Phd Interview- Help Needed


Dear Friends,I am a Post graduate student in Germany in the field of Biomedical Engineering. I am very much interested to do Ph.D. in this field and I am searching it since last 6 months. Next week I have a Ph.D. interview here in Magdeburg and I am really excited as well as nervous about it. Frankly, This is my 4th Ph.D. interview and still I cannot figure out where I am lacking.
They have told me to be there at 12 o'clock for the interview. When I asked, do you expect me to give any presentation then reply was, it would only be a interview without any presentation. This made me more nervous. What kind of things should I be take care of during face to face Ph.D. interview. I am really interested in their project which is partly related to my past work. I would kindly like to ask for your suggestions because I really want to shine in this interview.

Many Thanks


Hello Mitbhavsar,

Thanks for posting your thread and I think I can give you some helpful suggestions;

Firstly, if the interview is for a topic already sorted and not your own research, it is always helpful to read around the topic area in depth (very in depth) as this shows you have given a lot of thought to the subject. I would consider thinking about what data collection methods could be used in this topic, are there any ethical issues etc

I would seriously think about doing a 3 year PhD plan shown in a table format on how you would think the research could go i.e year 1,2 3 etc this shows again you have given serious thought to the topic. It doesn't have to be in great detail, I just feel it looks good when you hand them a piece of paper showing you have put pen to paper (this worked for me!)

Also, think about why YOU are the best candidate, what can you give to the university and the research institute; demonstrate your qualities. Why do you want to do a PhD; is it because it 'fits' you, do you want a career in academia?

Also research the actual university, lots of people fail to get a scholarship because they do not bother to look at the university or the institute beforehand (academics do not like this!)

Hope this helps,

If I can be of any more help, let me know!



Thanks lee...that is a greats answer!


In total, I’ve had four interviews and was successful in the fourth, so there’s still hope!

Two interviews involved presentation and two did not. In those which I had to give a presentation, I was asked to give a ten minute presentation covering the following topics:

Presentation 1
- Why you have applied for this studentship
- What you have studied in the past
- What you would like to do in future
- How this relates to the project you have applied for

Presentation 2
- What you have done in the past.
- Why do you wish to undertake the project applied for
- The supervisory arrangements for this project

Seeing as you don’t need to do a presentation, these things could be asked in the interview.

The interviews I did varied considerably regarding the questions asked. One focused a lot on the work I’ve done in the past and its significance, whereas another focused ENTIRELY on the methods (perhaps because the presentation had already explained everything else).

Topics to prepare for are:

Why you want to do a PhD
Why this specific topic
Methods used and logistics
Why at this institution (I was never asked this, but perhaps because I did my BSc and MSc there too. If applying to a new institution then you might be asked this)
Your background and its relevance
Where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years

I would agree with the timeplan idea suggested by Lee. This is also useful for yourself to get your head around what you would do. Make sure it is realistic. Not lacking, but not so full of things that you could never possibly do in that time frame. My last (successful) application required this, and one of the questions was actually regarding whether I thought it would be possible to carry out a certain aspect within the time I had specified. But also bear in mind that this might not be set in stone e.g. you might start off by doing a literature review and suddenly discover that one aspect of your project has already been done etc. Be sure to include time for writing up the PhD, writing up publications, seeking ethical approval (if applicable).

Be prepared for questions such as what would you do if there was a break down in the relationship with your supervisors, do you think you might encounter any problems etc. Don’t just expect things to go swimmingly! Be honest and admit there could be difficulties with a certain aspect, but explain what you might do to reduce the likelihood or to overcome the problem.

I always find out who will be on the interview panel (if possible) and read up about their research interests and recent publications. This is useful for a number of reasons:
- If they have particularly relevant interests, you can try to emphasise this aspect to appeal to them more;
- If they don’t have relevant interests, you might try to work harder to convince this panel member that it’s an important topic;
- You can avoid pretending to know lots about something you know very little about, and later regret this when you discover one of the interviewers is an expert in the field and probably realises you had no idea what you were taking about; and
- You can avoid accidentally putting down their areas of research.

Always have a couple of questions to ask them at the end. However, be careful with these as you don’t want to ask something that makes it look like you’ve not bothered to read up on the institution, structure, topic etc.

If you are unsuccessful, always ask for feedback so you know where you are going wrong.

Best of luck!



Pumpkin ..Thanks for such a great many point which I did not care about, but now I will..