Jump to content
xanaxANDcoffee

Interview: what to ask a professor who did not pick me?

Recommended Posts

Hi,

So the situation is, I was invited to the interview by a faculty that I wrote on my personal statement as a second-choice mentor. It was surprising considering that I only contacted the first-choice mentor and spent several sentences on PS why we would be a great fit, but only less a sentence on a second-choice mentor. Anyway, I'm very grateful and super-excited to be there because this university was one of my top choices. However, I am concerned about what to say and what to ask the first-choice mentor on PS.

Actually, I experienced this same situation last time. Last year, I was invited to the interview by a new professor who was not on the webpage yet. Although the fit was amazingly great (we had almost exactly the same research interests), I was somewhat disappointed because the professor I wanted to be my mentor was a so-called "big guy" in my field and did so many amazing research. In contrast, the professor who invited me was just out of grad school and had no grants. I know I shouldn't have shown this disappointment in my interview, but I was so nervous and stupid that I made so many terrible mistakes. For example, when I was asked about the research ideas by the professor who invited me, I told to the professor that with this and this idea, we could collaborate with the professor X (the big one), and I felt that you guys' interests overlap a lot, blah blah blah... Yes, a whole nightmare... I still hit my head to a wall when I'm reminded of this. Of course, I was rejected, and that was the only interview I had. So, I had to start all over again this year, and I don't, NEVER, want to repeat the same mistake.

So, now I know what I should not do, but I still don't know what to do. It is possible that I will not be matched up with that professor, but probably will be because of our shared interests and we will meet in other socializing settings throughout the interview days. I'm aware that I should show my deep gratitude and interests to the faculty who invited me, and I'm preparing that. In addition to that, I would appreciate your ideas and suggestions on what questions I should throw to the first-choice faculty or the stance I should take while I'm talking to the faculty, etc. Thanks a lot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you also being interviewed by the first choice professor? If not, forget about him/her and concentrate on the person who did choose you. Try to go into this interview focused and open to working with #2, instead of still fixated on #1. Even if you don’t make the same mistakes as last year, faculty can tell when you aren’t really interested.

Be pleasant to #1 if you happen to meet them and maybe ask some general questions about the program or research area. They probably don’t remember speaking with you and it’ll be no different than any other interview. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, PsycUndergrad said:

Are you also being interviewed by the first choice professor? If not, forget about him/her and concentrate on the person who did choose you. Try to go into this interview focused and open to working with #2, instead of still fixated on #1. Even if you don’t make the same mistakes as last year, faculty can tell when you aren’t really interested.

Be pleasant to #1 if you happen to meet them and maybe ask some general questions about the program or research area. They probably don’t remember speaking with you and it’ll be no different than any other interview. 

This advice is pretty spot on.

I had the same thing happen to me for a program. It was sad when my first choice POI said that she wasn't planning on taking students  after all, however, she was kind enough to put me in touch with another lovely PI with matching interests. To be honest, I am a better match with this last PI, so things worked out great. 

But yes, do show enthusiasm for this POIs lab and research (if it's honest, of course) so they can see that you want to work with them. Ask questions, get a feel for their mentorship style, try and see how you connect. For the first POI, I think just having general questions about the program, training, placements would be just fine. It sounds like you're so much more prepared this time. 

Best of luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.