PhD Interview: Birmingham University


Dear All,

I applied for a PhD studentship at Birmingham University and have been invited to attend an interview in a weeks time. The invitation letter says that there will a lunch before the interview so that all the candidates can meet. This will be followed by a 30 miniute interview. I will also be expected to "converse" with someone in a South asian language as this is the area that the PhD will be exploring. The day will end with a tour of the school.

I've never done an academic interview before, so I'm a little in the dark about what to expect. How do PhD interviews work in general? Are they formal or informal? Are you quized on your knowledge, or asked softer questions about intentions, goals, etc.? Or both? Any help would be much appreciated!



you better watch out how you act, what you say and how you eat during the lunch beforehand too - it would be a mistake to assume they're not watching you then as well. don't want to freak you, just point something out


I agree with Frau Swantje. And make sure you don't appear to talk or act to informally. Lunch is part of the interview and observation process. Don't get to friendly or chitty chatty with any of the other candidates. They remain your direct competitors. Don't appear nervous either. Be cool, calm, confident and not sweaty.


Good luck!

My interview for my PhD wasn't great to be honest, everything in my proposal was picked up on and disected in quite an unpleasant and confrontational way. BUT, I still got it, so my advice would be to try and remain calm and unflustered, whatever they throw at you, and if you feel like you have screwed up at any point, then don't let it phase you-because everyone makes mistakes/has grey patches in their knowledge especially before they start. I've heard of some people having really relaxed/chilled out interviews, so yours may be like that, but I imagine the point is to test how well you know your area and how confident and convincing you are in speaking about it. So just try to be both. You'll be fine!


which south asian language?


Thanks for your responses! I'm doing some background reading into the subject area, although I'm not sure how indepth I should go. They have given me a copy of the research proposal which I'm going to look at in major detail. The interview is only half an hour, so I assume its going to be quite general.

e.g. Have you read up on area? Why are you interested in doing a PhD? etc

I've still got a week to prepare but I'm already getting nervous


First Question,....
"Why do you want to do a PhD"

Second Question....
"Please explain what you did in your previous degree dissertation"


By thw way good luck.

Regards Wolfe

Avatar for sneaks

I was told to mention things like RAE in my interview, to demonstrate that I knew a little bit about the academic world.

They will probably be looking for enthusiasm as you need it to get through 3 years on one project!

Good luck with your interview I am sure if you are dedicated enough to come on here for tips then you will be fine!


firstly, good luck.

i didn't have to do the lunch thing, that idea always scares me. if i was interviewing though i would want to see someone who could make small talk with the other candidates but don't give too much away and don't tell any of them you're nervous etc...

i got my phd almost entirely on enthusiasm. if you meet all the academic criteria (which you will have done to get the interview) then they're looking for that extra bit. also, i really sold my previous work as being majorally relevant! with slight twist on the emphasis this can be done most times...



I was asked what I thought a PhD is and I know a people in different subjects areas who were asked the same. I'm sure you know what you're getting yourself in for, but just in case, it's an original piece of reserach (...I went round and round in circles before blurting out something to that effect!) Good luck.


Thanks for all your responses and suggestions! This is a really supportive forum!

I've made a list of some questions and answers which I'm going to look over and I've read up on the methodology of the research proposal. However I'm gutted becuase I've managed to catch a cold, so I'm stuck in doors, whilst everyone else is outside soaking up the sun! doh! Oh well I guess it gives me more time to swot up on my interview! JOY!.....