Most Asked PhD Interview Questions and Answers in India [2023]

When it comes to interviews, it is essential to prepare and rehearse your answers well before appearing for it. Understanding field-related concepts, predicting certain questions, realising your strengths and weaknesses are pivotal in interview preparation.

Different forms of interview rounds should have a different set of preparation. Starting from Skype interviews on a one-to-one basis, formal interviews in a panel to providing a presentation, PhD interview questions and answers vary. This can help you not only discover where your potential lies and the surroundings that deem fit. 

Wondering how to prepare for an interview with zero ideas?  

This article will guide you about how to get placed by solving all PhD interview questions.

What are the steps to prepare for a PhD interview?

Different forms of procedure can instantly make you feel that difficult PhD interview questions are only asked. However, don’t worry as these following steps can help you perform efficiently in such interviews:

1. Preparation

Difficult PhD interview questions will seem easy once you’re done with your preparation. Make sure to perform background research regarding which program you plan to apply for. It is essential to know what makes it unique from others and what opportunities can be received from it. The projects on offer must be kept at notice with a heavy clarity as to why you should be selected for it. The key challenges must be recognised, and project topics should also be thought of.

This can also include certain sub-points which can be followed.

  • Reviewing of research proposal: A reference must be drawn from the overview as you can raise questions from it. Focus on the experience and keep instances and examples ready for the PhD interview questions.
  • Focus on the research details: Regardless of providing a great proposal, it is crucial to recognise the key points mentioned. Background knowledge must be properly known, such as research area and methodologies.
  • Gather understanding from your supervisor’s work: This can make your supervisor understand that you have performed your research efficiently and your eagerness to engage.

2. Keep ready a basic set of questions

You must be aware of certain generic questions attending such interviews:

  How can the university help to promote your work balance?

  • What can your supervisor do to advance your career?
  • What is the program mostly about?
  • What sort of resources does the University have?
  • What routine is followed in your selected program?
  • What other opportunities are available with the program?
  • Prepare Questions for the interviewer: The interview doesn’t need to be a one-way thing. You can also ask PhD interview questions to the interviewer such as the main objectives of the program, challenges that can be faced and the upcoming opportunities after being a part of it. This can also raise your chances as the interviewer would realise your interest in the program.

Our Top Doctor of Business Administration Programs & Articles

3. Answering Questions

To understand whether you have gathered enough relevant skills, you can create a flowchart to understand your areas of strength, interest and knowledge. For instance:

  1. A methodological approach to process and analyse data
  2. Problem-solving methods and skills
  3. Proper time management and organisational skills
  4. Ability to perform individually and in groups
  5. Strong communication skills
  6. Patience and tenacity while performing specific experiments

4. Follow a structure like STAR

STAR is the abbreviation for Situation, Task, Action, Result. 

Situation: Explain your current and previous experiences to point it out as a situation.

Task: Mention goals, both individually and in teamwork scenarios.

Action: These mainly include your objectives, knowledge experience, and improvement levels. 

What are the most important questions asked in a PhD interview?

Here’s a set of PhD interview questions and answers that must be kept in mind. The following are:

  • Tell Us About Yourself: This is one of the first questions that can be asked in an interview. Since it is a warmup question, the general overview can provide the interviewer with an excellent first impression. You can divide the answer into three questions:
  • Academic History: Your educational background plays a vital role because grades are necessary. 
  • Research Topic: Your research interest is vital because it would promote your liking and degree selections.
  • Why PhD: This part is the icebreaker because it would highlight your viewpoints about your future.
  • Why do you aim for pursuing a PhD?

The interviewer would be highly interested to know your motivation to undertake a PhD degree. Therefore, it is essential to understand how to answer PhD questions. Mentioning the benefits of PhD is extremely important, but it should be presented uniquely. Your answers should reflect your career aspirations as well.

  • Why did you choose this project?

Firstly, focus on the project. Have a basic understanding and engage in the topic properly.  This would showcase that you have looked into the research topic well, which can provide a good image. 

Secondly, talk about the prospects of the University- why is it unique compared to others? How can it be beneficial for your future? Make sure to frame your answers well. 

Finally, you can focus on your inspirations and areas of expertise. The works of your supervisor can also be mentioned to bring about a significant impression.

  • Why should we choose you?

You can try and summarise your academic CV and cover letter when it comes to this PhD interview question. Your primary aim must be to reassure the interviewer with the skills and knowledge to undertake a doctoral study. Maintain a set of key points mostly related to your knowledge and skills. 

  • How did you come up with this project?

The development of your research proposal is your answer to this. It is essential to maintain a thorough understanding of whatever you have planned to do. Your key aims and objectives should be clear, and how your contributions can be utilised in the field must be kept in mind. 

  • What challenges are you expecting to encounter in this project?

Provide the potential difficulties that you think you will face as an answer. If you identify them, the interviewer would understand that you are mature enough to highlight the problems. Focus on each of them separately and try to bring about hypothetical solutions for them.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

It can be considered a standard interview question requiring you to understand your strongest and weakest links. First, list your strengths and then move on to your weaknesses. However, don’t forget to mention that you are working on your weak points continually to improve both as a learner and professional. 

  • Do you have any questions for us?

This is a tricky PhD interview question as most replies to this is usually no. However, to show that you have done your research put forward certain questions such as the following:

  1. Is there any specific development of partnerships available in this project?
  2. What are the supervision arrangements?
  3. Is there any scope for teaching within the department?
  4. What unique offers shall I receive after being a part of this project?

Summing Up

PhD interview questions can get confusing and requires a boost of confidence before the interview sessions. Therefore, it is important to familiarise yourself with the best practices and tips for PhD interviews.

As a working professional, if you are looking at adding Doctor title to your name, we would recommend DBA over PhD. A DBA program allows you to do the same and has a flexible industry-oriented approach rather than an academic approach taken by PhD. However, DBA won’t help you to earn a professor title at a UGC-approved institution since that will require a PhD.

upGrad’s Global Doctor of Business Administration can be an ideal fit for you. This course will not only help you with positive career growth but also international academic support. This program will take place for over 36 months, with 10 hours per week. Other key highlights include: 

  • A design for working professionals
  • SSBM Alumni Status
  • No Cost EMI Option
  • EduQua Qualified
  • One to one thesis supervision

Do all PhD applicants get interviews in their selection process?

There are certain institutions that do not carry out interviews. However, this has become the norm these days.

Can you fail in an interview?

If a non-academic interview is treated on an academic basis, there is a high chance that you will not be selected. Those 90 seconds plays a crucial role, and it is vital to be transparent and professional at times.

What other tips and advice are required to crack an interview?

Attendance, paperwork, formatting, and, most importantly, etiquette and practice are crucial to crack an interview.

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