I am a student who has completed his master's and I took an year break to prepare for PhD and living in a poor Asian country. I applied to PhD programs in Germany and France this year in Pure mathematics and I have received 3 interview calls in January last week and February. 1 interview is with prospective supervisor alone and two are with admission committee of 4-5 members.

What cultural and etiquette should be kept in mind during Zoom interview?

Also, suppose In case I am not able to answer question of a professor (suppose being not able to recall or not so good in that field) then how should I handle that situation politely and without getting embarrassed ?

(I have only given one interview in my life (in person, not remote, for master's entrance) and I must say that I panicked because I was not able to solve the questions completely and hence said to prof. I don't know and in fact I felt a bit relaxed when that interview was over (despite being in good command over the topics that I was asked questions about and the program being one of my favorites). I have a problem of panicking in front of authority and have self esteem issues.)

I am putting emphasis on culture and etiquette because my country is one of the most racist country where people are not known for their politeness and are very sarcastic to each other.

So, what etiquette should I keep in mind while giving interview to be polite and well mannered person as per Western European standards?

Any advice, reference you give to me will be immensely useful to me and I shall be really thankful for that.

  • Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Jan 15, 2022 at 18:49
  • @Community Done.
    – user135061
    Jan 15, 2022 at 18:51
  • 1
    If you do not know something, just say so.
    – markvs
    Jan 15, 2022 at 19:28
  • If it helps, the interviewers are likely to be very used to talking to people from other cultures and countries, so will probably be forgiving of any accidental faux-pas. Jan 17, 2022 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Your problem does not sound specific to your country of origin.

In my language, there is an idiom with a rough equivalent of "there's no way to make up for lost time". It helps people hold their heads high when facing anxiety, particularly when it comes to exams or interviews. You have arrived at this point in life, there is no need to pretend being something you are not. If you do not know something, just say it. If you get a feeling you have offended someone by some cultural quirk, bring it up, get an explanation, proceed from there. People make inappropriate remarks even growing up in the very same country; learning from your mistakes and being able to move on is more valuable than wasting precious resources on self-flagellation. So just try your best to not overthink it, observe and learn.

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