I was kindly wondering how I should prepare for a Skype interview.
I have generally been preparing by talking about my research interests/past projects and then try to relate my interests to the professors' interests or past publications.
Would this be a good strategy or would you recommend that I do something else along with?
Good luck! Be yourself and be as calm and confident as you possibly can.
Til now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you...
Thanks for your advice everyone! Just as a follow up, if I am speaking to Professor A and I want to mention his/her research, do I first begin with a summary of his/her findings, the methodology used in a study....OR can I just go right ahead and mention a one-liner about the article (so the Professor knows which article im referring to) and then proceed to ask a question about the article and also some future extensions/thoughts i had about it?
Different professors have different styles and goals when they interview an applicant. So, it's hard to predict, because what could work for one professor might not work for another.
For example, in one interview I had a lot of freedom to talk about what I wanted, as much as I wanted, etc. In this case, I just waited for a good opportunity to talk about his research. When I was asked about my research interests, I mentioned how one of the papers he published would be an example of what I was talking about. This interview was really much more like a conversation instead of an interview.
But, in another example, I had an interview when the professor said clearly in the beginning that the interview was much more a formality that the school expected them to do. He wanted to check a few points, but he wasn't expected to be my advisor.
Anyway, I'm not sure how telling a professor a summary of findings or something like that would help to make you look like a stronger applicant. A good summary just means that you read the paper, and anyone can do that. A bad one may give a feeling that you didn't even understand the basics.
Asking smart questions, or proposing interesting future extensions could be a good strategy. But you'd better be sure that it is a good strategy.
"Smart" questions often aren't as smart as we think. You may get unlucky and get a professor who is a fan of the Socratic Method, turning the interview into a debate where you get less and less sure about what you're doing.
I have also seen stories about people proposing some study, and getting into trouble because of that. If you propose something, you need to be ready to defend your idea. But usually we are not good at defending an idea before doing a PhD (hopefully we get better after that).
If you say that you would like to investigate whether X causes Y, the professor may start to ask about what is your theoretical explanation for that hypothesis, or how would you measure X and Y, etc. You are not usually expected to know all of that stuff as an applicant. But since you are proposing something, you'd better be ready to answer questions about it. As this is going to be related to the research interests and experience of the professor, those questions may be hard, good, unexpected. It's not that the professor is trying to make your life harder. This is what they do as a job, look for ways to overcome the (hard) obstacles.
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