Interview guidelines

Expert panel PhD grants Strategic Basic Research (SB)

Candidates whose application is eligible will receive an invitation for an interview at the FWO premises, at a given date (between Nov. 6 and Dec 7, 2017). They can (via doodle) choose their own 30’ time slot. Applicants are required to be physically present at the meeting.  Travel and accommodation costs related to the interview will not be covered by the FWO. The applicants should present themselves (with a valid ID or passport) at the reception desk at least 20 minutes before the start of the interview.

The SB expert panel typically consists of 5 or 6 members. At least one expert is directly involved in research and development in an industrial context. More information can be found in the FWO peer review regulations. The names of the panel members will be communicated before the meeting.

Each SB Expert panel is overseen by a representative of the FWO, who, as moderator, also acts as session chair. He/she may be an FWO policy officer or an adviser of the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Interview format

  • Short (5 minutes) presentation by the candidate (‘elevator pitch’)
  • Up to 15 minutes interactive discussion with the expert panel
  • Evaluation and scoring by the panel (without the candidate)

These time limits will have to be followed very strictly!

The pitch and interview language is English!

Elevator pitch

The interview starts with a short presentation (“elevator pitch”, max. 5 minutes). In order to make good use of the allocated time, you should properly prepare the presentation of your project.

You may use a (PowerPoint or pdf) presentation, to be sent to at least one week before the interview.

No specific template is foreseen. The floor is yours! Your pitch should be concise and clear, and add value to your project proposal. Two months or more have passed since the submitting of your proposal, you might have acquired a deeper insight in the topic, new ideas…

During the presentation, ‘live’ your PhD project. You can elaborate and highlight your personal strengths, the quality of your proposal and the application potential, always keeping a critical mindset though. You can as well pro-actively raise a number of discussion items, which allows you to, in a way, take some ‘control’ on the forthcoming interrogation.

Interactive discussion  

The presentation is followed by an interrogation and a discussion with the panel members, who will seek to assess your qualities and basic knowledge as a PhD student, as well as your insight and vision on the project proposal and the potential economic applications.   Be prepared to be assessed on your critical mindset and motivation. Questions asked may be specific as well as rather generic. The experts may put you to the grill, so do not get discouraged by difficult questions…

Carefully read the scoring descriptors that will be used by the evaluators.

After the interview

The interview is followed by a discussion between the experts, who will assign consensual scores to the various evaluation criteria. The results of the interview will be taken into account when discussing and evaluating the proposal, but still in combination with the written application, the pre-reports  and the remarks made by the panel members during the meeting.

All candidates will be informed as soon as a selection decision is made by the Board of Trustees (December 14, 2017). The results will also be published on the FWO website.

All candidates will later receive more specific feedback on the decision.

Technical details regarding electronic presentations

You can make use of a PowerPoint presentation (can also be sent as pdf). Presentation files should be sent to the FWO ( at the latest one week before the actual presentations, enabling us to proceed fluently with the presentations, without technical issues.

As a precautionary measure you are requested to prepare an USB stick with a pdf file of your presentation without any movie clips. In exceptional cases, where such a clip is really necessary, you are required to bring your own laptop. However please keep in mind that this alternative may not function correctly as we cannot guarantee any compatibility between different systems.

There is no need to bring printed presentation to the interview.

The PC in the interview room runs the Windows 7 or Windows 10 operating system and has installed Microsoft PowerPoint 2013, Acrobat Pro 9 and Acrobat Reader X. Also for videos, Windows Media Player is installed by default on the computer.

While designing your PowerPoint presentation, you should be aware of the fact that it will be presented on the wall through beamer and it is quite likely that it will not be exactly the same as you see on your screen - so you may use more contrast colours in order to provide a more visible projected presentation for the panel members.