Dos and Don'ts of a PhD Interview

PhD interview questions can be very tricky to answer and this is for a good reason. Doing a PhD is an amazing academic achievement and not one for the faint hearted - your PhD interviewer needs to be sure that you are academically capable and can rise to the challenge.

We've compiled a list of Dos and Don'ts of a PhD interview from the interviewer's perspective to hopefully guarantee you success when answering the PhD interview questions:

 

Search for PhD Courses

PhD Interview Questions: DOs

• “Brand” yourself. Show your personality. We must remember you for something else besides your academic skills.

• Establish rapport with us and show us your social skills.

• Be confident and sure of your abilities, but don’t be overconfident. You are not the best in everything that you do.

• If we ask you a witty question, reply with a witty answer.

• Avoid simple yes or no answers.

• All PhD interviews are different. Be flexible when preparing and don’t take anyone’s advice as definite.

• Show that you are an independent and original thinker by engaging in debate and supporting your arguments with reasonable statements. However, always be polite and argue without insulting us.

• Be professional. Professionals can find the right measure between being serious and being informal.

• Show that you care about what you want to study and about what we do, and don’t be interested in our PhD program just to get the title.

• Research what we do. We don’t want to talk to someone who knows nothing about our work.

PhD Interview Questions: DON'Ts

• Don't pretend that you know things that you don’t. If you don’t know something, admit it. That is better than to give a weak answer signalling that you don’t know what you are talking about. 

• Don’t undermine the importance of 'soft' general questions like “Where do you see yourself in future?” or “What is motivating you to do the PhD?”

• Don't be passive in communication. We are interviewing you but you are also interviewing us.

• Don’t try to be too funny. We may have a different sense of humour than you do, especially if you come from a different culture.

• Don’t give too general answers. Be specific and to the point because that will show us that you are not feigning but you know what you are talking about.

• Don’t come dressed as if you just woke up - make an effort!

• Don’t try to pretend that you are someone you're not. We don’t like pretentiousness.

• Don’t get nervous if you think the interview is not going well. In many cases this is just your personal impression which may be wrong.

• Don’t talk jargon. It is not very likely that we were born in the same place or from the same background so we may not understand what you are saying.

• Don’t become too emotional during the PhD interview. Enthusiasm is good but not if it’s exaggerated.

Our table of potential PhD interview questions should help you prepare

Common PhD Interview Questions

Related Editorial Links

Are You Ready For A PhD?

How To Get The Most From Your PhD Supervisor

Common PhD Myths

Alphabet of PhD Study

Related Blog Links

Top Tips for Surviving a PhD

Things To Ask When Looking For A PhD

Best Things About Doing a PhD

Pros And Cons Of Getting A PhD

To PhD Or Not To PhD

The Dos And Don'ts Of A PhD Interview

 

Register with Postgrad.com

  • Exclusive bursaries
  • Open day alerts
  • Latest PG news
Register Now!