SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

What do you wish you asked during grad school interviews

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by tiy123, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. tiy123

    tiy123 2+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2015
    What are some good questions to ask (PIs or grad students) during interviews (beyond the obvious)? What do you wished you knew before attending your program?
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Kadhir

    Kadhir 2+ Year Member

    Nov 13, 2015
    Does my POI have a PD?

    (unfortunately, that may be for you to figure out)

    I wish I asked more about student life. I thought those were relatively unimportant questions and detracted from my credentials, but they're so critical. I wish I'd have asked folks if they would make the same decisions if they had to do it all over again. I also shouldn't have been afraid to ask about some of my perceived gaps in the training and how students they dealt with them (genuinely, without seeming like I was attacking the program, of course).
  4. blakjak12

    blakjak12 2+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2013
    I agree with that feedback. I would ask a lot of questions about what your POI's approach to mentoring and work is. Are they someone who is laid-back and flexible? Can you initiate your own projects and pursue your own ideas, or do you have to focus solely on their current projects? Do they require that you maintain certain hours, or can you work from home? How quickly do they get drafts of papers, grants, etc. back to you? If you're looking at programs emphasizing research, that person will be a huge factor on how enjoyable your experience is.
  5. DailyJoy


    Mar 28, 2017
    I feel the best question I asked grad students during interviews was "when you're having a difficult time, how does (insert advisor name here) support you?" Leaving it open allowed me to get information about the type of problems students felt comforable discussing with their advisor, the way in which they (or I in the future) may receive support, and if they even had a story or sentiment to share. Not everyone works well with the same type of mentorship style, so I got to chose the advisor/style that would be most helpful for me at this stage. I thought this gave me a good look into what to expect as well and was not surprised by communication styles in my first semester.
  6. Feelings Doctor

    Feelings Doctor

    Dec 1, 2016
    Ask current students: What do you do for self-care? How are you supported by faculty in achieving self-care during grad school? What are your hobbies? (No hobbies or struggle to think of hobbies outside of work = red flag for me because of my own emphasis on work-life balance.) What is a way Dr. __ has supported you when things got tough? What is your current research/thesis/dissertation/project (and how much does it differ from advisor)? How free are you to explore research ideas that are different from Dr. __'s? Are most students funded through the program? Do most of the faculty provide paid research opportunities (or is it just assumed you'll work in the lab for free)? Why did you choose this program versus other programs?

    Ask POIs: How do you view yourself as a mentor? How do you prefer to communicate with your advisees/lab (email, weekly meetings - this is to see IF this person even communicates with their lab regularly)? How many advisees do you have (if there are a lot, that may mean less quality mentorship)? Do you have regular individual meetings with advisees, or are these setup on an "as needed" basis? (Advisors who take the time to have regular meetings with their advisees are investing more time, which can mean better mentorship.) What are your advisees' career and research interests and how have you supported them in achieving/exploring those? --> I SOOOO wish I had asked this! It is easy for a potential advisor to say, "I view my role as supporting my students in whatever they want to achieve" but in reality have NO idea what their students' goals are and could care less because they are just focused on getting their minions to pump out more work for them. An advisor who can actually articulate what they know their students want to do, especially if it's not just a copy of their own research, means this is an advisor that at the very least listens to his/her students. I could have gone through my entire program without a single faculty member asking me what my research interests were and in fact, it was preferred that I didn't have any that would distract from The Current Lab Project. Also, what do most of your advisees go on to do? (Practice, research, academia? Can they name specific people and job titles? Do they even KNOW where their alumni are?)

    In general: Don't be shy about asking about funding streams, how funding is allocated, etc. if you are aiming for a Ph.D., ask how common multi-year fellowships are and what are the typical sources of these (central campus, grants, departmental, donors). Ask whether research assistantships or teaching assistantships are more common sources of employment. Ask how assistantship employment is determined - is this an open application process, or are certain opportunities open based on your advisor? (My program's assignment of assistantships is opaque and often appears arbitrary.) Ask your POI if any of their current projects are supported by grants. Ask how often advisees are supported in writing grants. If your POI doesn't seem to know much about grants or seem to care much about grant writing, then they likely don't care much about funding their students, unless their students are somehow funded elsewhere.
  7. cam88

    cam88 5+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    I would echo a lot of what previous people have already said! I focused a lot on logistical and research questions. I wish I would have asked more about students-- do students feel supported? do they feel like they are learning a lot in their courses? is the course load manageable? are students able to find the time to do hobbies? what is the work/life balance?
  8. blakjak12

    blakjak12 2+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2013
    Another one related to funding is to ask if you receive summer funding. Even for programs that provide stipends and tuition remission, many of them do not provide funding over the summer yet still expect you to be working/be around. So that is something worth asking!
  9. singasongofjoy

    singasongofjoy Psychologist 2+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2014
    I second waht Kadhir said about asking whether students would make the same decision again or if they would consider other options and why. Especially the upper year students.

Share This Page