Best and worst PhD interview questions

posted
07-Jun-17, 17:59
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
I'll be interviewing potential PhD candidates soon and I've got to come up with a list of questions.

What questions did you really hate being asked or struggled to answer in your PhD interview?

What questions did you wished you had been asked?

Or, if you had have experience with interviewing for PhDs before, what questions should I avoid or make sure I should include?
posted
07-Jun-17, 18:30
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 2 years ago
I hated being asked which authors had influenced my work to date. My PhD was going to be on a completely different topic to anything I'd done thus far (which I'd imagine is a fairly common thing) and there were no suitable examples I could give - I ended up saying people the interviewers hadn't heard of.
posted
07-Jun-17, 19:31
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
My best question was when they asked me to tell them about my favorite paper (that I'd read). It had all been a bit dry and nerve wracking till then. But that question helped me to really loosen up and also show a bit of enthusiasm. I didn't feel like I was being tested, but rather that they were genuinely interested.
posted
07-Jun-17, 23:21
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 2 years ago
I actually got asked some really interesting questions about challenges that higher ed institutions in the UK are facing and what can we do to change them (Brexit, funding etc). Future plans for publishing is usually a popular question too.
posted
08-Jun-17, 16:26
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
I think it is important to include a range of different questions so that the candidate gets a chance to hopefully shine. Sorry if I am stating the obvious. It just came to me!
posted
08-Jun-17, 16:29
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
I just mean that a question one person loves another person may hate (I wouldn't want to answer questions about the challenges of Brexit myself)!
posted
08-Jun-17, 16:49
edited about 26 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
Thanks for your comments so far. Yes I will aim to include a range of questions - I'm just interested in people's opinions really. It's an interview panel so other people will have their own questions anyway and I don't know what those are.

I think the most important ones are things like, how do you cope when things get tough, or give an example of a time when you had to seek outside help for a problem you were having. I want a resilient student!
posted
08-Jun-17, 18:10
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
Must be exciting/nerve wracking to be in that position!
posted
08-Jun-17, 22:49
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
I just mean that a question one person loves another person may hate (I wouldn't want to answer questions about the challenges of Brexit myself)!


The question was about challenges that higher ed institutions are facing currently, Brexit was my personal answer. But that was for a lecturing role to be fair and not a PhD position. I am guessing for a PhD position, questions about timescales and challenging workloads could come up? Also perhaps managing your relationship with your supervisor and with other students.
posted
09-Jun-17, 09:30
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Must be exciting/nerve wracking to be in that position!


Yes definitely! In this job I am constantly doing things I never dreamed I would do. I thought a PhD was a pipe dream so it's incredible for me that I'm now lecturing, supervising u/g research projects and now interviewing PhD students! I've done interviews for staff members before in previous roles but this is the first time in academia.
posted
09-Jun-17, 18:30
edited about 14 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
ToL, I wouldn't overthink this TBH. I imagine you really want to get a feel for their undergraduate level of ability, ensure their motivation is right for doing that particular PhD and then, most importantly, allow your natural gut instinct to gauge the person in terms of whether you think you will get on with them, whether they fit in etc. Never ignore your gut instinct. IMO you want to find candidates who are enthusiastic, can show evidence of hard work when everyone else id at the pub and finally can demonstrate evidence of resilience when things go wrong. Evidence of independent thinking and working is also essential. Design your question to specifically tease out the characteristics you know are vital for success. Remember, you may not get many applicants so don't overthink.
posted
10-Jun-17, 15:45
edited about 21 seconds later
Avatar for Hanginthere
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From butterfly20:
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
I just mean that a question one person loves another person may hate (I wouldn't want to answer questions about the challenges of Brexit myself)!


The question was about challenges that higher ed institutions are facing currently, Brexit was my personal answer. But that was for a lecturing role to be fair and not a PhD position. I am guessing for a PhD position, questions about timescales and challenging workloads could come up? Also perhaps managing your relationship with your supervisor and with other students.


Amazing stuff! I am so happy for you.

With respect to questions, I was asked why I wanted to do a PhD? I know it presents to be an easy question to answer, but I sometimes still find it hard to answer almost three years into my PhD.

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