Fellowship applications – 100 Q&A questions

UK Fellowship applications – 100 Q&A questions

To prepare for my BBSRC Discovery Fellowship interview, I reached out to several people who had previously been interviewed for it (and similar UK fellowships). Many of them generously shared with me the questions they were asked, as well as ones that other applicants were asked before them. I compiled all of them into a big “master list” to help prepare myself for the interview. It was a true life-saver! I hope it will be of some help to other people.

Click here to see the list: “Fellowship applications – 100 Q&A questions”

From there, you can view/download the list to edit, add more questions, and whatever else you think might be useful. Questions are sorted by category (science/proposal, you as a person, etc).

Note that different funders tend to ask different types of questions. This list has a strong focus on BBSRC/NERC fellowship interviews.

How I personally used the list to prepare, and a few recommendations:

  • I added more questions about my scientific proposal to the list that I pretty much knew were coming. These can include “obvious” peer-review-type questions, things you often get asked during seminars, or when you present your project to others, comments you have received during the peer-review stage of your application, things YOU would ask if you were in the committee, and more.
  • Every day, I’d randomly pick a few questions and write out my answers for them (in bullet point format) in a word document. I’d read and edit the word document periodically to committ the main talking points to memory. This was super useful for helping my brain formulate good and structured responses while high on adrenalin during the actual interview.
  • Organize mock interviews where you present your project and have an audience of e.g. your peers grill you with questions. Distribute the list of questions to the audience in advance, so they can pick from the list if they want to. Ask them for feedback about your answers afterwards: which answers did they find convincing, which not so much? Highlight those questions on your list and practise answering them separately. And of course: if they come up with questions you weren’t prepared for, add them to the list!
  • Organize mock interviews with senior people, ideally ones who are familiar with the specific fellowship you’re applying for (e.g. by having sat on a selection committee before). They are experienced at this stuff, so you don’t need to send them a list of questions to ask. Instead: prepare as best as you can for these mock interviews, and reserve 10 min at the end to go over questions they asked you, and ask them for feedback on your answers. Add any new or especially tricky questions to the list, and practise answering them.

Good luck!