• Questions to ask during postdoctoral job Interview

Why should you ask questions?

during postdoctoral interviews

You applied for postdoctoral positions and you are now starting postdoctoral interviews with your potential future lab? Great!

As you know, you will be asked a lot of questions by your future P.I. during the interview to check if you are a good fit for his laboratory (Check the most common questions asked to postdoctoral candidates during interviews), but please remember that is it as much important that you ask questions too!

Why is it important to ask questions during postdoctoral interviews?

You should not select a lab just because it has a great reputation in your field and publishes in high-impact journals, it is as much important that you evaluate if the lab work environment and organization, as well as the PI/mentor management style are a good match with your career goals and expectations, but also your work/life-balance expectations.

Every postdoctoral candidate has its own set of criteria regarding its expectations about the postdoctoral experience and the interview is the perfect time to ask all questions you want to. Remember that you should interview the PI and the lab as much as they are interviewing you!

PostdocInUSA has composed a panel of 35 questions that we think would be important to ask by postdoctoral candidates during interviews.

This is a non-exhaustive list of questions, so take the time to make your own list of questions before your interview, based on what you value as important for your postdoctoral experience and future career goals.

Questions about the postdoctoral position


What are the primary (and secondary) responsibilities of this postdoctoral position?


Do you have a specific project from your ongoing work or should/could I design my own?


What are the main challenges associated with this position?


If I am selected for this postdoctoral position, what are the key objectives to be achieved in the first 6-12 months?


Does the position require teaching?

Questions about lab work environment


How is work organized between lab members / other postdocs?


Do postdocs have their own project?


Does the lab work collaboratively or more independently on projects?


How long do postdocs generally stay in the lab?


What other labs / institutions would I be able to interact with/collaborate with?

Questions about PI management style


Please describe your management style with postdocs.


Are you easily available? How often are you in the lab?


Do you help postdocs in troubleshooting experiments?


How do you contribute to postdoc career development?


How do you evaluate postdoc performance?

Questions about lab organization


What is the size of the lab? How many lab members / postdocs / PhD students are in the lab?


Will I have research support from a lab manager / technician / student?


Do you hold regular lab meetings / institute presentations / individual meetings?

Questions about funding situation


Please describe the funding situation of the lab.



How many grants does the lab currently have? When are they due for renewal?


Do you have funding to cover this postdoctoral position? How long?


Do you have a fellowship available for this postdoc position?


Do you expect postdocs to get their own funding?



Would you help me apply for small grants or fellowships?


Do you currently have all resources/equipment for the postdoctoral work to be performed?


Do you have funds for attending scientific meetings, learning new techniques?

Questions about former postdocs in the lab


Could you provide me with contact from lab members / former postdocs?



Where did former postdocs from your lab move on to do? Faculty positions, independent research positions…?


How many papers did former postdocs publish?

Other questions


If not done during lab visit, ask to meet lab members and current postdocs?



Would you be open to the possibility for me to take my research project with me to start my own lab?


Would you help me with paying for moving expenses?


Could you send me a recent grant proposal so I can have further details of your research directions for the next 5 years?


Does the university / institution have a postdoc office / association?


Final questions


When will you make a decision?

Are you ready to apply to a posdoc job offer?

Visit our PostdocInUSA Job Board

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