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I had the opportunity to interview with a professor and two of his PhD students for potential supervision in the mm-wave circuits group. Unfortunately, during the initial interview, which focused on the bioelectronics group, I struggled with some basic electronics questions that I had not revised thoroughly. As the interview progressed and delved deeper into the topic, I found it challenging to provide satisfactory answers, leading to a less-than-optimal outcome.

The second interview, which was more aligned with my interest in microwave circuits, took place the following day. Despite my efforts to study microwave concepts in preparation, my undergraduate-level knowledge in this area proved limited. While I managed to satisfy the interviewer with my understanding of microwave circuits, the conversation eventually shifted to circuits and communication aspects, where I once again struggled to perform well. As a result, I did not hear further from the professor or the research group.

I want to emphasize that I am not seeking justification for my performance during those interviews. I understand the importance of having a strong grasp of electronics and microwave circuits when pursuing this field. I simply wanted to share my experience.

Now, as I plan to reapply to the same research group this year, I have been working on three patents, which I hope to disclose during the interview period. Additionally, I am committed to thoroughly revising my knowledge of electronics and circuits concepts.

Here comes my question: Would it be a good idea to email the professor now, before the start of the application/intake period, to express my continued interest in the research group? Or should I wait until the application period begins? Or perhaps, is it not advisable to email the professor at all?

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    where in the world. Different cultures have different customs.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 11:20
  • How long ago was the first interview? Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 16:36
  • first interview was 20 to 25 minutes whereas the second interview was 30 to 35 minutes long Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 5:03

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You can certainly send the email, now or later, but I'm not sure why you expect a different outcome. The patents won't (I'd guess) compensate for not doing well answering relevant questions. If you can find reasons to think it would have a different outcome this time, then you can ask about it. Otherwise, you might better spend your efforts elsewhere.

But if you send an early email, include something about why you think things are different now. What have you done about the specific knowledge needed by this group?

Simply applying again during the normal process would might not even get you an interview if there is memory in the system about the previous outcome.

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  • I did not apply through university portal, It was only email conversation and interview with PhD students, not with professor himself. I wanted to say that these patents (a journal paper can be published by combining the three of them but first we have to wait for them to be filed) would somehow justify what I have been up to for this past year and would highlight my research potential, however the patents are not related to field of this professor which is the area I want to apply to. What do you think, would this be any helpful ? Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 12:02
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Interviewing with the same investigator would suggest to that investigator that you really want to be in that lab, perhaps connoting very strong motivation that might make the investigator take a second look.

That said, my though process would be "this is a two-way street", and I'd want some hard evidence that you've spend real effort making yourself a better candidate for that lab, minimally selecting coursework that would shore up the weaknesses that were noted during your first interviews. This doesn't mean that your chances are zero if you haven't done any work in that direction -- but that's how I would approach the situation as an investigator.

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