I finished my PhD in 2013. I don't have any experience in supervision of research students. When I apply for teaching job uni. always ask me "Your experience in supervision of research students". How to answer those kind questions properly?

  • 2
    Are you sure you're applying for the right jobs? That question sounds like it's for a position for tenure or at least tenure track positions, and 2 years removed from your Ph.D. you're usually still doing post-docs. I guess that depends on your field and how good your results so far have been, though... Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 9:03
  • Thanks! Yes, I am sure. The job is a full time 3 years contract Postdoct work with a 5 selection criteria. My qualification is well matched with first 4 criteria except the 5. Currently I am working for a professional firm in architecture not for postdoct. I wish I can return to academia, but my problem is that English is not my first language.
    – user38553
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 10:16
  • @zibadawatimmy That is country-dependent. Where I work having experience supervising students is a common expectation on every hire from postdoc up.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 11:08

3 Answers 3


If the jobs you are applying to expect you to have experience teaching research students and you have none, there is really no explaining away of this problem. I see basically two fixes:

  1. Get this experience. I am not sure how feasible this is wherever you work, but in my university in Europe, everybody who wants experience teaching students can get it. There are plenty of research master students or even undergrads that need supervision, and getting involved with teaching them is usually not more complicated than telling the lab head or responsible coordinator that you would be available. Of course, then you also need to be prepared to put in the hours - teaching research students is definitely not something that you can do with an hour on the side here and there, as these inexperienced researchers typically need some serious time commitment to get them started. Incidentally, the fact that it is so easy to get experience supervising students is also the reason why universities in my area consider it as a red flag if you have none - they interpret this as "I actively tried to get out of supervising students".
  2. Find jobs to apply to that don't require teaching research students. If you for some reason don't want to be involved with teaching research students, you shouldn't apply to positions that require this. What you could maybe still do is apply to positions that are very (undergrad) teaching-centered, such as liberal arts colleges in the US or Universities of Applied Sciences in the German-speaking areas. That being said, if you don't want to be involved with research at all, you may be drawing slim as nowadays most universities seem to expect their junior faculty to do some research on the side.

To anser your literal question:

How to answer those kind questions properly?


"I currently do not have any experience in teaching research students, as [insert accurate reason]. Of course I will be more than willing to get this experience as soon as possible should my application be accepted."


Just say you don't have any yet. They may score the candidates, and one zero may affect your total score, but your strong scores in the other four aspects will bring up your total.

Also, please remember, there's a subjective factor which always comes in in hiring decisions.

If you are concerned about the total absence of experience in this one area, call them up and ask them if that puts you completely out of the running. (If they say yes, you can save yourself some work.) I doubt they will say yes, though.

Good luck!


For question "Your experience in supervision of research students" ... if you have no such experience, answer "none".

There is no other way to answer it "properly".

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