i totally messed up my phd interview


======= Date Modified 12 45 2009 02:45:41 =======
i'd been distantly considering a phd but not really been giving the idea much immediate thought, but earlier this year an advert for a phd studentship at cambridge was sent my way by a member of the research staff there who i know a little, on the basis that they thought i might be suitable for it and asked if i'd be interested to apply.

astonished that somebody had contacted me in this way, i jumped at the chance as it was exactly in the field in which i want to work in the long run and on something very closely related to my masters dissertation, so i spent three months working my ass off getting a good application in, got an interview and then.......totally messed it up and completely missed the place. it was woeful, i never even got off the starting blocks and have just seen a great opportunity slip out of my grasp because nerves got the better of me. i was trying so hard not to ramble or say anything stupid that i didn't say nearly enough, or even much that made sense.

now i feel like a total loser because everyone i know was so knocked out that the opportunity had come my way. thing is now i feel have to prove it to myself i can do it because somebody spotted my potential to do it, and also although the recent experience was one of the most difficult and painful of my entire life, i found the preparation and the writing of my research proposal so rewarding that i've got a taste for it now and want to do it - partly because the subject matter was exactly my field of interest and knowledge. thing is i'm 30 now, and say i even find one as right next year or the year after i worry that i'll be too old really for it to be viable or useful.

it was such a goddam nightmare. i haven't had a formal job interview for five years due to a combination of not getting interviewed for my masters and then landing a job after via an internship, and i was totally unprepared, even though i thought i knew how to handle it. anyway now i'm totally wracked by an ever changing combination of disappointment, confusion, excitement, ambition, despair, optimism etc etc....so i really don't know what to think haha

any ideas?


Ok....it was your first PhD interview, you messed up, it's not a big deal, move on and try better in the next one. You get better via experience and practice. Virtually no one ends up getting a place or job from their first interview, unless as you said it's via an internship or you already have a foot in the door. Get back on the horse, and start looking for other opportunities.

I'm a little perplexed to know why do you think 30 a PhD will not be viable or useful? If you have this attitude now, you'll never survive 3/4 yrs of a PhD because the stall in your career will bother you too much. You do a PhD because it is USEFUL to your career, if it's not useful, don't do it.


======= Date Modified 12 May 2009 13:44:21 =======
======= Date Modified 12 May 2009 13:43:04 =======
OK, I don't mean to be rude but you said you were unprepared. I wouldn't mind betting that's why you messed up! Its not that your "a loser" and so on, so don't beat yourself up about it. ;-)

I think if you haven't been interviewed in 5 years, I would say have a practice run in front of someone. I know how you must feel, though. I've messed up no end of interviews yet somehow I still managed to get on a Masters course and now I am going for a PhD!! And I've learned to prepare well so my interview technique has improved a lot over the past year. I reckon some time spent on deciding on what you would say for the obvious questions, a little prep on what you want on say on your motivation and a practice interview should help.(up)


======= Date Modified 17 May 2009 21:31:06 =======
My first PhD interview was awful. I prepared, but in the wrong way. They asked a simple question and I had brain freeze and they refused ot move on until I had answered it. I knew halfway through that there was no way I would get the place (I would have questioned their wisdom had they offered it to me) and I toyed with the idea of offering to leave to spare us all any further embarrassment.

My second interview went a lot better - I had done more appropriate preparation. The way in which the rejection came lead me to believe that I was shortlisted and only unsuccessful because a higher ranked candidate accepted the place.

My third interview went really well. It was a relaxed affair with the right amount of challenge and comfort. I came out thinking I had done well, and was offered a place shortly thereafter.

The morals?
1. Practice
2. Prepare adequately and appropriately
3. Persist

Quote From tbfa100:

i found the preparation and the writing of my research proposal so rewarding that i've got a taste for it now and want to do it - partly because the subject matter was exactly my field of interest and knowledge.

Excellent. That gives you good grounding for pursuing the idea of doing a PhD, and a good basis from which to approach other supervisors/apply for other projects.


Well considering that you wish to study at this particular University, in this particular field I would suggest to give it a 2nd try.
You did not mention giving wrong answers to the questions or just saying stupid things right? You were silent, well thats not a positive sign either
but you can work with this! Calling them or better having a chat about this day could give you a 2nd chance. You can simply state that you were nervouse but that the 3 months you spent on doing the research (could also state which aspect you liked most) showed you that you are born to do it (...might be a bit exaggerated ;))...blabla...

Do not give up on the first try, many people do so for a main reason: The shame of facing the situation/people again.
In case they say no go on and do look for other posibilities.
If I wouldn't be so stubborn I wouldn't have got some opportunities in my life...well and of course also some negative experience ;-)


thanks for the replies, they're really helpful. actually i think i explained myself badly - i did LOADS of preparation, knew all my stuff back to front, was totally immersed in it but basically misread the situation when i was in there. in retrospect it was an opportunity to tell them as much as possible about me, and there was really no need to be nervous...but in january i hadn't even been looking or thinking about it seriously, especially not somewhere at such a high level and so i was probably in a different position to people who have been working diligently towards this for years, and who have worked their way towards such a big challenge, unlike me. it's like you're kicking a ball around in the park, thinking that probably you ought to get off your ass and work a bit harder when suddenly man united turn up and say 'we think you're really good, would you like to trial for us?'. in that respect i had the closest thing to a 'foot in the door' because they contacted me on the strength of the work that i've been doing, rather than me going for them. so i feel really stupid for messing it up because i had a kind of head start and still messed it up..

anyway i mean it was positive overall because i definitely want to do it - i know that for sure because i discovered whilst preparing how satisfying i was finding the work and the thinking. i love working alone on a research project and those are the aspects of my current work that i enjoy the most and have been enjoying for the past two and a half years. and the subject area is precisely what i want to do. it's just a total pain in the ass basically because i have to hope something else gts funded in the same area next year....had i had a go elsewhere before and messed it up, when i went for this one i'd have known better what to do in the interview and maybe not missed out

anyway like i say, cheers. in january this was a distant world that i was distantly thinking about and now i know i really want it....but as a result the learning curve is steep and painful!