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PhD interview - travel arrangement Watch

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    Hi,

    I got invited for an interview in Glasgow at 10am. I live in London and when I was looking through travel options, I found a flight that would get me there at 8:30am, so with 1.5h I guess I could make it on time (google showed that travel from the airport to the institute would take about 1h). Then I checked the time of getting to the airport from my home (1h). Adding everything in, I would need to to leave around 3:30/4am. I worry I will turn up quite tired and dishevelled (I plan to wear my formal suit).

    So I emailed them back asking if I could arrive a day earlier and stay overnight, my alternative was to take a coach, stay in hostel, all expenses kept to minimum. I hoped to meet them fresh and ready for the interview. The plan with the flight could also backfire if anything gets delayed, i.e. bus/train to airport or the plane itself so I can be late and that would be awful.

    Their replied that there are plenty of flights that would get me at 8:30am (yeah I found that) and that my statement is false (about not being able to arrive on time) and they sounded very upset at me. I get a feeling that I already made a wrong impression...

    Still, I'm not keen on travelling via plane but it seems they prefer I do that. Tbh I'm not pleased with their reply or their assumption that I tried to visit Glasgow at their expense (that was not my intention!). I'm desperate for a position, so should I just shut up and get those flight+train+buses tickets now and hope everything will be on time and I manage to still turn up all fresh and ready? But I'm already questioning what my relationship with them will be if I join them...
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    Multiple issues conflated here:

    1.Your anxiety about whether they don't like you
    2.Your anxiety about whether you will arrive on time
    3. Your concern that they might think you want to visit at their expense
    4.Your concern that your clothes will be crumpled.
    5. Your anxiety that your long-term relationship with the department might be affected.

    Focus on what they want from you, rather than all the other stuff.
    Get yourself there, by plane, change on arrival at the airport, and have a great interview.
    You probably just caught someone on a bad day, and there are probably lots of candidates, so just present yourself in the best possible light and make no further reference to it.
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    (Original post by EHK)
    Hi,

    I got invited for an interview in Glasgow at 10am. I live in London and when I was looking through travel options, I found a flight that would get me there at 8:30am, so with 1.5h I guess I could make it on time (google showed that travel from the airport to the institute would take about 1h). Then I checked the time of getting to the airport from my home (1h). Adding everything in, I would need to to leave around 3:30/4am. I worry I will turn up quite tired and dishevelled (I plan to wear my formal suit).

    So I emailed them back asking if I could arrive a day earlier and stay overnight, my alternative was to take a coach, stay in hostel, all expenses kept to minimum. I hoped to meet them fresh and ready for the interview. The plan with the flight could also backfire if anything gets delayed, i.e. bus/train to airport or the plane itself so I can be late and that would be awful.

    Their replied that there are plenty of flights that would get me at 8:30am (yeah I found that) and that my statement is false (about not being able to arrive on time) and they sounded very upset at me. I get a feeling that I already made a wrong impression...

    Still, I'm not keen on travelling via plane but it seems they prefer I do that. Tbh I'm not pleased with their reply or their assumption that I tried to visit Glasgow at their expense (that was not my intention!). I'm desperate for a position, so should I just shut up and get those flight+train+buses tickets now and hope everything will be on time and I manage to still turn up all fresh and ready? But I'm already questioning what my relationship with them will be if I join them...
    I'm not sure why you needed to email them to ask if you could arrive a day earlier? However their reply baffles me too, I'm not sure why they would have got so charged up about how you were going to get there.

    Personally I would want to arrive the day before, otherwise you wouldn't be allowing yourself any time for delays as you say.
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    I'm not sure what your work / life situation is, but is it possible to take a personal day (or, failing that, take a sick day), and get there the night before?

    Peculiar response from them.
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    This Glasgow thing sounds like ******** to me. I had an interview in Cardiff and I lived in St Andrews (so a similar distance) and I just said "I'm not travelling to Cardiff, Skype interview pls" and we just did that instead (of course I said it politer than that). Side note: I am about to start that very PhD so refusing to travel didn't affect my chances. My bestie did a Skype interview for Bristol and was also accepted. It's pretty normal when you live far away.

    Was it an admin person who got shirty with you or the supervisor? If it was the supervisor I would be wary about working with them. You will have a very close working relationship with them and if they can't accept reasonable requests on your side I don't think you will enjoy your PhD experience.

    I'm surprised they didn't just move the interview later in the day or offer you one over Skype. They seem pretty unaccomodating to be honest. If you have other PhD options and this attitude came from the supervisor I would definitely rethink going there (you may still wish to do the interview of course. In which case you'll have to absorb the hotel cost yourself, most likely).
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    (Original post by DrSocSciences)
    Multiple issues conflated here:

    1.Your anxiety about whether they don't like you
    2.Your anxiety about whether you will arrive on time
    3. Your concern that they might think you want to visit at their expense
    4.Your concern that your clothes will be crumpled.
    5. Your anxiety that your long-term relationship with the department might be affected.

    Focus on what they want from you, rather than all the other stuff.
    Get yourself there, by plane, change on arrival at the airport, and have a great interview.
    You probably just caught someone on a bad day, and there are probably lots of candidates, so just present yourself in the best possible light and make no further reference to it.
    This is my very first PhD interview so I admit I'm very concerned and nervous about it and their reply quite shattered me. It was written in a very angry tone and the content of the reply made me feel embarrassed and belittled, which I don't think I deserved that.
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    (Original post by EHK)
    This is my very first PhD interview so I admit I'm very concerned and nervous about it and their reply quite shattered me. It was written in a very angry tone and the content of the reply made me feel embarrassed and belittled, which I don't think I deserved that.
    In all honesty, and setting aside the experience that you have just had, it's necessary to be tough to do a PhD. There is an unbelievable amount of pressure on you, and it requires immense tenacity and resilience. To be so shaken at this initial contact would make me question whether I had the necessary resilience. Personally, I don't buy the whole "it's my very first PhD interview" approach: I only had one interview, it took an hour, and was with a panel of 6 people, before getting a scholarship. They will only want people who can handle the reality, not delicate violets.
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    (Original post by jelly1000)
    I'm not sure why you needed to email them to ask if you could arrive a day earlier? However their reply baffles me too, I'm not sure why they would have got so charged up about how you were going to get there.

    Personally I would want to arrive the day before, otherwise you wouldn't be allowing yourself any time for delays as you say.
    This is my first invitation for an interview and I asked my friends who went through a similar process asking about the travel expenses. Most of them told me to keep my travel expenses to minimum (that was my intention right from the beginning) but when I checked costs of flights vs train/coaches it would turn out very similar if not even cheaper with coaches but that would be if I travel a day before and stay in a very cheap hostel (no problem for me).

    Since I'm completely new to this and some of my friends said they asked in advance (one asked what is the max refund on travel expenses even) and I felt it was a polite thing to do, so I emailed them back asking if this arrangement would be acceptable. Their reply really baffled me and made me feel like I have done something bad and that I have insulted them.

    I don't want to risk, the plane option includes trains and buses changes and they all happen to be very close in timing so I'm not kidding when I say I'm screwed if one of them gets delayed.
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    (Original post by DrSocSciences)
    In all honesty, and setting aside the experience that you have just had, it's necessary to be tough to do a PhD. There is an unbelievable amount of pressure on you, and it requires immense tenacity and resilience. To be so shaken at this initial contact would make me question whether I had the necessary resilience. Personally, I don't buy the whole "it's my very first PhD interview" approach: I only had one interview, it took an hour, and was with a panel of 6 people, before getting a scholarship. They will only want people who can handle the reality, not delicate violets.
    I know PhD is very touch and I have done enough of lab work experience to know that it requites genuine commitment and resilience. What I don't want is a bad, tensed relationship with my supervisor and I don't want to be treated like some crap. A very minimum of respect and manners should be there.

    If you received an insulting email, I'm sure you would want to defend yourself. It's not a matter of being a delicate shrinking violet but how you treat another human being who you might work with for many years.
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    (Original post by etoile89)
    I'm not sure what your work / life situation is, but is it possible to take a personal day (or, failing that, take a sick day), and get there the night before?

    Peculiar response from them.
    I don't have any commitments that limit me now. I'm thinking of taking perhaps a sleeper train/coach instead of running like mad to catch the flight. I would be there at 6am, that's plenty of time for me to do any last minute preparation without the rush.
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    I'm confused: why would you need to tell them how you're getting to Glasgow and when? How is it their business? Are they paying for your travel costs?
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    (Original post by EHK)
    I don't have any commitments that limit me now. I'm thinking of taking perhaps a sleeper train/coach instead of running like mad to catch the flight. I would be there at 6am, that's plenty of time for me to do any last minute preparation without the rush.
    That's a good solution, and the Caledonian Sleeper is a great service. Just don't whinge like an undergrad. Good luck.
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    (Original post by monkyvirus)
    This Glasgow thing sounds like ******** to me. I had an interview in Cardiff and I lived in St Andrews (so a similar distance) and I just said "I'm not travelling to Cardiff, Skype interview pls" and we just did that instead (of course I said it politer than that). Side note: I am about to start that very PhD so refusing to travel didn't affect my chances. My bestie did a Skype interview for Bristol and was also accepted. It's pretty normal when you live far away.

    Was it an admin person who got shirty with you or the supervisor? If it was the supervisor I would be wary about working with them. You will have a very close working relationship with them and if they can't accept reasonable requests on your side I don't think you will enjoy your PhD experience.

    I'm surprised they didn't just move the interview later in the day or offer you one over Skype. They seem pretty unaccomodating to be honest. If you have other PhD options and this attitude came from the supervisor I would definitely rethink going there (you may still wish to do the interview of course. In which case you'll have to absorb the hotel cost yourself, most likely).
    I did ask for a later time slot or an alternative in the form of a Skype interview but they insisted that I come to meet them personally and that's the only timing they have for me. It's quite a distance for me to travel but as much as I'm actually happy that I can go there and see everything with my own eyes (I want to take as much of experience as I can from this interview), I think they are asking a lot to travel pretty much the whole night just for perhaps 1h of talk. I do want the position but what I asked for wasn't so unreasonable.

    The reply came from the main supervisor and it really showed me the nature of a potential relationship I might have if I join the group. I heard stories about horror supervisors and I do not want to spend my PhD being treated like crap. PhD is already very hard on its own and I have seen the misery of my PhD friends who were abused by their supervisors
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    (Original post by WBZ144)
    I'm confused: why would you need to tell them how you're getting to Glasgow and when? How is it their business? Are they paying for your travel costs?
    Yes, they are covering my travel expenses so I thought it would be better to know how much is acceptable. I guess that was my mistake as a rookie.
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    (Original post by DrSocSciences)
    That's a good solution, and the Caledonian Sleeper is a great service. Just don't whinge like an undergrad. Good luck.
    Thank you. Sorry to whine but I literally just graduated from my undergrad studies, not that it justifies anything, I still got a lot to learn.
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    (Original post by EHK)
    I did ask for a later time slot or an alternative in the form of a Skype interview but they insisted that I come to meet them personally and that's the only timing they have for me. It's quite a distance for me to travel but as much as I'm actually happy that I can go there and see everything with my own eyes (I want to take as much of experience as I can from this interview), I think they are asking a lot to travel pretty much the whole night just for perhaps 1h of talk. I do want the position but what I asked for wasn't so unreasonable.

    The reply came from the main supervisor and it really showed me the nature of a potential relationship I might have if I join the group. I heard stories about horror supervisors and I do not want to spend my PhD being treated like crap. PhD is already very hard on its own and I have seen the misery of my PhD friends who were abused by their supervisors
    (Original post by EHK)
    This is my first invitation for an interview and I asked my friends who went through a similar process asking about the travel expenses. Most of them told me to keep my travel expenses to minimum (that was my intention right from the beginning) but when I checked costs of flights vs train/coaches it would turn out very similar if not even cheaper with coaches but that would be if I travel a day before and stay in a very cheap hostel (no problem for me).

    Since I'm completely new to this and some of my friends said they asked in advance (one asked what is the max refund on travel expenses even) and I felt it was a polite thing to do, so I emailed them back asking if this arrangement would be acceptable. Their reply really baffled me and made me feel like I have done something bad and that I have insulted them.

    I don't want to risk, the plane option includes trains and buses changes and they all happen to be very close in timing so I'm not kidding when I say I'm screwed if one of them gets delayed.
    Oh I see, I didn't realise they would cover travel expenses, I can see why you asked now. I would be inclined to question whether you really want to go to that uni now with them being so rude.
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    (Original post by DrSocSciences)
    In all honesty, and setting aside the experience that you have just had, it's necessary to be tough to do a PhD. There is an unbelievable amount of pressure on you, and it requires immense tenacity and resilience. To be so shaken at this initial contact would make me question whether I had the necessary resilience. Personally, I don't buy the whole "it's my very first PhD interview" approach: I only had one interview, it took an hour, and was with a panel of 6 people, before getting a scholarship. They will only want people who can handle the reality, not delicate violets.
    Why precisely is it wise to work for unreasonable people? Part of being an adult is asserting reasonable requests and expecting them to be accepted, negotiated or politely rebuffed (none of which happened here).

    It isn't a badge of pride to jump through silly hoops to secure a PhD place or any other job for that matter.

    (Original post by EHK)
    The reply came from the main supervisor and it really showed me the nature of a potential relationship I might have if I join the group. I heard stories about horror supervisors and I do not want to spend my PhD being treated like crap. PhD is already very hard on its own and I have seen the misery of my PhD friends who were abused by their supervisors
    Well they sound charming....

    I would really start looking at other opportunities if you haven't already. However the interview experience would still be valuable. Just remember you're assessing whether you want to work with them as much as they're assessing you.
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    Then do it -- if the interview is early, leave early.

    (Original post by EHK)
    I don't have any commitments that limit me now. I'm thinking of taking perhaps a sleeper train/coach instead of running like mad to catch the flight. I would be there at 6am, that's plenty of time for me to do any last minute preparation without the rush.
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    (Original post by monkyvirus)
    Why precisely is it wise to work for unreasonable people?
    Just wow. That's not how the real world works. A lot of employers are unreasonable, but they're the ones who enable you to meet your own goals in life. Like paying off mortgages.
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    (Original post by DrSocSciences)
    Just wow. That's not how the real world works. A lot of employers are unreasonable, but they're the ones who enable you to meet your own goals in life. Like paying off mortgages.
    Or you could work with reasonable people? Reasonable people will still pay you and they exist.

    PhD's aren't so competitive you have to take the first one offered if you think it's a bad fit.
 
 
 
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