Pre-Interview Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a few questions and answers that many students have asked after being invited to the JHU BME PhD interviews:

What are my chances of getting accepted if I am invited to interviews?

There is no easy answer for this. It depends on many factors, especially on the interactions between students and professors during interviews. Some years have had very high acceptance rates, while others have had much lower rates. There is never a set number or percentage, although professors do make their decisions based on how much funding is available to host several or just a couple of new PhD students. Considering the cost, time, and energy that goes into your visits, the department hopes to offer as many acceptances as possible. Considering many other highly ranked schools have also invited you to their interviews, the hope is that you find a good fit and match with our faculty and students here.

I have multiple other interviews I am trying schedule with other graduate programs. Is this BME PhD program flexible if I can only make it for part of the interview week?

Speaking as current students, we highly discourage trying this. Not only will it be exhausting to you due to travel and anxiety, but it may also give the impression to the department that you are not as interested in being here as they hoped. Yes, current students here have done this, but from experience we can say that it will be a more successful and pleasant visit for you if you complete the full interview week here. If interview weeks overlap with both of our listed choices, then we strongly advise that you pick one to attend fully, and not try to do both. 

I am not available for either of the JHU BME PhD interview weeks. Can I successfully schedule an entirely different time for my interview visit?

The short answer is no. Generally, our advice is to do what is needed to attend one of the interview weeks. In rare instances where students live very close to the University, some exceptions can be made. However, you would miss the entire experience of the normal recruitment week, and depending on the circumstance, you may be giving the wrong impression. We all had tough schedules during those times. We advise that you clear your schedule as well as you can, and attend the interview week as listed.

I have been told that Johns Hopkins BME is really cut-throat in terms of competition and demands. Is this really what it is like as a graduate student there?

No, this is thankfully absolutely false. Exceptions always exist, but the vast majority of graduate students love the atmosphere and the strong level of collaboration. In truth, everyone is so busy trying to focus on their own work that there really isn't time to worry about what others are doing competitively. If anything, you compete with yourself since your work is so specialized in research. As scientists, we all build off of the ideas and work of others. Isaac Newton once expressed, "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." In the same way, we all work hard because we are passionate about our research, but the general spirit here is collaboration, standing on the shoulders of other great researchers. You will find that in most cases, faculty here work together with the faculty of many other great schools. 

Will we have to share hotel rooms? If so, can I opt to have my own room?

Almost everyone will be sharing a room with another interviewee. If you have a significant reason for needing to have your own room, you will need to contact the department manager, Hong Lan. Otherwise, you will be asked to share a hotel suite with another student. There are many reasons for this, and the most important among them is that we want to help visitors find a 'friend' they can pair with throughout the interview process. 

If I have expenses that come up and I need to pay out of pocket for things during my visit, am I able to be reimbursed?

To a degree, yes you can. In most cases, every activity you take part in during the interview week is covered by the department ahead of time. The only exception is for those who stay the extra night in the home of a current JHU student wherein the stay is free, but dine out food and drinks may not be. In some cases, hosts will take their guest out to visit other places Baltimore; such expenses will not be covered by the department without prior approval. 

I have been looking at the interviewing faculty webpages for their laboratories. The information has not been updated in some time, and some professors have very little. How do I get more information to choose the right professors to interview with?

Unfortunately, some professors are terrible at maintaining their own websites. This is not to say that their research is poor. On the contrary, faculty with minimal website information have amazing world-renowned research and publications. A flashy website means very little and has no correlation to funding or success. Your choice of interviewing faculty should come down to how well you fit and match with them and their research. One way to find out what a professor has been up to is to use PubMed and Google Scholar to find their most recent publications. Very often you can search through YouTube to find talks given by the professors about their recent work. If you can't seem to find very much information, email our faculty to ask them more about what they do. 

Will there be 'tough' interview questions when we interview with JHU BME Faculty?

Yes, some faculty LOVE to ask problem solving questions. If you are interviewing with our Neurosciences or Computational Biology faculty, they are known to ask easy, moderate, or impossibly difficult questions during your interview with them. While they have their own reasons for this, the common perception is that they are trying to gauge your problem solving skills and how well you can communicate your train of thought. It is one thing to answer a very complex question; it is quite another to explain how you got that answer to someone else. Most other research area faculty tend to ask questions centered on your experience and interests. However there will still be challenging questions with regard to what your research work was and why it was experimentally designed a certain way. You should ideally know about every aspect of a research project you have previously been a part of, and should definitely know every aspect of a publication with your name on it. Most times a professor will ask what your role was, and then proceed to ask why your research was designed a particular way. Know these reasons, and come in with a strong knowledge of projects you have listed on your resume.