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What are phone interviews like?


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Hi everyone,

Out of curiosity, what are phone interviews like (in general)? Does the interviewer usually ask you to describe your own project and interests? They won't ask obscure questions from text book studies like "can you tell me the difference between blah blah and blarg blarg?".

Any other tips? Thanks!

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Mine was mostly about my research so far, and my goals for grad school.

Actually, that all came after a 10-minute conversation about the inauguration (interview held on the evening of Jan. 20th), and my current (kind of quirky, not that relevant to the field) job. It lulled me into feeling pretty relaxed, and then along came the tough questions about the implications of the studies I've worked on so far. He had very clearly read my writing samples in detail, which was a little daunting, but overall it was a pretty positive experience.

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I have had a couple, and they were pretty similar. The format was 1) explain your research interest, what it means, and why it matters; 2) why do you want to go to this program (and one asked what specific research questions I would like to explore with her if I went there)?; 3) do you have any questions for me? I think in between 1 and 2, one of them asked me to explain a particular project I've been working on.

To address your worry, they were not at all about assessing my general knowledge of obscure trivia or anything like that. Just have articulate, concise explanations of your interests and projects, and you will be fine.

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I've had two phone interviews thus far. Both lasted about 25 minutes, one of them was a conference call with two profs (all interviewers were in my specific subfield).

The first question everyone asked: why do you want to go to our school? Then they wanted me to describe my thesis and current projects, though one only wanted the headlines and one asked for details and any new conclusions from the ongoing work. They all wanted to know what kind of work I'd be interested in continuing doing in the future, which of the 4 projects I've worked on I liked most, etc. After about 5-10 minutes of this, they described their program and current research done at the dept (I tried to sound really excited and to comment every time I thought I'd be interested in collaborating with someone). Finally they asked me if I had any questions -- I had prepared a bunch of questions and was very glad I asked each and every one of them, even ones that were discussed on the website (mostly about funding), since I always got more info than was posted online.

All in all it felt like a two-way interview with them trying to impress me as much as I was trying to impress them. I eventually left both interviews feeling better about my match with the departments than I had beforehand. I can now say that I was overly stressed about the whole thing when in reality the conversation flowed naturally with everyone accommodating my occasional stutters and "sorry, could you repeat that please"s.. heh.

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