Guide for an interview for Masters/PhD position
A brief guide for those who are going to appear in an interview for Masters/PhD position. Those who will be appearing for a job interview can also benefit from this. Please note that interview is all about how well you present yourself, and a good interview can be the turning-point of your career.
1. Read all the relevant documents such as your publications, thesis, CV, letters of motivations/SOP, project reports etc in detail. You must know everything about your academic journey such as the techniques used in your research projects, results obtained, courses taken and so on.
2. Get to know about the scholarship/position you have applied to. You must know about whom you will be working with, your potential role in the project, and your suitability and enthusiasm for that particular position.
3. Utilize all the resources to know about the position you are being interviewed for. Go through the research papers, websites of the professor/research group. You can also contact other graduate students working in that lab or even the program co-coordinator if you need any information.
4. Try to find genuine connections between yours and professor’s work. Brainstorm about how you are the most suitable candidate for this position. Your knowledge, keen interest and genuine curiosity for the subject will present you as a suitable candidate. Avoid bragging about your abilities and skills. Just show it through examples/achievements in a humble yet compelling and graceful way.
5. Be very clear about your ambitions and future goals and how this particular position will help you grow as a person and how will it assist you in your career.
6. Get to know about your strengths and weaknesses. If there is a discrepancy in your academic profile (such as low grades), try to come up with a reasonable and honest justification for that.
7. If you don’t know answer to any question, just politely tell them that you are not sure about this. Do not come up with a guess or a random answer; this would be a very silly mistake. There is no shame in not knowing something. I had a 51 minute interview with a panel of 4 professors for a Marie Curie position and there were many questions I did not have an answer to. I was just honest and ended up getting the offer.
8. Try to remain calm during the interview. In many cases the professor/interviewer is more interested in knowing you as a person and not just in your technical knowledge. If you can remain calm, handle stress and take on challenges, you are likely to get hired.
9. The professors generally offers you at the end of the interview if you want to ask something. Try to avail this opportunity if you have any questions/ambiguities in your mind.
10. Perhaps the most important point: Do not look desperate for that particular position. After all, if you need a funded position/job, the employer/professor is also looking for a suitable candidate. Then why stress out? Also, do not worry about the end result. The worst thing that can happen is that you will not get the offer. If this is the case, learn from this experience and move on.
Best of luck and do let me know if you want to ask/add something. Also, those who are appearing for an interview in coming days can contact me for a mock interview or guidance.