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Thread: Interview Preparation

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Question Interview Preparation

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    Hi,
    I was lurking around for a while and am so impressed with the cross pollination of ideas and facts. I have recently been invited for an interview. May I ask members to guide me on what areas should I be prepared for the interview.

    Thanks
    phdapply

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    Current student Behavioral's Avatar
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    Why a PhD?
    Why [insert area]?
    Why [insert respective program]?

    What field/line of research are you interested in (and why)?
    Where and what do you plan to be doing in 5 years?

    What is your biggest strength? Weakness?

    The biggest:
    "Do you have any questions for me/us?"

    These are the majors that I was hit with last week.

    Be as prepared as you possibly can for each of them.

  3. #3
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    Thanks

    Thanks Behavioural,
    Good guide questions to be prepared with. Any idea on how to ask when are they going to finally disclose the result?

    Thanks
    phdapply

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    Current student Behavioral's Avatar
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    I simply wouldn't ask.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Behavioral View Post
    I simply wouldn't ask.
    I don't think there would be anything wrong with asking? Knowing a ball park date can be helpful, for example, if you have other offers, but you're waiting on that particular school.

    phdapply, I'm not sure what you mean by how to ask. There's nothing to it. Just ask them directly what the approximate time frame is for them to make a decision. Of course they may not be able to tell you exactly if you have been waitlisted, and they are waiting for someone else to make a decision before moving you up the list.

  6. #6
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    3 out of 3 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    Here are some thoughts:

    1. Read through your SOP before the interview, and explicitly refer to it during the interview whenever needed. I did this and it seems to have worked out as it makes them perceive you as a person who knows his/her objectives and potentials well enough.

    2. They are VERY likely to ask you to elaborate on how and why you became interested in the fields you have indicated in your application. Be prepared to very briefly but effectively develop a research question or two. This is too what I tried and seemed to have impressed them. However, be careful to develop research QUESTIONS, not HYPOTHESES! They won't expect you to be a theorist right now. I would even say it may seem a little weird if you imply this by trying to develop a hypothesis. What they expect you, IMO, is to have questions to answer which you need to do a PhD.

    3. Avoid dueling on your technical abilities. Of course they appreciate your math skills, coursework, awards, etc. But what they are looking for is actually whether or not you know that research is far more than such credentials. Even if you don't have research experience, be prepared to appreciate the fact that one with the greatest possible scores will not necessarily make a good researcher.
    In one of my interviews they asked me "what do you believe to be your greatest challenge in your phd education?"; My answer was "the nuances of how to conduct research". I also elaborated a little on it.

    4. At the end of the interview, they will likely ask you if you have any questions. I wouldn't ask a question if you can find its answer in other resources (like their website, forums, a friend of yours who's a phd student there, etc). To ask such redundant questions is not gonna affect your chance of admission negatively. However, I suggest avoiding such questions because we all know one of their primary goals of conducting interviews is to get to know you as a person, and because this way you demonstrate that you are an organized person and you respect their time.

    5. Do not think too much into what you are going to say. Do not hesitate to politely let them know if you don't agree with them on something or if you believe a question that they have asked should be redefined.

    6. Good luck on your interview(s)
    Last edited by Soheyl; 02-21-2011 at 02:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phdapply View Post
    Good guide questions to be prepared with. Any idea on how to ask when are they going to finally disclose the result?
    phdapply
    I didn't ask this in any of my 3 interviews. But each of them told me about that in detail at the end of the interview. So, even if you plan to ask, make sure that you won't get the answer without asking.

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    Good comments so far. I've been on 5 interviews in the last few weeks an would agree with most of what's been said. Let me echo some of the earlier comments about asking when they're going to make a decision. I see absolutely no problem with this. I simply asked, when it seemed the interview was wrapping up, "when do you anticipate making a decision?" A couple of times the interviewer revealed some very important information in response to this question, aside from the date. They've told me how many other applicants they're bringing/talking to and when. They've also said at a couple of different schools, "we expect to complete the process by x date but I feel confident that you can expect an offer by ___"

    I agree with the basic questions
    Why PhD in ___?
    Why here?
    What are your research interests?
    What faculty members would you like to work with?
    What are your plans after graduating/ in X years?

    Since I'm an older applicant (36) I was asked
    Why do you want to do a PhD now?
    I was also asked about my family and marital situation

    In preparing for my interviews I found it very useful to read/reread at least one recent article from every faculty member I was interviewing with. I don't think that faculty mind if you can genuinely say, "I was reading your article on this and it got me thinking about some questions I'm interested in pursuing"

    I developed stories for all of the interview questions I anticipated. This technique has always been useful for me professionally and academically. Without going on too long I find that having natural sounding story answers prepared is really helpful for me in being concise, consistent and knowing what not to say and when to stop talking.

    One more thing. I think it's super important to get an idea of how much the professor likes to hear themselves talk as soon as you can in the interview. With those kinds of professors, I think you can simply say a few things early on that make them realize you are a good candidate and then let them go on and talk. With those kind of people I felt it was important to use some of the time they gave me for questions to hit some more of my good points that we haven't yet covered. For example, they will ask if you have any questions. I might say, "One of my goals is to have X publications in A journals during my PhD program, do you think that sounds about right?"

    Good Luck!

  9. #9
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Be sure to have questions to ask them about themselves, the program, the school, or anything else you want to know. You will have more than enough chances to ask questions and they expect you to have quite a few. Additionally, if you come away from an interview without knowing if you would like it there, then the flyout has been a waste from your end.

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    [QUOTE=

    -Since I'm an older applicant (36) I was asked
    Why do you want to do a PhD now?
    I was also asked about my family and marital situation

    -I don't think that faculty mind if you can genuinely say, "I was reading your article on this and it got me thinking about some questions I'm interested in pursuing"

    -I developed stories for all of the interview questions I anticipated.

    - "One of my goals is to have X publications in A journals during my PhD program, do you think that sounds about right?"

    Good Luck![/QUOTE]



    Thanks Piparoo, those are some really helpful tips. Had some questions,

    - What was your reply when they asked you what took u so long to decide to do a PhD?

    - Did your age have a negative or a positive impact on being a potential graduate student?

    - What advantage do you have on being a PhD students if you are married or single, have kids on don't? Can you please tell me if you were married and had kids? (Well ofcourse one should tell the truth, but I am just wondering how do the faculty think - whats going on their mind if they are trying to find if you are single or married with kids? As in, are they thinking (A) oh he has small kids, so he will not make a very dedicated PhD student OR (B) Hmm he/she already has small kids so she will not take any maternity time off and will devote all time to PhD or (C) OMG she is 36 and still single, may be she is not a likable person or if she decides to marry and have kids 'during' her PhD, that would be a waste of our time as she will be gone on maternity leave?? )

    - You said you developed stories for all the interview questions - what exact did you mean by that? What type of stories?

    - To tell them that one should have X number of publications A journals seems a bit premature to me. How can you ask that?

    Thanks a lot in advance for your answers,
    Best regards,

    RR

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