0

I had applied to a top-10 university for a PhD in mathematics, and the funded vacancies there are limited. I knew that in case of being shortlisted I was going to be interviewed. Hence, I recently checked all the university’s guidelines of how I should prepare myself for an interview. For example, according to those guidelines, I was going to be asked such questions as why I chose that university, what are my strength points, and so on.

Around one month later after my application I was invited for an interview by two leading mathematicians there. However, they directly started asking me ONLY technical questions ranging from foundational mathematical questions to advanced topics, and questions about my CV and the like. Anyway I answered the foundational and CV-related questions normally but I could not answer only two advanced phd-level questions, one of which was not related to my master’s major at all. I also talked about a rare but relevant mathematical topic which I have been reading explaining to them in general what this topic is about and how it is related to my major.

In the end, one of the interviewers asked me if I have an external fund, my response was no and as far as I remember he said in one week I will be informed of the interview’s result, and finally he said “nice to meet you”.

1) Does mentioning the means of funding in a PhD interview imply that the applicant did well enough in the interview? 2) Moreover, it may look funny to ask this but what can “nice to meet you” in the end of a PhD interview imply? Is it a commonly used expression by interviewers or does it mean that the interviewer is pleased to admit the applicant?

  • 2
    "Nce to meet you" is just a common everyday pleasantry in the US that has no meaning beyond the words themselves. Don't read anything into it. It sounds like you did pretty well, though. – Buffy May 14 at 10:34
  • @Buffy why didn’t the interview guidelines turn out to be true in my case? Can it convey a specific meaning? I was asked no motivational or personality questions while most students are asked such questions – user108729 May 14 at 10:36
  • You'd have to ask the interviewers. They are just guidelines after all. I'd guess that the fact that you were asked "out of field" questions means they were impressed and thought they would just explore the boundaries. Let us know how you did when you learn. – Buffy May 14 at 10:42
  • 1
    Those "guidelines" you mention - were they generic for interviews generally or guidelines specifically for interviewing PhD candidates? – Solar Mike May 14 at 11:04
  • 4
    You'll find that's very common -- "university guidelines" tend to have common-sense advice that rarely applies to STEM (in fact, they are often written by undergraduates in non-STEM departments and carelessly reviewed by administrators who also lack a STEM background). You will find that your department has more in common with math departments at other universities than with humanities departments in the same university. – cag51 May 14 at 11:23
5

1) Does mentioning the means of funding in a PhD interview imply that the applicant did well enough in the interview?

No, it could mean many things. E.g., they might be trying to establish whether you could be hired without using their own funds.

2) ...what can “nice to meet you”...imply? Is it a commonly used expression by interviewers or does it mean that the interviewer is pleased to admit the applicant?

It is a generic expression, it carries no hidden meaning.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy