Interview Tips for YALI

The best leaders are those humble enough to seek answers from others

Adebayo Alonge

The Solutions Ideator
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Congratulations now that you are through to this stage.

It says a lot about you to have made it this far. Now make it count.

This stage is as competitive as the application stage and you need to give it you best.

Follow these tips to improve your chance of making it through:-

1. Master your essays

Your interview will be based on your application. You need to prove that you wrote it yourself and that you are passionate about the leadership mission you outlined.

Ensure you articulate how you expect the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship to help you on your path to achieving your mission. Go through the objectives of the YALI initiative and ensure your link your personal motives with the overall goal of the program.

2.Show that the fellowship will make a difference for your work

The panelists will like to know why you want to go on the fellowship after all there are many similar opportunities online and within your country to advance your mission.

You must therefore state clearly how going on the fellowship will make a difference in helping you achieve your mission. Ensure you articulate the value you bring on the program- to your country, your host institution, your host community and the cohort you join.

3. Espouse the principles of servant leadership

Your responses should show that you are a true servant leader-not one who is out for himself alone.

How do you intend to ensure that others benefit from you going on the fellowship? How are you currently organizing your work to benefit others in your community? If you are not consumed with passion about serving the weak in your community, you cannot be a Mandela Washington Fellow.

4. Show interview etiquette

Dress like a leader. Ensure you maintain eye contact and hand shake firmly. Take your seat only when offered and be polite. Master the names of the panelists-better you write them down when they introduce themselves and refer to them by their first names through your conversations.

Show confidence through your voice-project and sit up on your seat. When leaving say thank you with a smile and a  slight bow and gently close the door behind you.

Stay smiling all through.

5. Engage and be engaging

Maintain the conversation. Be a pleasure to talk with and ensure you ask at least an intelligent question especially as the interview draws to an end.

Note that your panelists will be experts in your track and your questions can serve to show the value you will bring on the study part of the fellowship .

The greatest leaders are those who ask the most thought provoking questions and who are humble enough to seek answers from others.

I look forward to welcoming you as a Mandela Washington Fellow.


179 thoughts on “Interview Tips for YALI

  1. Pls i got an email to come for interview on 21th of January in IITA ibadan,but i wish to know the authenticity of this mail, as i hope the interview should be held at US embassy in lagos,why ibadan.pls can u giv any info that can help.

  2. Pls i got an email to come for interview on 21th of January in IITA ibadan,but i wish to know the authenticity of this mail, as i hope the interview should be held at US embassy in lagos,why ibadan.pls can u giv any info that can help.thanks

    1. Hello Grace,

      Unfortunately I cannot authenticate the mail.

      But since its in IITA please go as I am sure they have invited people from across the South West to make it easier for regional candidates to make it for the interview.

      Besides other interviews are taking place now!

      All the best.

      1. Bayo….my name is Chibuike from Nigeria.Happy New year! Thanks for your encouragement.Applied last year but didn’t make.This year “my expectation materialized”.My interview is on Thursday!

  3. Many thanks mentor. Found the guidelines really helpful. Applicants from Sierra Leone are keen to be contacted. Waiting earnestly with due patience and expectations. Trusting in God.

      1. Hi Adebayo, Just still thinking of the question that can stimulate the debate more! Can you share one example?

      2. Hey Ella,

        Example of a question you could ask –

        From your experience in American supply chain management of medical consumables, what do you think about my current emphasis on just in time supplies to retail pharmacies?

  4. This is so insightful! It’s of great help. My interview is tomorrow; I’ve been looking all around for guidance, and your tips have put springs in my steps. Thanks a million.

  5. Hello.Am Mercy from Kenya.Kindly asking if the US embassy has began contacting Kenyans.
    Waiting, praying and hoping

  6. Hello. Am Lucia from Tanzania. Kindly asking if the US embassy has began contacting Tanzanians….

    My fingers still crossed, waiting for my turn….

    1. Hello LUCIA, I would like to know if you got contacted by the US Embassy last year and if your went to the interview what were the outcomes? I would like to know your experience in this if any.


  7. I’m Andy from Ghana. I Just received my invitation for the interview yesterday. I have been all over the web looking for tips as this. Thanks man, Its great

  8. Stella, hi kindly inquiring your nationality.Am from Uganda am wondering whether any one has had an invite from our embassy. thank you and good luck to those with invites.

  9. I m Max from Senegal, thanks for the useful tips here. My interview is next week . Piece of advise for ppl who have been invited , contact a Yali fellow and ask tthem to simulate an interview with you based on their experience. Good l=Luck brothers and sisters

    1. So, is there a former Yali fellow who would want to simulate the interview with me? On Skype? My interview is tomorrow.

    1. Good luck Temesgen Tilahum. I’ve just finished my interview. And I can’t say how it was. As I’m a french speaker, it’s not always easy. And it was by phon…. Let’s see

      1. hello stella,
        how long did the interview last? and what kind of questions did they ask?
        i am really curious as my interview is for next week. i am a little bit anxious

      2. Yeeeah i would like to know too. Am sooo anxious can t even describe how i feel right now.

    2. Hello temesgen, just to ask if you have any info about the interview? is it over for Ethiopians? and did you hear your result?

  10. ohhh thanks guys..good luck for those with interviews.please inquire and let us dying of tension.thanks.could they be doing it alphabetically?

    1. Hello Pam,
      I don’t think they have contacted, the people from East Africa yet, I have friends from Rwanda they are all still waiting. So lets just wait with our fingers crossed 🙂


      1. hi Lucia, Rwanda has been contacted have you been contacted?how about your Rwandese friend?i still don’t want to believe that i was left out…..but February is almost half way…..i might be forced to believe so. good luck friend.please let us know just in case you got one.

  11. hello Adebayo. will like to know if there are different batches for the interview. A friend applied and shes yet to receive an invite. Thank you

  12. Hi Adebayo,am Robert from Kenya and i would like to have a fomer YALI fellow to similate an interview with me.kindly help out.

  13. The interview was so fast for me. One of the panelist said to me to not worry, because he think I did well. I don’t really know how to feel about that but fingers crossed

  14. hey guys
    i am in ZIMBABWE does anybody know when applicants in zimbabwe will be told for an interview today is the 10th of febuary but no word yet keeping my fingers crossed.

    any infomation will be greatly appreciated

    god bless

  15. hey am starting to believe that the interviews and invites are being given alphabetically.Rwanda hoping Uganda and the rest of East Africa will be contacted this and next week….or else i be forced to believe that i am left out…i still don’t want to believe so
    .Lucia and the rest of East Africa keep us posted….thanx

  16. hello guys i’m from Ethiopia but nothing yet. waiting for the mail hopefully. is there any one from Ethiopia over here???

    1. Hi Stella. You will have your answer soon I think because I got mine yesterday and I’m in Senegal. Good luck to everyone!

      1. Hi Elsa,I got my answer and your at the same time, that was a mistake from the embassy. Congratulations

      2. Yes the tips helped alot, my interview was so fast, less than ten minutes. I guess they didn’t have more to ask. I was really worried about that.

  17. What? They gave you my answer as well as yours :-). Thanks and congratulations to you to. We’ll see each other soon I guess!

    1. Congratulations girls. I m Max from senegal. I got my answer yrsterday too. Looking forward to meeting you

      1. Congratulations Max! It’s going to be a great experience. I’m really looking forward to meeting you all :-).

  18. Thanks Adebayoalonge! Your tips really helped me focus and prepared for the interview. Thanks a lot frome Senegal :-).

    1. tnx for all z info. What are the chances for an alternate candidate to be contacted? I am on the waiting list. How many are are on the total list?

  19. Hi Adebayo, and others, I’m James from Nigeria. Seems the interview is going to be live with the representatives, in our various countries. Would they request for any form of documents or certificates?

  20. Hello Every one. I am Nisile from Tanzania I would like to know if anyone applied for YALI 2016 and if they have been contacted by the embassy?!

  21. I was looking for tips like these. Thanks a lot for the tips, I hope that I will make it because I know am one of those going to attend interviews soon.


  22. just keep your fingers crossed,the invitation might still come in,im not sure it’s a day thing,all I know is jan-feb is for interview

  23. I got a text message today ( with a mail to be sent soon) inviting me for the interview at Barrack Obama American Corner at Ajose Adeogun street, Lagos. I don’t know how genuine it is because this type of interview is supposed to be done at US Embassy. Who is with me on this?

    1. I didn’t get a text I got a mail saying my application has been reviewed and I’m to come for a personal interview at the US embassy…also I was told to reply d mail to confirm my availability for the scheduled date and time.Nd I’m also told to come with my intl passport

      1. Thanks @olatokunbo. I was surprised too because the venue for the interview should be the US Embassy and also the text message wasn’t customized. Though when I called the number, the person told me that I would receive a mail in respect to the scheduled interview. Well, it is possible to be one of those scammers. Thanks, all the best in your interview.

    2. Ola, I strongly recommend that you ignore the message. It was stated clearly on YALI page that semi – finalists will be contacted via email. They couldn’t have sent you an sms. SECONDLY, I doubt if there is anything called the barrack obama American corner, what we have is America corner, and obviously, interviews for lagos residents will only hold at the USembassy.Please work only with a verified email.

      1. An sms was sent to me, inviting me and informing me that the email invitation would be sent soon — got the email the next day. The only seemingly fishy thing here is the “Barack Obama American Corner”.

      2. Thank you, I really appreciate. The invite is real and the venue is an extension of the US Embassy in Lagos. The venue is personally being funded by Barack Obama and there are many of such corners across Nigeria.

  24. Please does anyone here has an idea on wt documents or other necessary things to take along to the interview beside int’l passport

      1. hi OLa u said that u’ve already did your interview. how was it? what kind of questions do they ask?

      1. @kenny I’m from Ekiti and I got my invite already,infact I just had my interview today,like few hours ago. I was told 10,000 application were received no 600 was selected for interview. Interview Is in batches,all thru jan-feb,so put ur mind at rest urs might still come thru

      1. The interview was not a though one,its just like an interactive session btwn 4 pple.The panel comprises of 2nigerian a male no a female and 1 american. The questions are based on the application cos they have my application printed out with each of them. Firstly I was asked abt any innovation I’ve made and how I’ve used the innovation to help the society.upon answering that I was asked how the mandela fellowship will benefit me,i was asked who my role model is. Nd den reasons why I chose the category I wished to be placed in…..i think dis all.they congratulated me for making it this far,and they also explained d selection process to me and if I ended up not been selectd,i shouldn’t give up…..i hope this helps

      2. Also,i was asked about any volunteering works done in d society,i was asked if I’m proud of nigeria,things like that sha!

  25. Thanks @Tokunbo. Pls one more thing, which address did you use in your application Cv Is it Ekiti or Lagos? Thanks

  26. Thanks to you. I have followed your tips in applying for yali 2016 and I have made it to an interview stage. my interview in jos 2nd feb……….thank you a lot….

      1. Hi Khadar. Sorry I am only just reading this. My interview went well, at least from my perspective it did. 3 panelists. i was asked to give a brief intro of myself and i did. discussions involved my work and how it impacts my yali app, my mentor(s), my expectations from yali and what i hope to bring to the table. lasted about 15-20 mins. felt like 5 mins. lol! how did yours go?

      2. HI Jane, Mine was almost the same as you. I was asked to talk about my self? and then three things I will benefit from the Fellowship? next was about diversity and How i handled?. It seemed pretty much easy and I was wondering how will they select the right person. But if its good for me and Allah wills, I will get it. Wish you a good news in March 24 guyz Inshaa Allah.

  27. I got my invitation yesterday via phone, any body with a similar experience in Ghana?? thanks for the tips, hope I do well on Monday.

  28. I just received an email that my personal interview has been scheduled for monday, 8th February so i came online looking for interview tips and found your blog. Thank you, It is really helpful. The unfortunate thing is that i did not save a copy of the answers I gave in the application, which I would have gone through in preparation. Even though I have a good idea of what there were, would still like to have a copy though. Is it possible to get it through their website?

    1. Hi, Anieti-mfon are you managed to get your copy? I had the same situation here and my interview will be the day after to day…!!!
      from Tanzania, Pascal

    1. Hey Olatokunbo, this is really very helpful tips. Can kindly let me know if I need to carry it with me all my documentations including my Organization, passport, Citizen card, birth certificate etc. And also if you could pin point some of the most questions asked it would be great

  29. you don’t need to go there with any documentation,just your intl passport and id card. that’s all. Read thru ur application,ur questions will be asked based on it,all u need to to defend all what u filled in the application. Read thru the thread,i already gave details of how my interview went………congrats once again

    1. Thank you so much… That helps too. Although I have my passport but I don’t have citizenship ID card can any-other ID work. I don’t think my goverment can make it on time….

  30. Welcome to March! the month where we get to hear if we made it through or not. I wish y’all good luck

    1. Shamsuddeen I was told by the one of the panelist interviewing me a lady. I am not sure of the exact date by in April. Hope we will all make it.

      1. Thank God I have been selected! Thanks for the interview tips was really helpful. Any body else from Ghana or any other country???

  31. I am just wondering about one thing when i was applying it was spantaneous,now is there any means that i can see my application,bc m called for interview…..

  32. I had my interview read for Tuesday 11:45 AM, and they didn´t call. What does it mean? Please help

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