-centeredness have typically been rejected.

  • They know what is going to be asked

Interviews do not follow an exact script, but there are some questions that come up regularly. Questions will often be related to the topics of your essays. They will explore your leadership, networking and academic abilities.


Over the years, I have built up a bank of more than 40 questions asked by interview panels. Here are some examples:

  1. Why did you apply for the Chevening Scholarship?
  2. Why are you particularly interested in studying in the United Kingdom?
  3. How have your networking skills benefited you and others?
  4. How would you describe a good leader?

If you are interested in accessing the full list, email me at or DM me on Twitter @tomscottmex

  • They lead with the Key Message

Know how to answer questions efficiently. You will be given one to two minutes to answer each question, so it is important you are clear and efficient. Do not waffle on for two minutes without actually answering the question.

For example, for the question “How would you describe a good leader?” open with something like “I believe a good leader is X, Y and Z”. Then give details about why you believe this, perhaps sharing a short anecdote or example.

This is better than giving a long anecdote and lots of inconsequential details. The risk is you don’t ever answer the question or you confuse the listener with too much unimportant information. You may even get cut off before you actually explain what you think a good leader is.

  • They use body language of trust and influence

It is important to show the interview panel that you have leadership and influence abilities. Additionally, you want the panel to trust you as a person. Your body language is an essential part of achieving this.


Mehrabian’s rule suggests that over 50% of the impact of your message comes from your body language. The rest comes from our tone of voice and our choice of words. Our reptilian brains observe body language and we make judgement calls about others.

To understand this concept more, watch the following two TED talks.

Will Stephen – How to Sound Smart in Your TED Talk

Mark Bowden – The Importance Of Being Authentic

Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts related to your body language:

Do Don’t
Smile for a few seconds at a time Look miserable or scared.
Maintain eye contact with all members of the panel Talk to just one member of the panel.
Open your hands and use them to tell a story Put your hands in your pockets or behind your back.
Maintain a confident, open pose. Fidget or move too much.
Actively show you are listening to questions, e.g. eye contact and open palms. Cross your arms and legs when listening.


Get Closer To the Chevening Community

More than anything, a successful interview requires meticulous preparation. You are competing against many people. These people will invest time, energy and money to give themselves the best chance. If you do not prepare, you are not guaranteed to fail. But, you are definitely increasing the chance that you will.

Be part of a community of Chevening Scholars. I offer specialized coaching on applications and interviews. Moreover, I connect each year’s cohort with current and former Chevening Scholars, providing each person as many tools as possible to succeed.

Tom Scott,

Twitter @tomscottmex

Linked In – 


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