I am applying for a PhD program and received a second interview invitation from my potential supervisor. She said she would like to discuss the potential direction of the project and my ideas for this project. My background isn't a perfect match with this project, so I have been working on the basic knowledge of this field (which is neurology). Before this interview invitation, I sent some emails to her to discuss some possible applications of the project, but all my questions were really general (for example, the project works on A, and I asked her if we can combine A and another therapy, B, together to expect an additive effect). However, most of them were less relevant to the main objective of this project, I asked them because I thought there could be more usage of the therapy A.

Do I need to come up with more specific questions about this project? How do I have impressive ideas for something I'm not familiar with?

  • 4
    "How do I have impressive ideas for something I'm not familiar with?" You don't, that's why she in all likelihood isn't expecting you to have "impressive ideas", but simply to "discuss the potential direction of the project and your ideas for this project". Jun 28, 2023 at 9:16
  • @AdamPřenosil So the more important thing is to express my thoughts, even they could be dumb or useless?
    – xuehua an
    Jun 28, 2023 at 13:42
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    There is a lot of space between "dumb or useless" and "impressive". You should be able to have some coherent ideas about what you want to do, but that doesn't mean you need to be trying to "impress" anyone. See the answer of cheery.beach for more detail. Jun 28, 2023 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


She invited you for a first interview, so you look good on paper. She invited you for a second interview, so she liked what she saw. All good news. In my experience, a second interview is to evaluate how good of a fit you are to her lab, and to possibly assess what kind of projects you are capable of handling. Bring ideas of possible projects, and show flexibility in terms of tackling projects which are a little outside of your experience. You've already shown that you are a good scientist (hence the interview invitations), now show that you are also a good colleague and collaborator.

  • Thank you! I am more relaxed now, and I know what I should do.
    – xuehua an
    Jun 28, 2023 at 15:00

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