Not all postgraduate programmes hold interviews, but if you’re applying to a popular and/or humanity TPg programme, a MPhil or PhD, it’s likely that you’ll need to attend one.
The interviews can take several different formats, depending on the university and the discipline you are applying for. Some common formats include:
- A formal interview
- An interview via SKYPE/ ZOOM/ other social media (common for overseas applications)
- An informal chat
- A presentation (very common for RPg applications, sometimes a few slides are required)
The interview itself is an important part of your application process. You will have the chance to meet your prospective department or potential research team. No matter you are applying for a TPg or RPg programme, the purpose of the interview is to demonstrate to the panel that you are the right candidate and they are the right university/course/department/research group/ laboratory for you. We have listed out some key steps for your preparation:
Understand the programme
The purpose of the interview is to verify whether the applicant is committed to, and prepared for, the postgraduate programme. Therefore, you should first review the details of the programme(s), such as programme structure, learning outcomes and career opportunities. Your interviewer may ask relevant questions during the interview, such as “why do you think you are a suitable student for the programme?”, “what is your career plan?”, etc.
You can find the information from the programme website and publication. You should also spend some time to attend the information session before application, and talk to the teachers and graduates.
Understand your interviewer(s)
The interviewers are usually the professors and teachers of the programme, and you should spend some time to understand them. You can visit the programme website, and review their profiles such as research interests, the courses they teach, and recent publications. With sufficient understanding, you can easily answer the questions, such as “what is your research interest?” and “which course fits your interests most?”, and demonstrate a high level of readiness and commitment.
Prepare for your self-introduction / opening
An outstanding self-introduction can leave a good first impression to your interviewers, and ensure the interview runs smoothly. The self-introduction should last for 30-seconds to 1-minute, and it should be able to draw interviewers’ attention and make them remember you. You can start your self-introduction with a short question or story, and introduce one or two of your unique strength(s) and/or character(s) with example(s) and connect it with your future study. You may need to draft and polish your script, and practice it yourself and in front of your friends and teachers. You can also make use of CAES Communication Support Services (https://caescss.hku.hk/) and seek Communication Advisers’ help.
Read the news, journals, and notes
During the interview, your interviewer(s) may ask you question(s) related to the latest news and/or breakthroughs in the field, and the contents you learnt in your undergraduate study. Therefore, keep learning and start preparation after you submit your application.
Ask for details when you receive interview invitation
When you receive the invitation, you should look into the details, such as date, time, format (individual or group), dress code, etc. If you need any clarification, you should proactively contact the staff.
Additional tips for MPhil/PhD admission interviews
For RPg admission interviews, the contents will definitely be surrounding your research proposal. Therefore, please get well-prepared. Here are some tips:
- Review your research proposal carefully and remember the main points
- Review your personal statement. Be prepared to talk about your research interests and your research experience in the past. Don’t forget to give concrete and specific examples
- Think again your motivation for pursuing a RPg programme. You might need to present it
- Read the works of your potential supervisors/research teams, especially their latest/recent research outputs
- Anticipate questions and prepare ahead
Etiquette is also very important. Let’s look at the Dos and Don’ts compiled by a PhD student, using his experience in his PhD admission interview. The points are very helpful and practical!