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PhD Interview Questions

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❶Obviously your response should be relevant to the occasion.

Jennifer Smith, University of Pennsylvania

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Interview questions about your PhD project
Interview questions about you

And the cat is asleep on top of the papers. It might seem strange for your panel to ask about what your post-PhD plans. And graduation is at least three years away in any case; should you really have thought that far ahead?

Asking about your future plans is a great way to check this. Universities want to recruit PhD students responsibly and provide the kinds of skills and training they actually need. If your post-doctoral plans are to apply for a post-doc, say so. Research training can prepare you for a range of career paths. An appreciation of these will impress your interview panel. A well-worn question, but a great opportunity to reflect on your abilities - and opportunities for further development during your PhD.

In practice, this means giving solid examples for strengths and showing how they relate to the PhD project you have in mind. If the panel is asking you about strengths and weaknesses, they want you to identify and reflect on both. Be honest about the things you find challenging, but identify them as training needs and say how you expect to improve upon them as part of your PhD.

This question and its answer can be part of an invitation to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as above. But, you may be asked about training needs more specifically. If the university offers a series of training modules, mention them. You might also want to refer to any discussion of your aims and aspirations with a doctorate. A PhD is a training process, not a three-year exam.

For funded places or other competitive projects , this is the time for you to really prove that you are the best student for this PhD. But expand upon what the panel has already read. Say what it is that interests you about it. Compare it to similar opportunities if appropriate and explain your particular choice. Refer to your research proposal and take the opportunity to discuss and expand upon it.

Depending on how the question is phrased you may also find yourself talking about your choice of university at this stage — or explaining why your previous work makes you a good fit for this particular PhD see below. You might still be asked about your suitability for a self-proposed PhD in Arts or Humanities, for example. This is another way for your interviewers to assess those all-important motivation and commitment factors.

Whatever your situation, this is a good place to talk a bit about your previous work at undergraduate or Masters level. The panel already knows the grades you received, but now you have the chance to talk about what you actually did on those degrees. Show passion and give examples. If an undergraduate module on gothic literature inspired you to propose a PhD on an under-researched aspect of eighteenth-century culture, say so.

If your Masters has given you skills in exactly the kind of statistical analysis required by this doctorate, mention that. This is another fairly popular question topic. It might form part of a discussion of your strengths, weaknesses and training needs. Or you might be invited to speak more specifically about the challenges involved in your project.

All projects involve their own potential pitfalls and complications. If you are asked this question — and are prepared for it — this is a great chance to get a leg up on the competition.

Impact essentially refers to the measurable effects of research outside academia. This is particularly important if your project is funded. The money supporting your studies will probably have come from public revenues via a Research Council studentship or from a large charity or trust. Those organisations will want to make sure their investment is worthwhile.

These could be educational workshops, policy guidance, etc. Arts and Humanities PhDs can have impact too. Think about the ways in which you could take part in public engagement teaching people about local history or archival resources they might not be aware of and ways you could partner with local schools, or even media companies producing documentary work. This question is obviously more likely in interviews for non-funded PhDs.

It would be somewhat strange for a university to ask you about funding for a project that carries a full studentship. Self-funding students will obviously need to go into more detail here.

Yet the panel will want to be sure that you understand the cost involved in doing a PhD and have some kind of plans in place. Preparing for these kinds of questions is actually quite easy. Read up on your prospective university, department and supervisors. Feel free to mention other aspects of the university that appeal to you — its reputation, its alumni, even its location — but keep the main focus on the fit between your work and their research environment. Whatever else your panel asks, you can be pretty sure a question about your choice of university and department will crop up at some point in a PhD interview.

Most obviously you can talk about the university and its research. This is also an opportunity to reiterate your awareness of the wider research context for your project. If other departments or laboratories are undertaking related work, mention that. Say what attracted you to this university in particular and what you hope to achieve as one of its students. If your PhD is part of a structured Doctoral Programme as is increasingly likely you can touch on any training and development opportunities it includes.

Does the university hold a unique archive? Say how it might support your investigations. Show that you know about them and are interested in using them as relevant. Universities spend a lot of money on facilities and resources.

They want students — particularly postgraduate researchers — who will make use of them. PhD candidates are more than just students. You may even publish some of your research independently, or alongside your supervisor. This means that your potential contribution to a department or laboratory is, in many ways, just as important as what it can offer you. Talk about your experience academic or professional and outline your ambitions. Your PhD interview will probably end with an invitation for you to ask your own questions of the panel.

Asking good questions demonstrates your motivation. Here are a few good questions to considering asking at your PhD interview. They include ways to express enthusiasm for your project, as well as some useful inquiries to make for yourself:.

Focus on the things that would concern you as a student actually doing the PhD in question, but avoid trivial topics. For example, you have an excellent opportunity to:. Need urgent help from qualified dissertation writers? No doubt, you are at the right place to receive quick and efficient assistance. What do we need to meet all your requirements and create an outstanding paper that deserves only high grades?

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PhD Dissertation Topics Great PhD Dissertation Topics to Get that Degree A dissertation is a requirement for students to obtain a doctoral degree in their field of choice.

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