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Worst PhD interview experience 😥😥

Hi, as a head of Department I have participated in many, many selection inzerviews. Let me assure you that selection committee members often do not read the application very carefully. Thus, you will get a lot of spontaneous *unprepared* questions. This means that THEY are also unprepared. They may also ask you weird questions to see how you handle unexpected questions or your own lack of knowledge. Do not feel bad about it, see it as a training situation. Write down carefully what they have asked and how you would respond now with better preparation. In that way, you reflect systematically on the experience - and during any future interview you will profit from this exercise because you are better prepared. We also advise our students to work through one of the many books or blog posts on the 100 most important interview questions. Then you are better prepared than 95% of all other candidates.
Thus, use your experience to learn, this will reduce your bad feelings substantially.
All the best,
Sven Hendrix

Is your supervisor killing your self esteem?

Dear Shatha,
my early career in science was terrible. I see some parallels with your story. There is a good chance that your supervisor is a severe narcicist and that he really, really does *not* care about you - but only for himself. From my own experience, I learned, that you will immediately feel better when you leave a toxic environment. Maybe you have a reactive depression because you stayed in a toxic work environment for too long.
You will need quite some time to recover from a toxic work relationship but the good news is: you can. Finding a good counselor may increase your recovery. But the most important advice is: if you are in a toxic work environment, get out of there as soon as possible.
One last thing: be prepared - narcicists will not easily let you go, because your misery pleases their ego. If he suddenly offers you a great job opportunity - do *not* accept it and leave, otherwise you will prolong your misery.
I hope this helps,
Sven Hendrix

Lost passion for my research...

Hi, I am sorry that you feel like that. I think a PhD should be a time of inspiration and learning.
Just a few quick thoughts:
1. If you stay in this job and feel miserable, you are not doing yourself or your supervisor or colleagues a favor. If you can: quit - or find a better PhD as soon as possible. You should *not* do it only because you feel guilty.
2. If you have to stay for monetary reasons, make your project more interesting for yourself. Find those aspects that you like and try to pivot the project into a direction you like by making constructive suggestions and help your supervisor to make this project great.
3. Finally, think about how you could qualify yourself to be the best candidate for this project AND to prepare yourself for the career you want afterwards. This may reignite your motivation because you are preparing your future career and you get more positive feedback right now.
I hope this helps,
Sven Hendrix

Post-PhD: I feel like a complete failure

Dear Jenny,
I am so sorry that you feel like that. A PhD should be a period of inspiration and learning - including a lot of work of course :)
I have heard similar stories quite often during my career counseling activities for our Doctoral School and for my blog smartsciencecareer.com.
Many young scientists suffer from imposter syndrome - in particular when they have not been educated in fancy methodologies. This feeling is normal and many senior scientists still have this feeling :)
But you should not feel like a failure and stay in this state of mind.
One core problem is the feeling of helplessness.
The best strategy to overcome this feeling is to make a plan and take actions that are under your control. This will immediately increase your self confidence.
The first and most important question is: Do you really want to pursue a career in academia?
If you apply now for a postdoc, you MAY learn some great technologies that qualify you for a career in academia (= becoming a professor) provided that you also publish very well and raise quite some grant money.
However, if you have already decided that academia is not the right career path for you, it can be bad for your soul and your finances to add a postdoc period to your previous unpleasent PhD experience.
If you want a nice or great job *outside* academia, you should make a list of several potentially attractive jobs, go to LinkedIn, find some people who do this job and ask them for advice. Most people are helpful and love to talk about themselves. With this feedback you know much better what you really want and how to qualify yourself - and you DO something to gain more clarity (action = control = reduced helplessness).
I hope this helps,
all the best,
Sven Hendrix