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Skype Interview with Professor

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Hi all!

I have my first Skype interview this Wednesday with a  professor that reached out to me. I didn't know about him until he sent me an email, but he thought my research was good and thought I would be a good fit in his lab. Since I am a nervous wreck like everyone else seems to be right now, I have many questions:

  • What usually happens in Skype interviews?
  • What should I prepare for?
  • How should I prepare for this?
  • What questions should I have ready to ask the professor?
  • How should I dress? Is business causal okay?
  • How I make myself feel and look less nervous during the interview?

Any advice would be helpful! Thanks in advance!

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I had skype calls with few professors which led to a few acceptances. They mainly asked why I am interested in their program, and why do you want to pursue PhD. They also discuss about future goal of their research since it is usually not on their website. All I did was making sure I understood their research thoroughly, be able to discuss about mine, as well as understanding about the program. You can ask about their research project, how do they operate their lab, the environment in lab, or funding, rotation required in the program.

I wore a shirt, so just business casual. Make sure you have steady wifi, no disturbance. Be yourself and excited about the science. You will be fine. Good luck!

For the record: I'm chem PhD applicant this cycle

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What usually happens in Skype interviews really depends on the personality of the person/people interviewing you! Some Skype interviews tend to be informal, short, and more of a 'here is an opportunity for both of us to meet face-to-face'. In other cases, Skype interviews could be more formal, structured, and longer than what you might be expecting. Unless you have been assigned a specific time slot range (i.e. 1:00pm-1:30), I would advise one to block out an hour of one's schedule.

A good way to prepare for Skype interviews is to familiarize yourself with the work of the person who has contacted you. Even if you haven't heard of this person until the day he contacted yet, you still have time to read (or at least scroll through) the last academic piece that he has published. You don't need to be familiar with ALL of the work that this person has ever worked on, but try to know enough so that you can show this person that you are seriously interested in joining his lab.

Be prepared to discuss with this professor your research interests, the lab that he is running, and any questions you may have that could not be answered online through the department's website or graduate student handbook.

How you dress has a lot to do with the conventions of 'professionalism' in your field. In anthropology, we tend to dress casually for conferences compared to academics from other fields, such as economics or political science. What is more important is that you don't have any distracting objects in your background (i.e. a poster or a tv screen that is likely to draw the attention of the interviewer away from you during the interview). 

Lastly, interviewers are probably aware that graduate students are nervous, so don't be too hard on yourself! Just be yourself and try to enjoy the interview while it lasts!

Hope this helps.

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