I contacted a lecturer from my alma mater. He replied me a few days later that he had funding, explained me his project and application process and even attached a detailed research proposal. He asked me to skype with him.

In such case, please advise me what kinds of questions during interview can be asked.

  • It might include technical/skills examining part. This can be very dependent on your field. I refer you to my own experience of computer science Skype interview here
    – Hawk
    Jan 6, 2015 at 8:12
  • For me, it was more to discuss the subject of the PhD, they ask some questions about my experiences etc... nothing technical tho.
    – Gautier C
    Jun 7, 2016 at 14:36

3 Answers 3


This doesn't sound like an overly formal process as you're already known to the interviewer. However, in my institution at least, the process is becoming much more formal (person specifications, training for interviewers, etc.) and so there are definite areas that the interviewer will be trying to explore:

  • Do your skills match up with what you claim on your application? Expect specific questions on your application, particularly on relevant projects, or reports, or dissertations.
  • Can you communicate? Particularly, why do you want to do a PhD, why in this area, with this person, etc. This also covers language skills, if you're not a native speaker. Expect more general questions probing your motivation.
  • Can you link together different areas of knowledge? Show that your earlier studies have gone in and you can see where they're relevant to the PhD topic. Expect detailed questions on key techniques for this project, maybe linking back to courses you've taken (if they don't make the link, it's a strength when you explicitly do).
  • Do you know what you don't know? There's a lot to learn in a PhD and the best candidates will (a) know that, and (b) want to fix that themselves. Communicating what areas you need to improve, and how you want the supervisor to help you improve, can be a strength (provided it isn't key background for the PhD!). This is where you should show you've read the research proposal, and also the papers referred to in it: you don't need a detailed understanding of it all, but you should clearly show what you've understood, and how you'd go about learning what you haven't.
  • Evidence of problem-solving skills. Talking about projects, reports written, group work done. Show that you understood what you did (even if strongly directed), that you can communicate it clearly, and how you generated ideas.
  • Can you connect with the potential supervisor? This can be purely personal, and is the hardest thing to do in a Skype call. If possible, try and make it a conversation instead of a question and answer session. Also, try and prepare some questions to ask them, particularly around the research proposal.

As I noted at the top, if you're already known to the interviewer, and if there's no formal university process mandated by central administration, this could well be an informal chat. Even then, I'd make sure you've read the research proposal, and researched its background, so that you can genuinely talk, and not get a huge information dump.


He probably wants to talk about his project and your research background/interests. He may ask about some past projects you've done and what kind of work you are interested in. It's best if you can demonstrate sincere interest in his project and read some previous papers of his that seem relevant to the proposal.


He certainly seems to be considering you for inclusion if he gets the funding. I would make a clear list of all your achievements both academic and non-academic and be clear in your own mind what you are looking for in the future. The project may not be something you actually want so make sure to include questions that help you to judge if this is something which matches your own goals.

So I would include questions about the scope of the project, who else is involved and be clear on what funding will be available and how long it will last. Do not be afraid to ask these things.

Regards Skype, the camera is often not where you will look directly because you will be looking central screen at the video relay of other person. Just relax and do not worry though as Skype is easy. Just make sure you remember the different times zones if this is applicable.

You might also find this article useful http://www.socresonline.org.uk/21/2/12.html because it goes into details about Skype for academic purposes.

  • If you link to your own projects, websites, or papers in an answer, please disclose your affiliation in the answer. See how not to be a spammer.
    – ff524
    Jun 7, 2016 at 14:41

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