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I was wondering what type of questions an applicant should expect from a Skype interview for a postdoc position (in theoretical physics). I understand they must depend on the interviewers. But I am looking for a generic answer. Here are some specific questions that I have in mind.

  1. How long will it be?
  2. Will it be a Q&A session? In that case, what type of questions are usually asked?
  3. How to react if the position is offered directly and the applicant wants some more time to decide?
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    These questions seem better addressed to your interviewers. Actually, I don't think any of these questions has a standard answer (even just in theoretical physics). – 101010111100 Jan 8 '17 at 20:27
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    It's entirely reasonable for you to ask the interviewer or their department what you should expect of the interview in terms of duration, types of question, etc. – A E Jan 9 '17 at 14:24
  • I don't see that any of these things are different for being on Skype... And in each case except the last, the only people who can tell you the answers are the interviewers – Flyto Jan 9 '17 at 23:20
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There are no defined "rules" for what a Skype interview will look like. However, to give you some pointers:

How long will it be?

You should ask the interviewer. I have had Skype interviews between 15 minutes and a little over one hour. If the interview would go significantly longer than that, I would assume you would have been told.

Will it be a Q&A session? In that case, what type of questions are usually asked?

Presumably there would be Q&A, yes. Questions could be any kind of typical interview questions, i.e., they could relate to your research, your teaching, how you advise students, what grants you are interested in applying for, or anything else really.

How to react if the position is offered directly and the applicant wants some more time to decide?

"I am very happy about that. However, I will need to get back to you within [X timeframe] as I need to discuss this decision first with my wife."

(no, no reasonable PI should expect an answer from you right now; even though they may indeed offer you the position immediately, you are under no pressure to accept immediately)

  • Besides the Q&A section, you might also have a short talk with an HR representative. And there will probably some time for you to ask questions to the committee. – jure Jan 9 '17 at 3:50
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From my experience, a Skype interview is not different at all from an in-person interview. Most importantly, you should be prepared to precisely explain why you see your future in that particular research group, and why the group will benefit from hiring you. The rest will depend on the circumstances. But to address one of your questions specifically:

How to react if the position is offered directly and the applicant wants some more time to decide?

Since accepting a job offer has far-reaching professional and personal consequences, it is only reasonable to ask them for some time to decide. If they still rush you to make a decision, this is actually being rude/a red flag.

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