As a veteran interviewer of PhD candidates, I’ve come across a variety of interesting anecdotes. One candidate told me about the time he hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail, while another shared how he conducted fieldwork in the Amazon rainforest.
One candidate showed up in a tuxedo, stating he wanted to make a good impression. Another shared how they were inspired to pursue their research after overcoming a serious illness.
I once had a candidate bring a live bird to the interview to demonstrate a research technique. Another brought a guitar and played a song they had written about their research.
One candidate shared how they overcame language barriers while conducting research in a foreign country. Another spoke about how they had to navigate complex bureaucratic processes to gain access to their research site.
I’ve also come across some humorous anecdotes, such as the candidate who accidentally set their experiment on fire, or the one who spilled coffee all over their notes during the interview.
While these anecdotes provide some entertainment, they also reveal important qualities in candidates. The candidate who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail demonstrated perseverance and determination, while the one who conducted research in the Amazon showed adaptability and resilience.
The candidate who overcame a serious illness showed a strong sense of purpose and motivation, while the one who brought a live bird demonstrated creativity and resourcefulness.
Overall, these anecdotes remind me of the diverse experiences and backgrounds that PhD candidates bring to the table. They also highlight the importance of looking beyond a candidate’s academic credentials to assess their potential for success.
As an interviewer, it’s important to create a welcoming environment that encourages candidates to share their stories and experiences. This can provide valuable insights into their character, motivation, and potential for success in graduate school.