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Cranfield University

PhD in leadership and management

Hi, does anyone know what the PhD application process is like at University of Cranfield I have been invited to the informal chat and was looking for guidance on the sort of questions they ask and how I can move to the next stage.
Feeling very nervous
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by JCMwEdi
Hi, does anyone know what the PhD application process is like at University of Cranfield I have been invited to the informal chat and was looking for guidance on the sort of questions they ask and how I can move to the next stage.
Feeling very nervous

Hi there!

I am doing a PhD in Agrifood, so a different topic than Management, but I think the application process is often very similar. I can at least share what I experienced :smile:

What happened to me, was I applied to a project I found advertised on In that application, I included my CV, and my personal statement.
I was then invited to interview for the project.
With many PhDs, there is an informal 'get to know you' chat with the supervisory team before the interview. I did this with other applications, but went directly to the interview stage for this application.

With the 'informal chat' it was more of a two-way flow of information, and I asked about working styles, finding out areas of interest, life in the department, etc.
In turn, they asked me about specific areas of interest in my previous experience, we spoke at length about one technique I had previously used and new areas of study that enabled.
For my Cranfield interview, this discussion came at the end of the interview, where you will always be given the opportunity to ask questions and start discussions about things important to you.

After the 'informal discussion', there will be a more formal interview.
This typically involves several supervisors. In Cranfield, you will have one primary supervisor, and at least one secondary supervisor. This is a 'safety net' in case anything was to happen to your supervisor that would prevent them fulfilling their role (e.g. prolonged illness or absence), but it also really helps in giving you several opinions, different inputs, different points of view. Trust me, there will be lots of healthy discussion to prepare you for your viva!
If there is an industry partner, which is common with Cranfield, they will typically have a representative in the interview too.

Once you get to the interview, there's several things to expect. Formal introductions to the interview panel, you will probably introduce yourself, and then the questions will begin. I had a mix of 'typical' interview questions (meaning those that could apply to any type of job interview), like "What is your biggest strength/weakness?", to the common PhD interview questions (e.g. "Why do you want to do a PhD) that can easily be found online, to more specific questions about the project, my experiences (based on my CV), and others.
I'm not an interview expert, but there's loads of helpful guidance online that can help prepare for this stage, like this one:

Depending on the funding you have applied for, as a part of your project, you may then need to wait a while for the funders to approve candidates, there may be more rounds of interviews, but your supervisor can let you know about that process.

Finding out if you have been accepted can be either a very quick, or a very slow process. I was offered my PhD within hours of my interview, but this is not the typical timeframe. Usually they will tell you during the interview whether the supervisors need to wait for funding approval (which will delay the offer), or give some indication of how many days/weeks you can expect to hear back in.

In my case, I had to sign a contract between both Cranfield University, myself, and my industry sponsor. This was before I started in Cranfield, but again will be facilitated by your supervisor. It will outline your salary, expectations, issues relating to IP and publications, etc.

Once you start in Cranfield, there's more paperwork! (I promise I'm not trying to put you off, unfortunately every job offer, PhD, MSc, etc will require lots of paperwork!)
The first week is an 'induction week', where there will be plenty of talks (online, for me, but maybe in-person/hybrid someday soon!) about what paperwork you need to complete, and how to do that. This includes how to get ethical approval (required by all universities for any research), how to get set up with student finance, GDPR training, health and safety, and additional things that may be required such as lab inductions for those working in laboratories.

It seems overwhelming. Honestly, it really was! But you will definitely not be the first, or the last, to incorrectly fill out a form, accidentally leave a box unticked, or send something to the wrong email address. Your supervisors will be supporting you through this, and you'll probably have other PhDs who started at a similar time to you - working through forms was actually a great way to get to know the other people! Bonding over finding the correct email address might seem a little silly but whatever made friends in a pandemic, I was happy with!

I think the main thing to remember is that there will be steps, forms, trainings, but you'll have a guide through all the stages, and won't be alone doing them.

Have you progressed through any more stages of the interview/application/starting process?

Hope this helps!
2nd year Agrifood PhD student
Cranfield Student Ambassador
Cranfield University

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