Online Admissions Selection Guidelines for Applicants
Congratulations on being selected to take part in the Admissions Process for entry to the OIST Graduate Program. This document will help you understand the admissions process, and prepare for the interviews with faculty.
Who interviews you?
Almost all interviews are conducted by faculty who are full time professors and teachers at OIST. To familiarize yourself with our faculty and research, please have a look at https://admissions.oist.jp/faculty-and-research. Occasionally, an adjunct professor (“adjunct” means a part-time fractional appointment, who is also working at another university) will be asked to interview you if we feel that we need their expertise and experience in an area we don’t cover well within our full time professors. Every applicant is interviewed by at least 4 faculty, sometimes more. This gives us a range of impressions to help us decide who to accept into the program.
The selection of which faculty interview you depends on several things. First and foremost is your indication of up to 3 faculty you are interested in working with, which you have already told us in your application. Next is the match to your research interests and experience, which again comes from your application. We have a similar list of research interests from faculty, and try to find people who are familiar with your background. If your background and your future research interests are different (you are thinking of moving from one field into another, for example) we try to get people from both old and new areas to interview you. And sometimes faculty will ask at the prescreening stage that they specifically want to interview you.
The faculty must also be available to interview you. Normally these interviews are done in person by people who are resident and on-site in Okinawa. Even though we are now conducting interviews online, there may still be difficulties in setting up interviews with your chosen faculty, due to significant time zone differences or movement restrictions on our staff. We may also assign you to an interview with some faculty in another country, including adjunct faculty. Some faculty will not be available for interview due to sabbatical leave, illness, or other reason. Rest assured, however, that we make every effort to assign the most suitable people to interview you.
What can you expect in an Interview?
An interview is used to find out about your background, your research interests, your previous work, and perhaps specific research plans you may have in mind. There are no set questions, and every professor will have a different style and approach. Some questions will be about your understanding of theory in your area. Some will see how you can communicate across disciplines. Some will be about your previous work. If you have written papers or presented posters at a conference, for example, you should be able to discuss your contribution to the article or project, and how and why you did these experiments or calculations.
You can prepare for interviews in many ways. First, know your own history well, and be prepared to talk about what you have done. Go back to your research activities, and look again at papers you wrote or your thesis topics. Why was it important? What did you learn? You can also help by reading up about the interviewer and their own research interests.
In order to set up the interviews, we need to know when you and faculty are available. We set up a special web platform to gather and keep track of that information here: https://phd-interviews.oist.jp. To log in, use the email and password that you created on the admissions website to submit your application.
Once logged in, you will see a page where you will be able to select times when you are available. All times are displayed both in your local time zone and in Okinawa's time zone. Please select as many times as possible to maximize your chances to be matched with a faculty relevant to your interests.
If you are not redirected from Navii, please try again from phd-interviews.oist.jp
If you experience any technical difficulties with the website, please contact the OIST Admissions Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For each interview that has been set, you will receive an email detailing the interviewing faculty, the time, a Zoom link and a calendar invitation. The interviewing faculty and Research Unit Assistant will also receive the same email. In case of technical difficulty with the Zoom meeting or other emergency, you may contact your interviewer to arrange immediate alternate plans. If you are unable to make contact within 10 minutes of the scheduled start of the interview, please contact email@example.com and we will reschedule the interview for you.
If an interview is cancelled, you will receive an email alerting you of the change. If you have any doubt concerning the state your schedule, you will find at any time the most up-to-date information here: https://phd-interviews.oist.jp/schedule.
Interviews last 30 minutes, and use the Zoom application. You must make sure that you have preinstalled Zoom (either the desktop application, or the web-browser add-on) https://zoom.us/download . If your internet connection is weak or intermittent, you can instead use Zoom on a smartphone (both Android and iOS are supported). We will set up a test period in the week before the interviews for you to check your connection with us and practice using the Zoom environment.
When you click on the Zoom link of the meeting, you may see a message saying "The host has another meeting in progress" or something similar. This is expected and means that your interviewer has not logged in yet. Do not refresh the page, and simply wait, once your interviewer logs in you will automatically join the meeting. This setting was picked to give all candidates a uniform experience.
You should turn on the video and may wish to share your screen with the interviewer to show some paper or article that you wish to present. You can also use the whiteboard function in Zoom to draw pictures and formulae. The interview should be a conversation between you and the faculty, do not use the screen sharing function to present slides or a structured presentation.
The Graduate School will not record the interview. If you wish to record the interview, you must ask permission of the faculty, but be aware that permission may not be given: it is the faculty’s right to refuse.
After the Interview
Faculty enter their evaluation after the interview, which are then assessed in the next week by our Admissions Committee. The Committee considers the interview outcomes and other information available, and then makes a decision on who to admit. Additional interviews may be sought with different faculty to confirm a decision. Applicants are informed of the decision around 2 weeks after the interviews, and must accept or decline our offer within one month. You may ask to communicate with one or two faculty during your decision time. Those who accept are then entered into our pre-enrollment process, ready for relocation.
At OIST we admit to a standard, not a quota. You are not in competition with the other applicants in this round of interviews. Rather, we are judging your potential for research and how well your research goals can be achieved at OIST.
Faculty who interview you are not making a commitment to take you into their laboratory if you are admitted. It is your responsibility to check that they are able to receive students (please check online at https://groups.oist.jp/grad/unit-availability-phd-student or ask during the interview). Some may be retiring or leaving, and will not be able to take new students. Or they may be fully committed, and have no more space for students.
Overall, the interview is not designed to trap you or to make you fail, but to assess your readiness to conduct research and how well OIST can accommodate your research intentions. Are you a good fit for us, and importantly, are we a good fit for you?