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Mentor Resources

Interviewing UROP students

Most UROP interviews are more informal than job or graduate school interviews. And remember, for some folks this is the first time they are being interviewed and it may be your first time as an interviewer!

Before the interview

  • Make sure that you have sent a calendar invite to the student (with meeting location, Zoom link, or other meeting details).
  • Read over their resume and highlight any concerns or gaps you may have for this position
  • Be prepared to know about logistics of the position, such as working hours and if your laboratory is offering it for pay or credit.

During the interview

You should gain knowledge of:

  • The student’s time availability
  • Their current knowledge and abilities
  • Their passion for the project
  • What they have to learn during the project
  • Their goal(s) for the experience and what you could do to help them accomplish those goal(s)

Inclusive Interview Practices

Interviews can be great when done right and should have inclusivity in mind. Here are some thoughtful ways to conduct an inclusive UROP interview:

  • Interview with a “growth mindset” – UROP students are there to learn how to research, the field, and gain skills. They should not be expected to be experts and know everything. They should build skills through the UROP, so look for research potential, rather than just existing skills or experience.
  • Focus on answers given rather than non-verbal cues (handshake, eye contact, facial gestures), which can be a gatekeeping tactic.
  • Keep in mind an affinity bias – a bias towards people who are like yourself, regardless of qualifications. We all have these biases so acknowledging them is critical when finding and evaluating candidates.
  • Make a list of skills and abilities you need the student to possess to make progress on the project with the required timeframe and ask questions related to those skills and abilities.
  • Avoid questions with one “correct” answer. You shouldn’t screen out students based on their answer to one question.
  • Have a baseline of questions you ask all candidates. While the interview and conversation will evolve, it is important to make sure you ask similar questions of all students.

Dos and Don’ts of a UROP Interview

  • Do ask about their comfort level with different relevant frameworks and tools in your field.
  • Do ask about relevant coursework they have taken and class projects and field knowledge.
  • Do ask about previous experience on their resume.
  • Don’t ask too many technical “interview” questions — undergrads don’t typically have time to do a lot of technical prep.
  • Don’t have an interview for more than an hour.
  • Don’t have the student do major prep work for the interview unless it’s just reviewing a website or something similar.