Graduate Admission Interview (Season 2022)

Congratulations! You have been shortlisted and you will soon be interviewing.

Candidate presentation (15min)

We will start the interview with a brief presentation to give you an opportunity to give voice to your application material. Use this presentation to explain who you are, what you have done, and what you want to do.

  • Introduce yourself (~1min)
  • Discuss a research project you worked on, clearly focusing on your contribution (~10min)
  • Discuss why you want to go to UBC/work with X supervisor/advisor (~4min)

We are aware that there are systemic barriers that prevent students from realizing their full potential. For example, you may not have been able to engage in as many research projects you would have liked to for a number of different reasons such as the fact that your home institution is not a research intensive university, you needed to work to pay your tuition, you had family responsibilities etc. We understand this, and we want to consider each student’s potential and help them realize that potential. You should feel free to point this out during your presentation if you feel comfortable doing so and as you judge it to be appropriate.

Questions to the applicant (10min)

Following your presentation, we will undoubtedly want to ask you questions about your work as well as questions to assess how well your research interests fit into our lab.

Paper reading (10min)

Please pick one paper from the following list:

You should pick a paper that appears to be the most relevant to the research you are thinking of pursuing. Reading academic papers is difficult; learning to do so will be an important skill you will acquire in graduate school. This part of the interview is intended to gauge your ability to engage with the literature and how you think about the research literature. Do not be intimidated, you will be assessed based on reasonable expectations for someone at your stage.

You may prepare some slides to discuss the following:

  • Summarize key points/insights of the paper/what surprised you? [no need to explain the whole thing] (~5min)
  • How would you extend/build on the paper? (~5min)

Discussion about research (10min)

Building on your presentation, we will discuss research directions you could explore during your degree. The goal is for all parties to gauge the fit between our interests and discuss the general area of research you will pursue during your time at UBC.

Questions from the applicant (15min)

This is the time for you to ask questions about the lab, UBC, Vancouver or anything you would like to know. I am also more than happy to put you in touch with my students if you want to hear first hand about students’ experience.

After the interview

The time between the interview and a decision may vary. There are multiple factors at play: progress on interviewing other candidates on the shortlist, how busy the committee is, administrative aspects etc. We try to give offers as early as possible, but the department continues to make offers all the way into April. Consequently, do not worry if you don’t hear back immediately. On the other hand, if you get another offer and you need to make a decision, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Once you get an offer, it is important for us to make sure you feel welcomed to the lab and prepare the support you will need. It is the right time to bring up issues you felt were not appropriate to discuss during the interview, but that you are legitimately concerned about. This might include questions around finance, accommodations (e.g., childcare, accessibility, etc.), immigration and many more. I may not be able to help with all those aspects, but I can ask or point you towards appropriate resources. We want to support our students not only as future researches, but also as individuals, so please, do not hesitate to bring up any concerns you have. This is also a time for you to ask questions to help you decide which offer to accept (and we hope it will be UBC)! We recruit bright students, most students will have multiple offers so you should feel free to discuss this openly.


Thanks to Margo and Aastha for their feedback!

Thomas Pasquier
Thomas Pasquier
Assistant Professor

My research interests include provenance, operating systems, distributed systems and intrusion detection.