Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join Isaiah as he breaks down three of his favorite tactics to keep cool and composed in the face of a tough interview question

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode:

  • First, Isaiah explores why PhDs in particular are prone to anxiety about how to answer a tricky interview question
  • Next, Isaiah reassures that nerves are normal, but controlling them is how smart PhDs make a positive, memorable impression on hiring manages
  • And finally, Isaiah shares three tactics PhDs can use if an interview question threatens to derail them

From This Week’s Show…

Don’t Let Nerves And An Unexpected Interview Question Derail You

When it comes to industry interviews, knowing is half the battle. 

What the set-up will be, what attire is appropriate, and what questions you’ll be asked – these are all things PhDs fret over in the days and hours before an interview. 

In a survey conducted by The Muse, 88% of participants reported being most worried about the quality of their answers and/or having a memory lapse. 

In other words, most people are afraid of messing up their answers to interview questions. 

And for PhDs, these concerns are often amplified. 

That’s because, let’s face it, as a PhD you may be slightly obsessed with perfection, and while interviews are difficult for any job, interviewing for a PhD-level position can be particularly grueling. 

Here’s How To Remain Calm When Faced With A Difficult Interview Question 

I’ll give you 3 tactics. 

First, you should pause. 

In most cases, the problem isn’t that you don’t have an answer; it’s that you’re too nervous to concentrate. 

This is where stalling techniques come in handy. 

You could say something like “That’s a really great question. Let me think on that.” 

Or, if you aren’t sure if your line of thinking is on the right track, you could ask them to repeat the question or elaborate a bit more. 

This gives you additional time to collect your thoughts. 

What you don’t want to do is sit there umming and ahhing with your mouth open. 

Employers know that some questions are challenging – they’re not looking for the perfect answer, they just want to know that you’re not going to fall apart in the face of a challenge. 

The second tactic is, if you still can’t think of a good answer, don’t hesitate to think out loud. This will show employers how you come to conclusions.

Say you’re asked, “How would you handle an employee that isn’t meeting expectations?”

Maybe you haven’t encountered this situation before, you could say, “That’s a really great question. While I haven’t encountered this exact situation, I‘ve faced a similar situation in which XYZ happened. This is just me thinking out loud, but I would…” and so on. 

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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