14 preparatory tips to face a PhD Interview Questions

PhD Interview Tips

This PhD interview advice can help you prepare well for PhD interview questions to ask during your presentation. To face PhD interview, one needs a preparation guide about research topic. Get ready with sample answers. Sometimes PhD interview could be through Skype or telephone interview. Look for some PhD interview examples on how to introduce yourself. The dress code also makes an impression. Try to follow the below steps to make your PhD interview go smoothly with a good result. There are many sources out there on internet and YouTube. Get a good PhD interview guide that can help you crack PhD interview. But at the same time, this is my contribution to give you good tips.

PhD interview Questions to ask

  • Why have you chosen this topic to research and not the other popular ones?
  • How can you defend this topic to those who are not supportive?
  • Why do you wish to join this university for research?
  • We prefer full-time students. What is your opinion?
  • Did you publish any papers in reputed journals?
  • Did you attend any international conference?
  • How do you plan to research during the course of your PhD?
  • What if your PhD supervisor asks you to change the entire topic?
  • What is that strongly prompts you to do PhD? 
  • What choice would you take if you lose interest in the middle of your PhD course?
  • Are you able to meet deadlines while doing PhD?
  • How able are you to cope up with stress during PhD?
  • What will be the supervision arrangements be for the project?
  • Will I have opportunities to teach/present/ publish?
  • How many other PhD. students have this supervisor seen to completion?

Tips for PhD interview preparation and presentation

  • Know your Research Topic clearly before PhD interview.
  • Keep research problems in mind to face panel.
  • You must be able to defend your topic during the interview.
  • Try to choose new topics to research that will impress panel.
  • Say something to all the questions asked.
  • Never keep silent for some question that you do not know.
  • Say I do not have idea in case if you are not knowing answer.
  • Do not argue while defending your topic
  • Respond positively to the suggestions given during PhD interview.
  • Tell clearly whether you want to opt for full time or Part time.
  • Keep in mind your previous academic scores.
  • Look Confident with the topics in the subject of research.
  • Look into the eyes of the doctoral panel during an interview.
  • Think you are a scholar and pretend that you know all.
  • Behave in such a way you are eager to do research. ( if given chance).
  • A good PhD interview dress code plays a vital part.
  • Try to speak a good academic English during PhD interview.

A complete PhD interview Guide

Attaching your research proposal on the application for the Ph.D. requires you to familiarize with it before attending the PhD interview .

The possibility of the PhD interview panel asking you more about the proposal is normally high. Always be prepared to discuss it in details in case you are asked for and also back up your claims.

Be prepared to be asked any question on your bachelors and master degree experience. This helps the panel realize the relevance of your previous studies.

This helps the PhD interview panel to prove that you understand the nature of the work your supervisor does.This gives an idea of the current state of academic scholarship in your area. Your work as a Ph.D. should be unique. A PhD should be an original piece of research.

Though it may appear obvious, your program should be well understood. You have to identify if it an advertised position. If so, you need to know all the details that it pertains, identifying its objectives and also identifying whoever else other than your involved in the research.

You have to familiarize yourself about the external funding. It is important to practice for a presentation in case you have been asked to do so.

This will help you gain confidence when facing the public audience even though the panel is supportive.h.D. is the uppermost level of education someone can attain in life.

It takes a long time for one to complete the studies with a series of challenges.Though after completion one has the privilege of honor by being called Dr., it is important as it will help you look for a good job that will sustain yourself.

There are a number of jobs available in the marketplace for a Ph.D. holder. A doctor of philosophy can end up owning the title Dr., or later become a professor.Before you are enrolled to study PhD the university has to test your readiness through an interview.

Most individuals have lost their opportunities to study Ph.D. just because they are poorly prepared for the interview.

The PhD interview is one of the best platforms you will be connected to the university and your supervisors to discuss the details of the PhD. being invited for an interview is a clear indication that the university thinks you can complete your studies.

Therefore you should not take the interview as a way to intimidate you, rather as a forum to learn more about the field you intend to study.

You need to prepare well before attending the PhD interview. You are going to be enlightened about what to expect at the interview.

What happens when you present yourself to the interview? The format of a Ph.D. interview is not the same. It varies depending on your subject area, and the circumstances you are during the application.

Sometimes you can be invited before a panel while sometimes you can meet your supervisor at a specific place, say at a refreshment place taking coffee. In the two circumstances, you there exist some differences.

As meeting your supervisor at say at canteen may not seem so official, you must remember that it is PhD interview and need to take it importantly. The interview may be carried out in one of the following formats.

For the interview before the postgraduate panel, there may be a formal question and answer session, presentation based on your area of expertise, an informal lunch.

For an interview with your supervisor, you may have a one on one discussion or an informal lunch.

There might be various orientation activities, which involves a visit to research places and have an opportunity to chat with staff and students

How long does the PhD interview take?

Well, the length of the PhD interview will vary depending on the format of the interview. For example, you may meet the panel, greet them, have length then later you meet for an interview.

At the same time, you may meet your supervisor, have a cup of coffee while conducting the interview concurrently. You are recommended not to be fixed on the time frame for the interview.

In case your Ph.D. is to be funded, the only possible kind of interview is the panel one. This interview consists mainly of question and answer before a postgraduate recruitment panel. The composition of this panel is as follows;

Your project supervisor. Sometimes the supervisors may be more than one. Their role is to asses you if you suit the role academically and personally.

Institutions postgraduate admissions staff member. They normally chair the interview.

The lead investigator for your prospective research group. They are responsible for the research of your project.

Normally the PhD interview panel will ask you a question and listen to your answers. The main point of concentration is your academic background, research interests, and your goals.

Sometimes you may be required to give a more specific PhD interview presentation at the same time answer questions.  This process is normally short with fewer complications.

You may also be required to speak about your research proposal in details or alternatively, give summarize previous research proposal. There is an opportunity for you to ask for question whenever the panel is through asking you questions.

You should take note of proper mastery of your proposal in each case, whether for the formal interview or informal.

Easy ways to prepare for your PhD interview

PhD interview is not a lecture you will wake up, pick up your books and leave. Or a discussion group you need to prepare less. It requires proper planning.

Take enough time to prepare carefully but not tense whichever form it is.

As for job interview, you also need to put on decently when attending Ph.D. interview. Always pay attention to your appearance regardless of the format of the interview.

Your putting on will show if you are serious for the activity and may even cost you. When chatting with your supervisor in his office may appear casual but you need to present yourself in a smart way.

You may choose, if you desire, to put on tweet jacket and elbow patches.

When presenting yourself to the interview, you should always to carry with you a pen and paper.

Carry with you a copy of the research proposal if you presented it during the application process. Any presentation material you have been asked to carry with you should be also available.

The highly decisive point for the interview is during your contact with the panel, or the one on one discussion with the supervisor.

The way you answer the questions is very important more so when it comes to winning the opportunity. A university will not easily trust you to undertake the Ph.D. program more so when there is funding involved. The questions may seem simple, common but the way you answer determines the strength.

There is a list of PhD interview questions on this page, you probably expect to meet during the interview process.

Also included is the answer to give and precautions to take while answering such questions and also to let you know why the university asks such questions. Take a look at some of them.

Giving details about yourself while facing PhD interview.

This is one of the PhD interview questions that are common in any kind interview. It is an open question. By asking you this question the panel is providing a great opportunity to help you ease yourself throughout the interview.

It is one of the hardest questions since you might not know which part of yourself to describe. When responding to this question, your answer has to be admissible to the situation at hand.

Ensure that the answer you do provide does not run down to your achievement academic wise or the interest that you do have leave alone your goals This parameter will be covered ass the interview goes on.

You have to describe your background briefly, where you come from and also about some of your interests. You can also mention what was your inspiration towards choosing that Ph.D., choose to study from that given university or city.

One of the ways to answer the panel is by telling them you interested in ascertaining how thing work out, but as an undergraduate, you opened your eyes to anticipation and broader reimbursements of science.

You can also tell them you had an opportunity to carry out original research during your master which challenged you to go for a Ph.D.

Avoid describing where your house is located, the name of your pet, what your pet like doing, your best friends at school, your favorite color, and favorite flavor. They don’t make sense to the panel.

What is the main motive for you to go for a PhD interview?

Answer this PhD interview question with caution. The panel at this point demands to know what is behind your mind to do a Ph.D. course. Though it may appear simple, don’t provide an answer that is completely simplistic.

If you just point out that you are good the subject of study and that you felt to pursue a Ph.D. as a next academic level would not amuse the panel more so if funding is required.

You have to realize that the panel is aware that you are capable, and has proved this by the fact that you accepted and attended the interview. All they want is for you portray the zeal and drive that will see you complete the three year study period.

You can tell them you’ve enjoyed your academic work at the moment though you feel you have a lot to offer as a researcher. Let them know you are passionate about the subject and that you are not contented that the questions you need to address have been given maximum attention.

Don’t tell the panel you can’t figure out what you can do with your masters and the opinion of your current tutor is that you are mentally fit for a Ph.D.

What is our next step after facing your PhD interview?

Why are you studying for the Ph.D.? One of the main reason is for you to get a good job perhaps. Other learn for leisure to own the title Dr. or professor.

But how do you answer such a question to the panel? Will tell them you expect someone will give you a job doing more research as that is what Ph.D.’s do right? That would be a failure.

The university will always ensure you go for a Ph.D. when you provide the right reasons to support it. This will drive you to move on even when research become technical. It is true that not all who earns doctorate have a desire for academic jobs.

A university will recruit Ph.D. student responsibly and will provide all skills required. You must realize that you don’t need to be a scholar for your application for a Ph.D. to go through.

Research training prepares you to work on a wider range of careers. Appreciating this will win your impression to the panel.

If asked this question, tell the panel; you believe the Ph.D. project will lead new and better lines of inquiry mushrooming up for the field and you intend to make use them for an effective research career.

Let them also know that you are interested in development opportunities such as the doctoral program that you are applying. You can open to them you on how you are objected be academic-oriented though keeping other options available.

During PhD interview your strengths and weaknesses are analyzed.

Everyone has different levels of abilities. You have specific strength and weakness. One of the strongest parts of an individual is the ability to cover his weakness.

This is one of challenging question that requires you to analyze the abilities and any opportunities that can be utilized for further development.  This is not a judgmental question.

The panel is not ready to judge your strength or weaknesses. You need to give a solid example of strength and should be able to relate them to the Ph.D. programme you are applying for. You should not just say you are a good timekeeper.

For weaknesses, maintaining the right balance when describing them is the right way to get everything right. During the interview, this is the time you have to forget that you sometimes have a sense of self-doubt.

You can’t mention excessive perfectionism as a challenge. Honesty is a virtue that you should not compromise especially when addressing issues that are very challenging on your side, though remember to state how you intend to control them not affect your study life.

When describing a character avoid the use of words like actually as they represent a dreadful idea.

For such a PhD interview question, you may tell them your academic and professional qualification and conduct demonstrate a high ability that places your ideas plainly and succinctly to help manage a piece of distinctive information that your Ph.D. research looks to address.

For the challenges tell them but you are not as organized as you would wish. Let them know you intend to address it during your postgraduate program and that you look forward to taking the advantage of classes and development opportunities during your doctorate.

Don’t tell the panel that having no weaknesses is part of your strength or rather having no strengths is your major weakness.

Do you have any training in mind that you need it to be identified during your PhD interview?

This PhD interview question will trigger you to think of your strength and weaknesses. Don’t tell the panel that you are bad at interview and that they should have a class for the same. However, the panel might ask you about the training needs specifically more when applying for the structured program.

In such case, you should focus on the objectives and your motive as a researcher and demonstrate that you have read about the discipline you are applying about.in case the school offer training modules, identify them and select the one you would like to gain m, ore skills about and how they will contribute to your study.

The best way to answer this question is to let the panel know you are interested in reaching out a wider audience when communicating your research though you are still adamant on the best way to do this. Come up with a suggestion on how carrying out a training module that focuses on public engagement can be of great use.

There are some questions which may target your project. At this time, its university’s opportunity to further asses you if you are indeed suitable for the advertised Ph.D. position.

It is a good opportunity for you to give your proposal a wider perspective and proof to the interviewer that you well skilled, experienced, comprehending on how best you can complete the doctorate.

Since the panel consists funding representative, it will be the right moments to assure them that you do have the right financial planning ability and that they can trust their funds to and that you can’t fail them at any moment.

Whenever answering the questions, always remember to refer for the proposal expanding on what the panel has already read. The following are some questions that you will be asked about your project.

Why Chose this project?

Answering this PhD interview question needs you to first remind yourself if the program is an advertised Ph.D. project or you are proposing a project that you researched by your own within the departments Ph.D. program.

Most of the advertised Ph.D. projects are normally funded and they are in the science, engineering, and mathematics. For such programs, you need to clearly figure it out. You have to identify what makes you be interested in it and how is it related to your opportunities.

For the program you choose yourself, you need to show your passion that is coupled with a lot of enthusiasm about it.

You have to outline some existing scholarships and show why your project is distinctive. Remember a Ph.D. should offer original information.at this stage, you are now free to share the choice of university and also why your previous work makes you fit for this project.

The panel here wants you to find out if you have made an affirmative choice and you understand well about your project and ready enough to carry it out.

You should not be mistaken to tell the panel that you would do anything if it’s funded.

However, you can tell the panel that the Ph.D. appeals to your at most research interests. You can tell them that you are also inspired by the opportunities to specialize and create new and better expertise.

You reveal to them that other projects did not look to have offered the same and equal opportunities to provide a solution to the questions that are at hand.

Why do you think you are the right candidate for this PhD interview?

This question requires confidence to answer.  This question will mostly be asked to candidates when lodging an application for your pre-defined Ph.D. project.

It should be noted that not all these projects are funded.  The funding can be attracted to the quality qualifications of the student. The panel, therefore, ensures they get the best and right candidate to award the project.

For the self-proposed Ph.D., this question can still be asked to test your motivations and commitment. In such situations, you have the opportunity to talk about your works at the bachelors and master level.

Though the PhD interview panel knows your grades already, it gives an opportunity to speak more about your achievements the degrees that you have acquired. When answering, you should remember to give examples.

Don’t tell the panel “well, I really like books”. Tell them you have been inspired by the topic ever since you completed the final year of your undergraduate degree which led you to go for your masters in that field with that dissertation topic.

Let the panel know you are excited and willing to go on and to carry out sustained research in that area of study as a Ph.D. student.

What difficulties and challenges do you foresee when working on this project?

This PhD interview question entices you to speak about your strength, weakness or the challenges you faced in your previous project. You are required to speak out frankly as the panel is not intended to trick you here.

Remember the panel is not only meant to know more about you but also to find out how it can support you in case you qualify for the project. You should be open enough to cite out problems and challenges you don’t have a certain approach on how to solve them.

However, you should suggest the possible method you would use to investigate them. When answering this question, it is the right opportunity you can use to point out any training requirements and facilities that you need.

The panel should find it from you that you might find it difficult to find acquiring materials needed to for the proposed project.

You also can inform them that you intend to first request for permissions, then arrange necessary pre-visits, and after which you will develop a system for recording you’re your findings.

Always look forward toward in pertaining training regarding archival practices as you look forward to enumerating advise from your supervisors in the essence of developing your key and critical skills in your project

Don’t tell the panel that you know the Ph.D. is a difficult degree but you have your plans set aside to see how you can get along with it. This way, you create a sense of disbelieving.

What is your transpired impact of the project?

Always remember to mention you greater hopes and wider outcome of your project even before you are asked by the panel. This is the question you need to have a standby answer with you already.

The impact can be assessed through the measurable effects that the research has outside the academic boundaries. The Ph.D. you need to start working on should have a positive impact on the on society.

The effect has to be felt since the publication you are going to work out on is original. When the project is fully funded, its effect should be beneficial to the surroundings or to the public since the money should have originated from the public revenues.

The correct answer for this question is to let the panel know that you are keen and interested to share your passion for the discipline within your multitude audience.

What funding approaches are you likely to consider for a project?

Sometimes the panel is aware that the funding of the project is available. However, you are normally asked his question to find out if you have flexible minds or if you will give up with the project in case there is no funding.

For students who are self-funding themselves, you need to give all the details. The panel also wants to find out if you know the cost of carrying out the project.

When asked, you may reply by telling them you have listed external funders who are willing to research on any small bursaries or another form of financial support that might arise through the university.

You can also inform them you have made necessary arrangements to go for a part-time job so as to improve the financial situations.

If you tell the panel you have any breakthrough on how to afford it, they will see no future in your plans.

There are other types of question that involves the choice of university. You just need to read about the university, departments, and supervisors before attending the university. The following are questions are about the university which you need to answer diligently.

What is your compelling reason for selecting this university to pursue your PhD

When asked about this PhD interview question, be sure another relating to the department will arise. Talk more about the facilities that the university has and the research that is being undertaken.

You can explain why you specifically want to work under these supervisors. Show any awareness and relevance of the research facilities in the institution you know.

This question can be answered by telling them you have looked at a lot of opportunities and resources in the area and you feel that the project is the right choice since it combines a unique angle of research with a training program that meets your professional skills. Let them know you have familiarized with your supervisor working under him/her.

You should not make them realize you are doing the Ph.D. in the institution because you did your master with them or because you have accommodation around.

What contribution can you bring to this research group?

This question exposes you out on how you need to conduct yourself and interact. As a candidate, you are more of a student. You work through networking. In all these, you will be found contributing greatly to different groups in so many ways.

You have to recognize the facilities in the institutions and let the panel know how determined you are expertise what the university offer but at the same time contributing from your best ability.

Let them also realize that you will be grateful become a member of the department and spearhead the teamwork policy.

It is inappropriate if the recruitment board realize you are applying because you consider yourself clever by being a bachelor and master degrees holder.

After answering all these questions, it will be your turn to ask the panel questions. This is normally the final section of your interview. If you ask good questions, it shows you are motivated.

Having this basic information you become well equipped to face the Ph.D. interview. All the best as you look forward to advancing your academic circle.

Syam Reddy

Hello, My name is Syam, Professor of English and Mentor for Ph.D. students worldwide. I have worked years to give you these amazing tips to complete your Ph.D. successfully. Having put a lot of efforts means to make your Ph.D. journey easier. Thank you for visiting my Ph.D. blog.

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