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application_and_interview_process [2020/07/07 02:05]
nagaraj [Timeline]
application_and_interview_process [2020/07/07 02:18] (current)
nagaraj changed headers
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-====== Timeline ​======+==== Timeline ====
 To succeed in the PhD application process, you should give yourself ample time to prepare. As we will detail in the following section, there are numerous parts of the application. Some parts can be done relatively quickly – such as finding and uploading a transcript – and other parts require serious time commitment – such as doing research with faculty members.  ​ To succeed in the PhD application process, you should give yourself ample time to prepare. As we will detail in the following section, there are numerous parts of the application. Some parts can be done relatively quickly – such as finding and uploading a transcript – and other parts require serious time commitment – such as doing research with faculty members.  ​
  
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 We recommend that applicants get ahead of the schedule for applying. One faculty member at HBS, who completed their PhD at Stanford in 3 years, advised that you should be done with almost all parts of the application by August or September (which is even more aggressive than our timeline above). Front-loading your application efforts provides more ample time for revision and can reduce the stress during the final few weeks of submission. We recommend that applicants get ahead of the schedule for applying. One faculty member at HBS, who completed their PhD at Stanford in 3 years, advised that you should be done with almost all parts of the application by August or September (which is even more aggressive than our timeline above). Front-loading your application efforts provides more ample time for revision and can reduce the stress during the final few weeks of submission.
  
-====== Choosing Where to Apply ======+==== Choosing Where to Apply ====
 One of the most important steps before beginning the application is to identify the PhD programs to which you want to apply. In general, applicants should first select their broader field of interest (e.g., accounting, finance, business economics, strategy, etc.). Next, they should begin to identify some questions or topics they find interesting (e.g., social networks, status hierarchy, VC flow of capital, etc.). Finally, after selecting their intended field and topics of study, they should identify the top programs (and specific faculty within those programs) that match their own particular research interests. One of the most important steps before beginning the application is to identify the PhD programs to which you want to apply. In general, applicants should first select their broader field of interest (e.g., accounting, finance, business economics, strategy, etc.). Next, they should begin to identify some questions or topics they find interesting (e.g., social networks, status hierarchy, VC flow of capital, etc.). Finally, after selecting their intended field and topics of study, they should identify the top programs (and specific faculty within those programs) that match their own particular research interests.
  
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 Finally, reaching out to faculty members of interest can be a useful way to gain information about programs and to introduce yourself to potential advisors. Because faculty members are busy, we would suggest reaching out to those faculty members with whom you share A) a clear research alignment, B) a connected trait (e.g., same undergrad school, same hometown, etc.), or C) a mutual connection. In general, faculty members are often open to talking with serious applicants and discussing their own research. Whenever possible, in-person meetings are more effective and produce a more positive memory than meetings online. While reaching out to faculty members can be helpful in the application process, it is not strictly necessary. For example, Megan did not contact faculty members at her target programs prior to applying. Finally, reaching out to faculty members of interest can be a useful way to gain information about programs and to introduce yourself to potential advisors. Because faculty members are busy, we would suggest reaching out to those faculty members with whom you share A) a clear research alignment, B) a connected trait (e.g., same undergrad school, same hometown, etc.), or C) a mutual connection. In general, faculty members are often open to talking with serious applicants and discussing their own research. Whenever possible, in-person meetings are more effective and produce a more positive memory than meetings online. While reaching out to faculty members can be helpful in the application process, it is not strictly necessary. For example, Megan did not contact faculty members at her target programs prior to applying.
  
-===== Ways to distinguish programs=====+==== Ways to distinguish programs====
 There are numerous ways to distinguish programs. We identify a few axes to consider when deciding where to apply. Oftentimes it will be difficult, if not impossible, to understand these differences between programs without speaking to people in them or in the field. There are numerous ways to distinguish programs. We identify a few axes to consider when deciding where to apply. Oftentimes it will be difficult, if not impossible, to understand these differences between programs without speaking to people in them or in the field.
  
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 An ideal program will have a mix of both senior and junior faculty with whom you can collaborate on research so that you can balance the pros and cons of each. An ideal program will have a mix of both senior and junior faculty with whom you can collaborate on research so that you can balance the pros and cons of each.
  
-===== To how many programs should I apply?=====+==== To how many programs should I apply====
 In general, we recommend applying to more programs rather than fewer, given the low admission rates at each of these programs (roughly 4-7%) and the low marginal cost of applying to an additional program. In our case, Stephen applied to 7 programs and Megan applied to 11 programs. Our survey respondents applied to an average of 8 programs (with a standard deviation of 5.5). That said, we do not think you should apply to any programs that you would not consider attending – this is a waste of effort on your part and potentially could block out another deserving candidate. In general, we recommend applying to more programs rather than fewer, given the low admission rates at each of these programs (roughly 4-7%) and the low marginal cost of applying to an additional program. In our case, Stephen applied to 7 programs and Megan applied to 11 programs. Our survey respondents applied to an average of 8 programs (with a standard deviation of 5.5). That said, we do not think you should apply to any programs that you would not consider attending – this is a waste of effort on your part and potentially could block out another deserving candidate.
  
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 The vast majority of interviews take place virtually (e.g., via a video call), with only a couple of programs opting to fly candidates out for in-person interviews. If you are invited to an in-person interview, schools generally provide hotel lodging and pay for all travel expenses. The most common form that interviews take is a 30 minute virtual meeting with one or more professors (often faculty members you mentioned in your application),​ where they will ask you a handful of questions and leave time for you to ask questions of them. Often, you will be asked to interview individually with multiple professors. For Megan, the highest number of interviews for a single program was seven (at an in-person interview day), the lowest (aside from those with no interviews at all) was two, and the average was around three. For Stephen, only one program had more than one interview. All others were a single interview with a few faculty members or no interviews at all. Other applicants report a wide array of interview experiences,​ with some having only minimal interviews (and no more than one per program) and others having many more interviews for the same program due to their interest in working with specific faculty members. The vast majority of interviews take place virtually (e.g., via a video call), with only a couple of programs opting to fly candidates out for in-person interviews. If you are invited to an in-person interview, schools generally provide hotel lodging and pay for all travel expenses. The most common form that interviews take is a 30 minute virtual meeting with one or more professors (often faculty members you mentioned in your application),​ where they will ask you a handful of questions and leave time for you to ask questions of them. Often, you will be asked to interview individually with multiple professors. For Megan, the highest number of interviews for a single program was seven (at an in-person interview day), the lowest (aside from those with no interviews at all) was two, and the average was around three. For Stephen, only one program had more than one interview. All others were a single interview with a few faculty members or no interviews at all. Other applicants report a wide array of interview experiences,​ with some having only minimal interviews (and no more than one per program) and others having many more interviews for the same program due to their interest in working with specific faculty members.
  
-=====Common questions and preparation=====+====Common questions and preparation====
 Interviews for PhD programs are very similar to interviewing for competitive jobs, and the questions are usually fairly standard and intuitive. [[https://​docs.google.com/​document/​d/​1JWzMdFJiC_DwdzIrp4e8_aSqlehnQp6aqR-khkaO1fg/​edit?​usp=sharing|Here is a list of all of the questions we were asked]] in our interviews (schools anonymized). Some commonly asked questions (and their equivalent versions) include: Interviews for PhD programs are very similar to interviewing for competitive jobs, and the questions are usually fairly standard and intuitive. [[https://​docs.google.com/​document/​d/​1JWzMdFJiC_DwdzIrp4e8_aSqlehnQp6aqR-khkaO1fg/​edit?​usp=sharing|Here is a list of all of the questions we were asked]] in our interviews (schools anonymized). Some commonly asked questions (and their equivalent versions) include:
   *Tell me about yourself. Tell me about your background and interests.   *Tell me about yourself. Tell me about your background and interests.
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 During your interviews, do your best to have fun and enjoy the experience! This is a rare and precious opportunity to discuss exciting ideas with some of the most influential researchers in the field. Though not required, it is recommended to follow up with a brief note thanking your interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. During your interviews, do your best to have fun and enjoy the experience! This is a rare and precious opportunity to discuss exciting ideas with some of the most influential researchers in the field. Though not required, it is recommended to follow up with a brief note thanking your interviewer for taking the time to meet with you.
  
-======Path to PhD: the Rise of the Predoctoral Research Job======+====Path to PhD: the Rise of the Predoctoral Research Job====
 As we met our potential incoming cohorts during school visits, we started to notice a trend: many successful applicants had one to two years of post-undergraduate,​ predoctoral research experience working as a lab manager or research associate at a business school. At one school, for example, of the six students accepted across the macro/micro organizational behavior program, only one (Stephen) had not previously worked in a research job. In our survey of admitted students, 61% had worked in predoctoral research jobs before applying. Mirroring the rise of postdocs on the back end of the PhD, there seems to be a proliferation of these predoc positions, likely for the same reason: candidates seeking to differentiate themselves and enhance their credibility as a researcher in an increasingly competitive field. ​ As we met our potential incoming cohorts during school visits, we started to notice a trend: many successful applicants had one to two years of post-undergraduate,​ predoctoral research experience working as a lab manager or research associate at a business school. At one school, for example, of the six students accepted across the macro/micro organizational behavior program, only one (Stephen) had not previously worked in a research job. In our survey of admitted students, 61% had worked in predoctoral research jobs before applying. Mirroring the rise of postdocs on the back end of the PhD, there seems to be a proliferation of these predoc positions, likely for the same reason: candidates seeking to differentiate themselves and enhance their credibility as a researcher in an increasingly competitive field. ​