Sunday, 5 August 2018

How to Become a Doctorate: 5 Ways to Show Your Potential to the PhD Interview Board

You have a PhD interview coming up? You have drafted your research proposal and are cramming it up to be ready for all the questions asked on it.

But there are definitely some things you are unsure of and wondering "What more can the interview panel ask and want from me?" and "How can I be the best PhD candidate that they cannot let go?"

Then lets begin with

5 Ways to Show Your Potential to the PhD Interview Board

  1. Have 2 Research Proposals - All universities and departments have different formats and requirements from a PhD candidate. Some demand a lengthy 20 pages or so of research proposal. While, some want only 500 words synopsis to be submitted before interview. In either case, you first follow the procedure that the university wants you to. Then, an additional step from your side can be to draft and carry on the interview day a detailed version (anywhere from 20-30 pages) of your research proposal. The short research proposal will for the interview board to look at and get a rough idea on what the candidate wants to work on. And, the detailed research proposal which will have aim, scope, methodology, hypothesis, etc. for the interview board to see after you have left the room. Lets say they have more time to sit and go through your detailed research proposal before shortlisting. The detailed one will give them a clearer sense of the work you intend to undertake as well as they can decide better which candidate seems to be genuine and probably is very serious about his/her research.
  2. Aim is to Convince the Interview Board - You have to be thorough with your books, journals and concepts before the interview day. You have to show that you are different in front of the interview board. You have to tell them the overall idea, the shortcomings and where would you like fill the gap. Infact, you have to prove this point to them as only then they will be convinced that you are the best candidate for PhD. Try to give them a clear idea about your chosen topic and not make them confused. Tell them how you will do it and what will be the possible results from it after completion. Tell your motivation behind the topic. If you have some prior work experience on that issue, then narrate that too. The interview board will then see that you have a staying power and would bring out a good thesis.
  3. Don't Fake - If you are not able to answer any question and trying to beat around the bush, don't think the professors are fools. Say honestly that you do not know. You can say that "this issue you would like to know further and will explore in the research". Or you can say "I have heard about this topic and will try to work on it". If you try to fool the professor, he may not show his arrogance but will simply not select you. Remember, the professors are not posing as a senior but they really are seniors to you in every sense and much more knowledgeable. So, keep that in mind and speak to them. They also do not expect you to know everything because you are here for a doctorate programme, you are not a doctorate already. So, they know that you are a novice.
  4. Arrange Recommendations in Your Favour - Use your good relations and contacts from the previous universities, departments and places you have worked. To people who are in the higher position and are friendly to you, you can frankly tell them that you will be applying for XY university for PhD, and it will be of great help if they can write a recommendation letter for you. Sometimes, a written letter is also not required. Most professors know each other from all the conferences, seminars and works they have done together over the years, and a simple informal mentioning of your name and background over a meeting or telephone, can do wonders in your favour.
  5. Don't Create Too Much Pressure on Yourself - Ofcourse, after getting through your written admission test, the pressure to succeed in the interview is higher, but try to relax. I will tell you my experience. When I entered the room and sat in front of the interview board, I put so much pressure on myself and kept reminding "I have to show my knowledge", "I have to impress" and "This is my make or break moment". Rather than gaining confidence, I actually was beginning to fumble while answering questions. After 15 minutes, I could see that the interview is not going anywhere near my selection and I told myself "This is the first time and probably the last time I am sitting in this room and with these people. They are not at all satisfied and I am not getting selected". At that moment, I stopped trying hard to give an impressive answer and relaxed completely. Believe me, I began to roll out one answer after another much better and argumentative than before. Letting myself relax mentally helped me to recollect facts and other information that I knew about my topic but was probably forgetting initially. So, that's when I realized the importance of relaxed and cool mind before an important event.
So, these were my 5 tips for clearing PhD admission interview. These tips will definitely secure your place in the university.

Click to read step 6: What To Do In The 1st Year of PhD
Click to read step 4: How to Draft an Impressive Research Proposal?