List of common questions
asked during postdoctoral interviews
You applied for a postdoctoral position and finally got an interview? That is great! Congratulations!
Now you need to train yourself to be successful at showing your potential future boss how you perfectly fit for this postdoctoral position!
We know by experience that one of the most stressful part of the postdoctoral job interview is to not be able to answer questions asked by the interviewer. (PostdocInUSA team)
To increase your chance to be a hero at this exercise during your postdoctoral job interview, we have gathered for you a list of 78 questions that are commonly asked and likely to be asked during postdoc interviews.
We highly encourage you before your job interviews to prepare yourself to answer to those questions, think about your answers, take notes for yourself and rehearse!
The more you prepare, the more you will be successful at job interviews!
How did you hear about this postdoc position?
What do you know about our work/research?
When did you complete your PhD?
Or when do you plan to?
Questions about you
Tell us about yourself…
What is your best and worst quality?
What is your greatest strength and weakness?
How would your current PhD supervisor / coworkers / friends describe you?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Questions about your PhD
Tell us about your PhD…
Please tell us about your current position, your research background and experience.
Describe your previous research project.
What did you particularly enjoy about this project?
What are the three main findings of your PhD?
What are the top three accomplishments you had?
If you could do your PhD research again, what would you do differently?
We see you worked at ___ / in Dr. ___ laboratory, how was it? How did you contribute to their success?
How many first author publications do you have?
Did you write your papers yourself ?
How much did you contribute in writing your papers?
What are the top journals you published in?
Questions about your motivations & expectations to pursue your career with a postdoc
What is your favorite aspect about research?
And your least favorite?
What particular areas of our research interests you most and why?
Why are you interested in this position?
Why do you want to join our lab?
What do you hope to gain from a postdoc experience?
Why did you decide to apply for a postdoc?
What are the top goals you hope to achieve during your postdoctoral experience?
What are your expectations for this postdoctoral position, if you are selected? What do you hope to learn?
Why did you decide to apply for this position?
What are you looking for in a job? What is important to you?
What motivates you?
Which technical skills do you hope to learn?
What other professional skills?
Would you be open to apply for independent funding for your postdoc?
Why do(n’t) you want to continue your career in “academia/industry”?
Does your profile fit the postdoc position you applied for?
How does your research fit in with our work?
What collaborations/connections would you bring with you?
What do you think is the most important to make collaborations a success?
How do you see collaborations in your research/work?
What are the 2 or 3 most important things to you in a position?
You don’t really have much of a background in ___. How do you plan to fill in that gap?
How do you feel about doing research outside your current area of expertise?
What do you understand about the description of the postdoctoral position we advertised?
Please describe research directions you would like to pursue if you were offered this postdoctoral position.
How will your PhD training help advance our research project on ___?
What do you think will be the most challenging part of this postdoctoral position?
Questions about your working skills/experience
Do you have any experience supervising students / technical staff?
Could you describe your leadership skills?
Could you illustrate with a project in which you played a leadership role? What was the greatest challenge you encountered?
Could you describe a situation in which you had to motivate a student or coworker?
What specific techniques did you learn/use for your experiments to date?
Questions about your working behavior/reactions
How much time per week would you accept to spend in the lab?
How would you describe the pace at which you work?
How do you handle stress and pressure?
How quickly would you say you learn new techniques, concepts?
Please give an example of initiative.
Please describe a situation when your input made a difference.
Please describe a time when you had to set priorities to meet a deadline. How did you manage it?
Do you consider yourself organized?
Is your laboratory notebook carefully and clearly kept?
What is your working style? (team work, work hours, work ethic…)
Do you prefer to have a lot of supervision or to work independently?
What type of work environment do you prefer: working in a group or on your own?
How do you feel about working independently?
Could you tell me about your problem-solving ability in the laboratory (with one example)?
Please tell us about a situation in which you were the only one to find a solution to a problem.
Tell me a situation when you had to disagree with a coworker or your supervisor.
How did you proceed?
Please describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it.
Who is the worst person you’ve ever worked for/with, and what did you learn from the experience?
Questions about your career objectives
How do you see your career in the future?
What are your long-term career goals?
Do you hope to become a faculty member or work in industry?
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
How do you think this postdoctoral position will allow you to reach your professional goals?
What does success mean for you in your life?
Please describe one of the most significant goals you’ve set during your PhD and how you achieved it.
What are the top 3 goals you would like to achieve during your postdoc?
Questions for international applicants
Are you authorized to work in the United States? How long?
Do you need to apply for a visa to work in the United States?
Questions frequently asked at the end of the interview
When would you be able to start if you were offered this postdoc position?
Do you have any other questions about the postdoc position?
Do you have any questions for us?
What else should I know about you?
What other laboratories/universities/companies are you interviewing with?
What makes you think you are the best candidate for this postdoctoral position?
Other random questions
Please tell us about your extracurricular activities or volunteer work. Why did you chose that activities/work?
What is your current salary/compensation?
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