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Interview Questions you may encounter (Feel free to add some)


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I have been collecting possible interview questions, and I thought it may be useful to share. Please feel free to add some of your own. The more questions we can generate the better off we are. Do note that some of these I lifted from other threads and websites. Some questions are obviously redundant. I also didn't get a chance to thematically group them yet.

-Tell me about yourself

-What are your research interests?

-What are your goals? What are your future plans?

-What do you know about my research? (This seems important)

-How did you get into emotion research?

-What is the most compelling study you have done?(figure this out)

-Tell me about your research background?

-Tell me about this aspect of your CV.

-Tell me about the publication on your CV.

-How did you deal with the revise & resubmits?

-How do you approach the writing process?

-Why do you want to go here?

-Do you have any questions? (generate as many questions as possible)

-Rank the research process you are most comfortable with 1 (not comfortable) and 10 (very comfortable). (Coming up with idea, generating the hypothesis, collecting data, data analysis, and publication).

-Why should we take you and not someone else?

-What do you think are the most important trait for researchers?

-What theories/framework/models about emotion/well-being/stress excite you the most?

-What authors have you read recently?

-How would you manage deadlines?

-If I came to your office what would I find on your desk?

-Why do you have such a low GPA? (flaws in your application)

-Why did it take you so long to graduate?

-Tell me about Project X (be able to explain it in 2-5 sentences).

-What are your strengths?

-What are your weaknesses?

-If you're accepted to graduate school, what are your plans?

-Why did you choose an academic career?

-What do you want to know about our program?

-Why did you choose to apply to our program?

-What other schools are you considering (mention comparative programs)?

-In what ways have your previous experience prepared you for graduate study in our program?

-Any questions?

-What do you believe your greatest challenge will be if you are accepted into this program?

-In college, what courses did you enjoy the most? The least? Why?

-Describe any research project you've worked on. What was the purpose of the project and what was your role in the project?

-How would your professor describe you?

-How will you be able to make a contribution to this field?

-What are your hobbies?

-Explain a situation in which you had a conflict and how you resolved it. What would you do differently? Why? (Job talk and menstrual cycle incident. Handling an RA)

-Describe your greatest accomplishment? What do you feel proud of the most?

-What are your career goals? How will this program help you achieve your goals?

-How do you intend to finance your education?

-What skills do you bring to the program? How will you help your mentor in his or her research?

-Are you motivated? Explain and provide examples?

-Why should we take you and not someone else?

-What do you plan to specialize in?

-What do you do on your spare time?

-What can be determined about an application at an interview?

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**Why aren't you studying (something from your other major)?

 

My two majors are psych and econ; I was asked why I wasn't interested in behavioral economics or decision making.

 

**Why didn't you use (flawed method) for your thesis?

 

This was a sneaky question. My data violates assumptions of independence, so this interviewer was making sure that I wasn't just following my advisor's instructions.

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O haha that's just an example from my own experience. I thought I removed that. I committed an academic faux paux when I suggested removing women from a cortisol analysis because there was no data on their menstrual cycle which I thought added noise to the data. Although my point was valid, I should have expressed it more tactfully.

The RA incident was dealing with an assistant who was consistently late.

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I think its also important to have a list generated of questions you want to ask the programs you're interviewing with. I've heard a couple of stories of my friends going into interviews where the first question they were asked was, "what are your questions for us" and they had to lead the entire interview session. Here's what I've generated on my list so far:

 

1. What do you think makes the program here stand out from other schools?

2. How often do students typically communicate with their mentor?

3. Do students typically take classes during the summer?

4. What are some of the other students in your lab currently working on?

5. What sort of classes will I have the opportunity to take? What classes do you typically teach?

6. What kind of funding is available for students? Is it guaranteed/for how many years/how are slots determined/etc.

For the Clinical folk:

7. When do I being actual clinical work? What sorts of settings would I have the opportunity to work in?

8. When do students typically take qualifying exams? What are they like? etc. 

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About the dreaded 'What other programs are you applying for?' question.

I was asked and answered honestly: I applied for a few programs in the US, and am interviewing for two of them. I will decide if I want to apply for schools in Europe as well later on, when I hear whether I got into US programs or not. This is possible because deadlines are staggered. 

Do you think I revealed too much? Should I change my answer for my next interview?

I mean, how honest is too honest? :wacko:

 

And, I know it's little bit off topic, but: is there any non native english speaker here? 

If so, do you also have the impression that your level of english drops shockingly during interviews :unsure:?

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I think its also important to have a list generated of questions you want to ask the programs you're interviewing with. I've heard a couple of stories of my friends going into interviews where the first question they were asked was, "what are your questions for us" and they had to lead the entire interview session. Here's what I've generated on my list so far:

 

1. What do you think makes the program here stand out from other schools?

2. How often do students typically communicate with their mentor?

3. Do students typically take classes during the summer?

4. What are some of the other students in your lab currently working on?

5. What sort of classes will I have the opportunity to take? What classes do you typically teach?

6. What kind of funding is available for students? Is it guaranteed/for how many years/how are slots determined/etc.

For the Clinical folk:

7. When do I being actual clinical work? What sorts of settings would I have the opportunity to work in?

8. When do students typically take qualifying exams? What are they like? etc. 

 

 

These are great questions. I would add the following:

 

"What specific qualities do you look for in a potential graduate student?"

"Where do you see your research program in five years?"

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I've head that some applicants are asked to propose a project.

Do you think the proposal should be viable for the lab you are applying to? Or just related "enough"?

Also, I know some people included project proposals in their SOPs. I was not on of them, but if you are, would you riff on what you had already written? Or come up with something new entirely?

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I've head that some applicants are asked to propose a project.

Do you think the proposal should be viable for the lab you are applying to? Or just related "enough"?

Also, I know some people included project proposals in their SOPs. I was not on of them, but if you are, would you riff on what you had already written? Or come up with something new entirely?

My instinct would be that if you know in advance who is interviewing you (presumably a POI), you shoud answer this question with something that fits into their lab.  That would show that you (a) Know what they are already doing, (b ) Have prepared for the interview, and © Will fit in well.  In fact, I actually think being prepared with some ideas about how you could riff on what they already doing to fit it into your interests is a really good idea -- it may give you more to talk about when the interview turns to your research plans, even if they don't ask for a "proposal." 

 

Now, if you can't fit any projects that interest you into what they are already sort of doing, I wouldn't try to shoe-horn it in.  It's important for you to also get information about how your interests fit in.  So I'd suggest proposing something that interests you -- just see if anything that interests you would be a natural extension of a current project (this may give you some good ideas for your proposal anyway).

 

edited to remove autosmiley...

Edited by Angua
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The toughest question I got, right off the bat, was "So, is there anything I should know about you that isn't in your application?"

 

My response was a slightly more elaborate version of "Um.....no?"
 

I really didn't feel like there was anything I needed to explain or anything that I left out, so I didn't know how to respond.  It threw me off a bit, so it may be good to have an answer ready for this.

 

Also, all of the informal phone/skype interviews I've done so far (n=5) wanted me to ask them questions much more than they asked me questions.  Just something to keep in mind.  I thought I would have a chance for a few questions; I wasn't expecting it to drive the interview.  The formal interviews will likely be different, but I won't know for a few weeks.

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I'd definitely like to hear more from people who have already gone on some interviews (official/phone/Skype)

What were the toughest/most unexpected questions?

How much did your knowledge if your area coke into play? Knowledge of your POI's work?

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I'd definitely like to hear more from people who have already gone on some interviews (official/phone/Skype)

What were the toughest/most unexpected questions?

How much did your knowledge if your area coke into play? Knowledge of your POI's work?

 

1. I already posted one specific tough one above, but in general, the toughest to me were things like "tell me about yourself" or "what should I know."  I also found it difficult to answer one professor who asked if I was more interested in her work or her colleague's work, since I had applied to both.  I told her honestly that I was interested in both, but if I had to pick one, I believed that her colleague's work was more closely aligned with my research interests.  I'm pretty sure I shut that door on her as a possible advisor, but it would be worse to lie and then not have a chance with the professor I was more interested in.

 

2. That varied by professor a lot (I have interviewed by phone/skype with 5 profs from 3 schools). Most assumed that I knew the basics of their work and the research area.  One in particular was asking me all about specific articles he had written, and if I had read them - I told him the truth, that I had read the abstracts but not full articles.  He said "you should read them," and I don't know if he meant "you should have read them first" or just what he said.  So be familiar with them just in case.  This same professor asked a lot of specific concepts and theories in psychology (e.g. cognitive dissonance and other more specific things), not to test me, but to know how much he had to explain in talking about what he was researching.  The more you know offhand, the better you look.  Once again, I advocate honesty - if I had pretended to know about a topic that I didn't, I would not have been able to continue the conversation intelligently, because he would have assumed knowledge I didn't have.

 

Also, about the notebook, I started taking notes (simple and short, not verbatim) on my later phone interviews.  I wish I had done that for the first couple, since I can't remember if certain things were covered and don't want to look bad by asking again.

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Also, about the notebook, I started taking notes (simple and short, not verbatim) on my later phone interviews.  I wish I had done that for the first couple, since I can't remember if certain things were covered and don't want to look bad by asking again.

 

This is an especially good point.  I always take a notepad into interviews with me, and although it can be hard to take good notes in an in-person interview, on the phone it is really helpful to take notes.  Later, you will remember the adrenaline rush more than the actual information you may have learned, and it's great to be able to go back over it with a clearer head.  Even at an in-person, jot down things when you can, but certainly take the first chance you have alone after the interview to make notes while everything is still fresh in your mind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This same professor asked a lot of specific concepts and theories in psychology (e.g. cognitive dissonance and other more specific things), not to test me, but to know how much he had to explain in talking about what he was researching.  The more you know offhand, the better you look.  Once again, I advocate honesty - if I had pretended to know about a topic that I didn't, I would not have been able to continue the conversation intelligently, because he would have assumed knowledge I didn't have.

 

At one of my interviews, I definitely felt like I was being quizzed on my knowledge of specific theories. For one, I was honest that I had read about it, but I didn't have a good enough grasp on it to apply it to the situation she suggested. She explained it to me very quickly and clearly, and I was able to apply it to the situation right away, but I am worried that it hurt me that I didn't know the theory well enough. I am applying to do research in a field that really interests me, but none of the psych classes at my college cover it, so I don't have a very deep theoretical background aside from the articles I have read on my own. I have studied up for my next interview, but I really hope I don't get anymore questions like that.

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One of the graduate students asked me "what is the weirdest thing you've ever done"? I have been thinking about it since and I still don't have a good answer (that is interview appropriate). I think I have a high threshold for "weird", as I'm sure I do really weird things that I just classify as nerdy or organized. I asked him what the weirdest thing he had done was, and he said streaking. I didn't think streaking was weird at all. I'm pretty sure all the "cool" kids went streaking at some point in college.

 

Guess I should go out and do something weird in the next 2 days (before my next interview), just in case that question comes up again :-)

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Thanks for compiling this list. It really helped me. My interviews were blessedly to the point and very much short conversations. What really helped was practicing the responses to the big questions - research interests, experience, education, ethics, with a webcam and recording myself. I noticed some important things that I was able to correct (like I frown when I'm thinking which comes off as looking unenthusiastic/disinterested).

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Guess I should go out and do something weird in the next 2 days (before my next interview), just in case that question comes up again :-)

 

Heh. I can see the headlines now.  "Would-be psychologist arrested in flaming penguin incident: I did it for the interview!"  :rolleyes:

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