PhD Interview Questions and Answers – 12 Things You May Be Asked

Top 10 PhD Interview Questions
  • Tell us about yourself. …
  • Why do you want to do a PhD? …
  • Why are you interested in this program? …
  • What experience makes you a good candidate? …
  • How did you develop this proposal? …
  • What difficulties would you expect to encounter during this project? …
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

PhD Interview Questions + Answers | How To Pass Your PhD Interview

#7 What makes you the right candidate for this PhD?

If you’re applying for a pre-defined PhD project, you’ll almost certainly be asked why you are the best candidate to undertake it (particularly if there’s funding available).

Remember too that some of these projects aren’t automatically funded. Their financing can depend on the quality of the student they attract, so your panel will be very keen to make sure you’re going to be ‘Dr Right’.

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.

  • I’ve been interested in this topic since the final year of my undergraduate degree. This lead to my choice of Masters and helped me pick my dissertation topic, which I really enjoyed. I’m really excited to now go on and do some sustained research in this area as a PhD student.
  • 1. Why do you think you are the right candidate for this Ph.D. program?

    Ph.D. admission committees seek candidates that will uphold institutional standards and reflect well on the program. When preparing your answer, consider any specific research you have performed that relates to the program. You may also want to describe your extracurricular activities, such as volunteer work or exchange programs.

    Example: “I completed a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science, specifically focusing on the effects of global warming on water resources in Africa. After earning my degree, I spent a gap year traveling through Africa in which I learned more about the water problems in many countries. As this Ph.D. program concerns the access and availability of alternative water resources, it strongly aligns with my previous research and my field of interest. I would like to use my research to make a difference in the lives of many groups in Africa.”

    Will I have opportunities to teach / present / publish?

    This is something else you’ll want to know for yourself, but it also demonstrates a practical approach to your PhD (and future career). A good PhD programme should offer some opportunity to teach or demonstrate towards the end of your project. Equally, you should be encouraged to communicate your research and supported in doing so.

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