Shortlisted for a PhD Interview


Hey everyone, thank you for taking the time and reading my thread. I was shortlisted for a PhD I applied a few days ago and next week I have to do an interview which will consist of a presentation, questions from the committee and where they will explain something extra regarding the project.

The presentation will consist on some general info about me, my background, my previous research experience that can help me with that specific project, my strong and weak points regarding the project, why I chose that specific position and why that specific university.

I am nervous because the topic of the PhD is fairly new to me and I already stated that in my cover letter so I dont really know how to respond to my former research experience which will help me with that project. Now I am anxious actually and I have difficulties answering to everything.

Is there any suggestions that can help me do good in the interview even though I dont have knowledge on that topic yet and do not have any former experience regarding it? Thank you !


Congrats on getting shortlisted for an interview. You've got some time to do a bit of reading around the project and make some slides that make you seem like an ideal candidate :) Even though you might not have directly transferable experience, you'll probably be surprised at how things are related and transferable once you brainstorm. They have seen your application and obviously think you meet the standard. Some of the interview will just be asking you things that you've already told them in the application. At least mine was. Do some prep, be confident, and try and enjoy the experience!

Avatar for rewt

You can still talk about your previous research experience even if it isn't relevant. There are a lot of fundamental research skills that are transferable across fields. You can talk your original idea, how you developed it, how it fit into a wider context (lit review), what you, how you analysed the data, was it successful, what you would have done differently. The method on how you tackle your research question can be very insightful.

You mention that the topic is fairly new to you, then do some cramming. They aren't expecting you to be an expert but you should have some insights and be able to talk about areas/topics that interest you. If they challenge you in the interview about the topic, be honest and say you don't know. They can smell BS a mile away and respect you if you are honest about your limitations.



My PhD is interdisciplinary between two fields, one of which I am comfortable with and the other I had little experience in. So for my interview they asked me to do a 10 minute presentation on a specific topic from the discipline I had little experience of. Talking to my supervisors later, they didn't think my lack of experience was a huge problem as long as I could put in the work/had the capability to learn about the second field with time. They wanted me to show that I had read and understood enough to have the potential to make that part of the PhD useful.

Maybe they want something similar from you?