Tag Archives: #interview

Interview Dos and Don’ts

DO dress appropriately and professionally – whether this means wearing a suit or just a sensible (think visiting conservative relatives) outfit, make an effort, be tidy, and tick that “good first impression” box!

DON’T make inappropriate comments, rude jokes etc. Remember this is a professional setting, so even if you are made to feel very comfortable, watch what you say very carefully! The interview lasts from the moment you see the interviewer to the moment you are no longer in each other’s company. Even if you are not answering a formal question, or are just having a chat, you are still being assessed, so make sure you don’t say anything you wouldn’t say during an interview!


DO make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. It is important to show that you are able to think ahead and plan successfully. And on a related note:

DON’T be late! Leave at least half an hour before your appointment if you don’t know the area or building, to allow yourself time to get lost! If you know the place well, then arrive at least fifteen minutes in advance.

DO prepare. There are plenty of resources online with example questions, read them, practice answering them, and make sure you are comfortable with your answers. Look in your application for questions that might arise, make sure you can answer just about everything concerning your research!

DON’T PANIC! The panel knows you are nervous, and they expect that you might make some mistakes. If you do, don’t flail or make a big deal out of it, compose yourself and move on.



DO study up on your interviewers (if you know who they will be in advance), and make sure you know how to address them and how they are relevant to the position you are applying for!

DON’T ask your interviewers what their work is on, if you would like to talk about it, do your research, read a couple of their papers, and bring it up if relevant!

DO say if you don’t know something! They WILL know if you are making something up, and it will make you look much more unprofessional than admitting that you don’t know the answer to a question, then offering possible solutions like where you would find the information from.

DON’T take all the time in the world to answer questions! No one will be timing you (in most cases) when you are given a certain amount of time for questions, so make sure you are on the ball and aren’t wasting time. Even if what you’re saying is impressive, if you take 40 minutes to complete a 20 minute interview that will create a bad impression.

DO ask questions. You can either prepare these in advance or wing it, but having a couple of interesting questions about the post or the work is what makes a lot of interview candidates stand out. Be one of them! But,

DON’T ask stupid questions. Now while it’s true that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, there are some that you just shouldn’t be asking in an interview setting. These are anything practical to do with the position that you can find out via admin routes (hours, pay etc.) and especially anything that was already in the grant/proposal/advert. 

And anwyay, what’s the worst that could happen??



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Presentation, presentation, presentation!


Presentations……”yay!” Nobody particularly likes having to give presentations but we all have to do it at some point and you will almost definitely be asked to prepare one for your PhD interview. So Dr. Neo and I have a few tips to help you prepare.

So there are 3 different things you need to think about:

  1. What you are presenting
  2. How you are presenting it
  3. How are you presenting yourself

What you are presenting.

-Research what you are going to talk about.


– Have you narrowed the area down to the relevant bits? Nobody wants to hear the whole history of something (unless that is literally what the title of the project is – but even then you need to focus on the main bits).

-Put your own spin on it. Make sure that your point of view is expressed (with evidence to back up your opinion of course).

How are you presenting it?



–          Tone of voice. Keep it appropriate to the subject but make sure it shows your enthusiasm. Also if you tend to have a monosyllabic voice try to work on this. It is likely to make any topic sound dull and that you are not that enthusiastic about it when you rally are.

–          Choice of language. Colloquial terms are not appropriate and if you are going to use abbreviations explain them first.

–          Posture. Stand tall and face the interviewers. This will demonstrate that you are confident and that you know what you are going to say. Try not to turn your back to the interviewers for long periods of time when you are explaining graphs etc

–          Are the interviewers straining to hear you or are you too loud? Practice with some friends to get a feel for how loud you need to be.

You also need to think about your presentation slides:

–          Are they clear?

–          Too many words on each slide?

–          Appropriate images / graphs /tables etc?

–          Logical flow e.g intro à main body à summary


How are you presenting yourself?

You may think that this was all covered in the previous bit but there is more!

You also need to think about what you are going to wear. You may think that this is not really that important and that you have more important things to be thinking about, but you do need to put some thought into it. How you physically present says a lot about you as a person.

–          Without a doubt you need to dress in smart clothes. This means guys really should be in suits with a tie and guys should wear a smart shirt and skirt / trousers or dress.

–          Think about patterns and colours. This applies to girls and guys! If you wear colours that compliment each other and you haven’t put lots of different clashing patterns together then it shows that you have thought about your outfit and that you are a “well put together person”.

–          Make sure that no matter what you wear that it is clean, it actually fits you and that you have ironed it.

So to sum up my tips:

-Research your topic.

-Practice your presentation.

-Think about how you are coming across as a person.

And generally:

“Prepare to fail, don’t fail to prepare!”

Good Luck

-Dr Fran-kenstein

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