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Most Frequent PhD Interview Questions – What Will You Be Asked?

Your PhD interview can seem like a daunting prospect and you may have no idea where to start, but a little preparation can go a long way. In particular, knowing how to prepare your research methodology for PhD as well for the upcoming PhD interview questions and answers and how best to answer them, can give you the confidence you need to start your journey to achieving a PhD. So you can start from this, not only your PhD research questions.


Being prepared for the frequently asked questions we have gone into above can mean the difference between being accepted and obtaining the PhD that will further your career or missing out on an exciting opportunity that could have been achieved with just a little more preparation.

PhD Admission Interview Questions & Answers

Why have you applied to do a PhD here?

To give a good answer to this question you must have done extensive research of the university you are interviewing for. This demonstrates not only your ability to seek out and retain information but also makes you appear keen and interested in this particular university, causing you to be a promising candidate for interviewers. Use your research to show that there are specific reasons for your choosing this particular university – not just that it had a lower offer than others so was easier to get into! Choice of equipment or resources; good results in polls of student satisfaction or your respect for lecturers’ work or research are all great reasons for choosing a particular university.

What will completing a PhD do for you?

Interviewers use questions like these to learn what your reasons for pursuing a PhD are and, from that, ascertain how motivated you are likely to be. Universities want students who highly motivated, keen and interested in their field as this is how good results are produced, boosting the universities’ ratings. Therefore having long-term research or career goals that can be obtained with a PhD shows that you have thought long and hard about whether this is the right path for you, demonstrating that you are prepared to be dedicated.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

This question is all about phrasing your answer in a way that weaknesses appear as strengths. For example: “I can be too much of a perfectionist” is, here, described as a weakness but seeking perfection can only be considered a strength to interviewers as it demonstrates diligence and dedication. Focus more on professional traits than personal ones as these are usually easier to fix, for example being unfamiliar with new software. Before your interview separate a list of your skills into knowledge-based (gained from education or experience such as languages or computer skills), transferable (skills that can be taken from different situations like communication or planning skills) and personal traits (your own qualities such as being flexible, dependable or punctual). When it comes to the strengths aspect of this question do not just rely on words like enthusiastic or patient, provide real examples of these traits.

Tell us about a challenge you have overcome in the past.

Research-based challenges are the most appropriate in this situation, but if you choose to talk about a personal or career-based challenge then explain how you used to research or project-management skills to solve it. Try to think of a challenge related to your PhD topic or from your previous work during your degree as these will be the most relevant. Include why you consider it to be a big challenge and avoid personal stories as they are rarely well-connected to the research you will need to complete to obtain your PhD. Keep the story concise and free from dramatization; explain the problem and then how you solved it, referring back to your own strengths mentioned in earlier questions.

Do you have any questions for us?

The answer to this question should always be yes! Ask questions that demonstrate your interest in the university and reflect the reasons you gave for applying in the first place. For example, asking for information you couldn’t find through your research such as the availability of particular equipment or popularity of the particular department. Make a list of questions in preparation for your interview and use this last question to learn everything you can about the university and department you have applied for. Not only will this benefit you but you will appear curious and genuinely interested in the university making you a much more promising candidate for interviewers.

Follow Our Guide to Give a Planned and Purposeful PhD Interview

Use our guide to give you the best chance at being prepared and confident for your PhD interview and preparing your PhD dissertation. Most importantly do your research of the university you are applying for but also ensure that you are well-read on the subject you plan on studying. This knowledge can undoubtedly be slotted neatly into your answers to show your extensive understanding and interest in your chosen subject and can potentially help you with your dissertation defense questions.

professional phd interview questions

Create Your Best Dissertation with Professional Consultants

Nothing but the best dissertation is expected from graduate students which is why many are already feeling the pressure even though they are just at the initial stages of their work. This is not surprising given that completing a dissertation requires time and a lot of effort in order to pull it off successfully. If you are having a hard time with your own paper, it would be worth considering hiring professional consultants to guide you with your own dissertation.

Our service is designed to provide graduate students a place where they can get assistance not only in writing their dissertation but also to get dissertation writing tips or advice on the best steps to take to tackle their final paper. We also offer dissertation proofreading and editing services so you can have a professional review your dissertation to spot and correct the mistakes that you may have committed. There is nothing that we can’t do for our clients which is why we are often hired to handle dissertation papers.

Use our guide to prepare for your PhD admissions interview and you are sure to give a confident and convincing performance which is sure to earn you a place!