I recently attended an interview in which my supervisor is a panel mate.

After the interview, I met my mentor and asked whether I performed well and her opinion about the interview happened.

She (my mentor) told, "you performed well and I think you will get hired".

After a day, I shared this incident with a colleague. He (my colleague) opined that asking such a question to the mentor is unethical because it may be an obligation for her.

Indeed, I cannot ask opinions about my interview with other panel members and took advantage of rapport with my mentor in asking such a question, but I am not feeling that it is unethical since I didn't ask her any favor and just asked an opinion about my performance in the interview.

Is asking such a question unethical or perfectly ethical?

  • 1
    To be honest, your supervisor should be experienced enough to know what to answer. If they think they are not permitted to give an evaluation to you that's what they should have told you. That being said, by asking them you put them under (slight) pressure. In my personal opinion, not a big issue, but I always feel it is better not to put people in a courtesy dilemma. Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 14:15
  • What kind of job is this? For hiring a PhD candidate there would be very different customs than for a faculty member. Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 14:36
  • @lighthousekeeper It is for a sort of position in my university independent of my context.
    – hanugm
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


I am very surprised that your supervisor agreed to participate in an interview as a panel member. Often, it would be considered a conflict of interest to interview her own PhD student. Considering that your supervisor knows you very well, and probably does not know other candidates for the same role equally well, this situation puts other candidates at disadvantage. Even if your supervisor were completely fair in her judgement, there will always be some doubt whether or not she has shown some favouritism for you as a candidate. This is exactly what every job interview panel is trying to avoid - the ethical rules dictate that they have to act fairly and also avoid any situation which may be perceived as unfair.

Disclosing the results of the interview before the official announcements are made is also a bad form. However, first and foremost, even accepting to sit at the job interview panel with you as a candidate seems unethical behaviour on her part.


The answer of Dmitry Savostyanov focused on ethical obligations of the advisor. I'll focus on yours alone.

I see no problem with asking "how you did". It is a perfectly natural thing to do and not unethical. You could even ask whether they think you will be hired, and you might get a reply or not. The best reply would be to wait for an official announcement, but that is an issue for the advisor and not for you. You might also get some advice on things you might have done better which would help in future interviews.

But I see no ethical issue for you to ask.

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