I've got invited to a PhD interview in the field of computational physics. In the invitation mail I was told, among other things, that I should present my skills for about 5min. It is my first interview and I'm quite unsure how I design this part of the presentation. I thought about presenting the main skills for the position, where I learned them and where I could use them so far. But I don't know how to design the slides for this part. I would assume that it is pretty boring to simply listing them or shouldn't I do any slide at all for this part?

Thank you for any help and suggestions in advance!

  • If in doubt about such things it's always okay (and in fact strongly advisable) to ask the place that invited you! Feb 2, 2021 at 12:24

3 Answers 3


Perhaps you should organize it around things you have done and then mention the skills it took to accomplish that. Projects undertaken, research done, ...

Some things are more nebulous. Do you read a lot in the field, and take (and organize) notes, for example. What have you written? What sorts of organizational skills were required for that?


Organize like crazy, five minutes will fly by. You want to leave your audience with a sense of your style and maybe an interesting nugget.


You should have a slide or a few slides and you should not be worried about a list being boring. They specifically asked for this list! What they want to know is whether you know enough to hit the ground running and complete a project. The content is what matters and will be interesting to the audience.

There are ways you can make a "list" slide more visually interesting, if you want to do this. For example, you can have each new bullet appear as a pop up as you advance the slides. A slightly more advanced version is to "blow up" the new bullets so they are larger or "zoomed in", but keep the old bullets on the same slide in a smaller font.

Anyway 5 minutes is a lot less time than you think. I would not focus on "where you got the skills" -- that will take time from describing your skills. But, you should try to be as specific as possible about what your level of experience is. Reread the ad for the position and play up any experience you have that is related to the description (use the same words if you can).

Since it is a computational physics position, here's an example of the bullets I might make for a slide (I am completely making up at the kind of experience you might have)

  • Research / problem solving experience
    • Completed project P and produced result R
    • Skilled at debugging and testing my code
    • Independent problem solver and worker [I would include this and the previous bullet in some form, and you do want to give an example for both]
  • Computing experience
    • Proficient in X, Y, Z languages
    • Used A, B, C software packages in projects
    • Limited experience with version control
    • Run several jobs on a cluster for a research project
  • Relevant courses
    • Computational physics
    • Python programming

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