Preparing for your PhD interview
Getting through to a PhD interview is a great achievement in your PhD acceptance journey and you are almost at the final stage. In this final article in our series of postgraduate application tips, Dr Ioannis Pantelidis of the University of Brighton Doctoral College has put together some of his tips for preparing for your interview.
- Rereading your statements – whether this is your own proposal or a funded project, Dr Pantelidis suggests reading all of your statements that you have sent to the doctoral college out loud; such as your CV, PhD proposal and your cover letter. The more times you read it out loud, the more you will start remembering some of the key elements that might end up being part of the questioning methods of the potential supervisors.
- Know your project inside out – If it is a funded project, know all of the different areas of the project and see how others may have researched similar projects. Be ready for any questions around the methods of the project. If you have written the project, then you have an advantage, as nobody knows this better than you.
- The interview itself – in the interview, the panel are looking for motivation and passion about the project. When looking at your CV, the panel will be looking for continuity within your previous studies and what you are trying to research. You need to also explain why your project is unique. If it is a funded project, think about what you can contribute to this funded project which is different. You will need to be able to explain the essence of your project in a simple sentence that anyone could understand.
- Key questions to expect – Dr Pantelidis notes that he always wants to know why a student wants to study at that particular university, ‘why here?’ Even if you had previously studied at the same university, the panel will likely ask why you did not decide to study somewhere else. Another question could be ‘why you?’ and why not anybody else. Here you should play to your strengths and explain why you are the better researcher and person for the project – do bring in your personality characteristics and attributes, but always refer back to your research skills and your passion for that particular project. The next question is likely to be ‘why this topic’ and why not anything else. Relate this back to your evidence of the continuity of your studies. Another question could be ‘why this particular method’ and be ready to defend it. You could also be asked ‘where do you see yourself in the future’ and they will be looking for how your PhD will impact this. You may be asked about weaknesses that may or may not be related to your project. Showing how you overcome weaknesses or how you are working on them will demonstrate how you are bettering yourself. Finally, you might be asked if you have any questions to ask the panel or supervisory team. It is highly advisable that you prepare some questions, such as about training availability, teaching opportunities, conference funding, publications, or anything that you want to know more about to demonstrate that you have a real interest.
You can see Dr Pantelidis’ full video below.