Forum:How Should I Go About Preparing For My Bioinformatics Phd Admissions Interview?
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10.0 years ago
kandoigaurav ▴ 150

How can I prepare myself and what kind of questions can I expect? What topics should I prepare for my bioinformatics PhD admissions interview apart from my previous research?

What are the committee members looking for? What questions should I be prepared with?

What should/can I ask them?

phd • 11k views
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Seriously, this is better suited for academics.stackexchange, where it is discussed a lot (on-topic): http://academia.stackexchange.com/search?q=phd+interview

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Is this an interview for a specific PhD in a specific group, or is it for entry onto a generic PhD programme where you'll choose your group later?

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I believe its a generic PhD program interview! Though there is a possibility that the interviewer turns out to be the one in whose lab I've expressed my interested during my applications.

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If you've expressed an interest in an individual, they'll try to put them on your panel - make sure you know what they do and why you're keen on them.

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10.0 years ago
Emily 23k

You might be interested to read Phd Candidate Interview Questions For A Mixed Lab/Bioinformatics Project.

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10.0 years ago

If you know who you'll be interviewing with, do a quick skim of their lab website and most recent work. It always plays well if you can ask some semi-intelligent questions about their research. (If there's one thing PIs love, it's talking about their own research!) Don't be pushy and don't force it into the conversation, but it's always a good fallback.

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Thank you Dr. Chris! I'm yet to know who I'll be interviewing with, but I'll make sure to know about their research!

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10.0 years ago

Knowing about your current research is the main thing. Reading up on the interviewer's research is a good idea, but you shouldn't have to worry about being quizzed (but that information can help you develop questions to ask and may be helpful to if deciding whether or not you like a particular lab).

I think interviews are mostly recruitment visits (although there is still some possibility of being rejected or wait-listed after an interview). In most cases, I think you will be fine if you show you understand your current research and don't act like a jerk.

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Thanks! I suppose I'm fine to go talking about my previous and current research. And yes, I will try not to act a jerk :)

Is there any possibility of it turning out to be an entirely technical interview? Its an interview for PhD admissions in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program at an US university and not for a specific Lab/Project!

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The suggestions that I was providing were based upon my experiences with bioinformatics PhD interviews. You will probably interview with 4-6 faculty members, where the discussion will be based mostly on your research and their research.

After you graduate, I think the most important thing you will have are publications from whatever lab you join (the coursework probably won't really matter after you graduate). So, I would say being able to have a handful of labs you like should be the most important factor in deciding where you want to attend. Even if you don't have an interview scheduled, I would strongly recommend you try to talk to PIs that you are interested in (perhaps during social events, etc.). You can't really tell how well you will "click" with a PI until you meet and talk face-to-face, and I wouldn't recommend joining a lab if you don't like the PI (even if they have good publications).

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10.0 years ago

IMHO there is really just a single question that is on just about every interviewer's mind: "Will this candidate help us get research done?"

Now the way interviewers determine that can be wildly different - and it takes skill to figure it out as early as possible then adapt to this requirement on the fly.

My personal ranking goes like this:

  1. be smart (not necessarily grades, show that you understand some relevant subjects in greater detail than other candidates)
  2. be enthusiastic about what you want to do (it is not a well know fact that the world runs on enthusiasm)
  3. finish things aka get things done (had your prior projects produce end results?)
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Thank you Dr. Istvan!

I shall keep these points in my mind.

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10.0 years ago
Michael 54k

I recall the following true story: In one of the interview sessions of new PhD candidates in our gradschool (fortunately it was after I joined, don't know if I had passed that exam) a younger professor asked: "Can you please give me the approximate number of bakeries in town?" He did this with each and every candidate, such that in the end the fourth or fifth candidate came in and said: "Are you also going to ask me that bakery thing? Because I googled that out for you."

I give it to him that he wanted to check for sort of "problem solving skills", e.g. that was at least how he defended it (he didn't have an accurate solution himself, just wanted to see how people develop an approach), or maybe he had just found it on some obscure HR web-site. Though such question is clearly off-topic (HR questions are all aren't they?) one could prepare for answering them politely if you think the question is nuts (and even if it's true).

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