So I am applying to a research group in Quantum Optics and Quantum Information. The professor has asked for my research interests and why I would like to join his group. My research interests are in the same field that he is researching but is not exactly to the point. For example, someone might be researching on the shape and size of the apple but I'm interested in the color and taste. We are still researching in the same field and I am also interested in doing my phd in the project he's working on.

How do I express my research interests in this situation? Also, when someone asks "why are you interested in joining my research group", what are the usual points or aspects you talk about?

  • 1
    There is no wrong answer here. Just answer the question honestly. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:07
  • If my research agenda or interests are deviating from the project which I am interested in doing my phd in does it mean that im not fit for the position.
    – moksha
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:09
  • ^ Nope. It depends on how broad the horizons of your prospective supervisor are!
    – 299792458
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


When someone asks, why are you interested in joining my research group, what are the usual points or aspects you talk about?

You have to read up on what the PI and the postdoc(s) and the students are doing and read some publications. Then when you are asked that question, you can say what you found interesting or exciting about what is being done in that group.


Depends on the person who you are talking to. In a research group which is not exceedingly interdisciplinary/varied, it might deviate from what your professor is looking for and thus it might be a downside for the person who is evaluating the applications. If the group is searching for variety, it might be beneficial to state the different fields in which you are interested.

In a more practical way, look to the research group itself (and, as @aparente001 just mentioned, their publications): if it is way too large and its publications are wide-ranged in topic, it might not be a disadvantage and it can definitely turn the balance in your favor. Nevertheless take a good look into their research fields! If they are concentrated in a single topic, it might be good to introduce the difference in scope after you are used to how does that particular research group work.

Anyhow, never be too specific: the field you are speaking of has a lot of interesting research opportunities and you can end up researching a field you had no idea you were interested in.

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