Assessing applicants for PhD-positions: How to pick the right one?


  • Jonas Johansson
  • Ívar Örn Benediktsson
  • Bjarne Husted


This study focuses on the assessment and selection of applicants for doctoral positions. The empirical data for the study was gathered through a survey with response from the faculty staff of three different faculties at Lund University. The findings from the survey are discussed and related to current literature within the subject area, which is surprisingly scarce. One especially interesting finding of the study is the frequent use of interviews and infrequent use of other assessment methods such as personality tests or tasks. Interviews are considered by the survey respondents to have a high predictive value on the applicants’ performance in a doctoral program, despite doubts in the literature, whilst personality tests are not. These results seem to be in contrast with the experience and common practice outside academia. This might be attributed to the fact that all recruitments, in accordance with the survey, are carried out by supervisors and co-supervisors, who are usually not professionally trained in assessing and selecting applicants.