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I am currently applying to doctoral programs in experimental/cognitive psychology and have recently made arrangements with a few prospective mentors to meet at an upcoming conference. I apologize if this question has already been asked numerous times before, but I was hoping to get some advice on how to prepare for such a meeting? What questions are "appropriate" to ask (e.g., can I ask what directions they plan to take their labs in, or is that presumptuous?)? What questions should I be prepared to answer? Any and all advice is much appreciated!

  • Know what you want to achieve, don’t look like a researcher that has been working all night. – Solar Mike Sep 4 at 5:10
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  1. Be knowledgeable: know the mentors’ research papers and themes.

  2. Be curious: prepare a few good questions to ask the mentors. Get them to talk about themselves (there’s nothing professors love more than talking about their work!)

  3. Be forward thinking: what would you do to improve their work? What do you bring to the table? What good ideas do you have? You don’t need a 5-step research program, but you definitely need to show you can suggest good directions for future work.

  4. Be relaxed: or act like it. appearing nervous, profusely apologizing at every turn, being overly subservient etc will make you look bad. Talk to them like an equal. If your prospective mentor has such a fragile ego so that they need you stroking it, they’re probably not fun to work with.

Good luck!

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