How to prepare for a Wellcome funding interview

If you apply for a Wellcome grant, you may be invited for an interview to help us reach a decision. This advice is to help you prepare for your interview and applies to funding schemes that are closing in 2021.

See Coronavirus (Covid-19): information for grant applicants and grantholders.

This advice applies to funding schemes that are closing in 2021. If you are applying for one of our new discovery research schemes, we will provide interview guidance in early 2022.

Prepare what you will say at the interview 

If you're invited to an interview, you’ll receive an email from us telling you what to prepare. 

You should have an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of what you're proposing and a general understanding of the work that any collaborators are doing.

Be prepared to:

  • give a short summary of your project
  • outline your research career to date
  • show ownership of the project
  • tell us why your project is important and how it will make a difference to the issue or topic you want to research  
  • justify your plan, for example why you’ve chosen to work with certain collaborators
  • explain the risks of the project and what your back-up plan is 
  • talk about the latest advances in your field of research.

"What we're looking for is genuine passion and enthusiasm for a subject area or project. We love to see the potential of the person and proposal in front of us. Candidates who inspire us with their vision and insight generally score well. We welcome researchers who know their stuff, have ambition and curiosity, and the drive to push it in innovative new directions." 

Professor Chris McCabe, Chair of Basic Science Interview Committee at Wellcome

Preparing a formal presentation

If you've been asked to do a presentation about your research proposal, check the invitation email to see how long it should last, the number of slides and the deadline for emailing it to us.

The content of the presentation is up to you but bear in mind that the interviewers would like to hear about your research vision and approach, and your relevant experience. Pitch your talk at a diverse audience as they won’t all be experts in your field.

We don't allow animations or films in interview presentations.

"The presentation needs to be accessible for all panel members as they come from different research backgrounds."

Dr A Jeyaprakash Arulanandam, Senior Research Fellow

Watch our animation to get more interview tips. Read the transcript

Practise in front of colleagues 

We encourage you to arrange mock interviews with colleagues from inside and outside your field.  

This gives you the opportunity to:

  • refine your answers to possible questions from the panel - you should be able to defend your project when challenged
  • practise giving a presentation, if relevant.

"I'm grateful that my host department offered a mock interview – it had tremendous value."

Dr Timothy Nott, Sir Henry Dale Fellow

"Practising your presentation and interview with the help of your colleagues as many times as possible can be of huge help in preparing yourself well to deliver the presentation clearly and to handle the questions effectively."

Dr A Jeyaprakash Arulanandam, Senior Research Fellow

Read the peer reviewers' comments 

Before your interview, we'll ask external experts to give us written peer review on your proposal. 

We'll send you these comments one week before your interview. 

You can respond to any important points in your interview.

Find out who’s on the interview panel 

Different schemes have different interview panels. Panel members are chosen for their specific expertise and broader research experience.

They will have read your proposal and the comments from external experts.

They'll be rigorous, but also fair and considerate in their questioning. 

The 'How to apply' sections of our scheme pages usually include details of the relevant interview panel.

Make any practical arrangements 

Most interviews are at our Wellcome headquarters in London. If you're invited for an interview, tell us if you need help with travel and accommodation.

If you are disabled or have a long-term health condition, find out how we can support you.

Dos and don'ts during your interview 


✔ Arrive 15 mins before your interview – a grants adviser will meet you in reception. They will tell you who is in the interview room and explain the room layout.

✔ Keep calm - the interview panel are all researchers who have been in the hot seat themselves. They're enthusiastic about proposals and the people who are behind them.

✔ Ask the panel to repeat the question if you don't understand it.


✘ Bring your own computer – we provide all the equipment.

✘ Ramble – there's limited time for questions so keep your answers succinct.

Timetable of a typical grant interview at Wellcome

  1. Introductions by the chairperson
  2. Candidate's presentation, if previously agreed 
  3. Questions from lead members of the interview panel 
  4. Additional questions from the rest of the interview panel
  5. Questions from the candidate 

When to expect a decision 

We aim to give you a decision within two to three weeks of your interview. 

More information 

Contact us 

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.