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Recruiting and hiring PhD students

  • Call deadlines are April 15th (Summer Call) and November 15th (Winter Call).

    Virtual Interviews are in weeks 1 or 2 (Winter Call) and weeks 20 or 21 (Summer Call).

    On-site visits are late January / early February (Winter Call) and late May / early June (Summer Call).

  • We typically get 400 applicants per recruitment call. PIs are assigned a number of applicants to their doctoral program and actively participate in reviewing and agreeing on the shortlist for in-person interviews. On average we have had 10-20 open positions per call. We aim to invite on-site 2x the number of open positions.

  • Advertising

    Starts a month before the call closes. We advertise via FindAPhD, through mailing lists to relevant Master programs across Europe, and via social networks. You are welcome to advertise in your own network;

    PIs are invited to join the call before the closing deadline.

    Recruiting labs are not directly communicated on the website, but you may advertise your open position if you wish. Only those candidates who are invited for interview receive the full list of recruiting labs.

    Evaluation and Shortlisting

    Recruiting PIs will get access to the candidate database a few days after the call closes to applicants. Applications will be allocated to recruiting PIs by program of affiliation and will be randomly done or to the closest PhD program if there is no PI recruiting in a program. Recruiting PIs may evaluate candidates across all programs.

    Within two weeks after the call closes, the selection (recruiters) committee meets to shortlist candidates based on their median score and number of ‘favourite’ ticks (i.e. how many PIs would be willing to interview a given candidate). We aim to shortlist and invite on-site ~2x the number of open positions, all programs combined. The recommendation committee takes part of the shortlisting process.

    Recorded videos

    By the end of week 3-4 after the call closes, shortlisted candidates provide an informative 10-min recorded video about who they are, their research interest and experience. Candidates’ videos will be available in their profile on the PSLS application platform and will remain accessible for review to recruiting PIs and recommendation committee members until after the on-site interviews.

    Recruiting PIs provide a short video of research/lab activities including a description of the PhD project. Videos will remain accessible to candidates until on-site interviews.

    Candidates not providing materials by the deadline will be no longer considered.

    On-site visits

    One -site interviews will usually take place in week 8 after the call closes and will last for at least 4 days. It is expected that all recruiting PIs are available the FULL week of on-site visits.

    On Day 1, shortlisted candidates are interviewed in parallel sessions by panels of examiners, each consisting of 3-4 PIs, but not necessarily the recruiting PIs interested in hiring the candidate, to provide an unbiased evaluation. Recommendation committee members will be also part of the interviewing panels.

    On Day 2-5, candidates have their one-to-one interviews with recruiting PIs, along with lab tours organised by recruiting labs.

    Candidates will be asked to rank their preferred host labs after their visit. Recruiting PIs will do the same for their preferred candidates. The highest-ranked PI may then make an offer to the candidate. If several offers are made to the same candidate, the candidate has the ultimate decision to choose the PI.

    The PhD school will contribute to the expenses to a set limit (to be communicated at the shortlisting meeting) based on 4 nights’ accommodation at the Geneva Youth Hostel + contribution to travel expenses.

    • Declare your intention to recruit before the call deadline (April 15th or November 15th) and pay an entrance fee to the call before the call deadline. No latecomers are accepted.
    • Evaluate the candidates assigned to you (mandatory) and (optional) as many additional candidates as possible in your program (and others, if interested).
    • Contribute to the quality and fit of the shortlist by attending the selection committee meeting.
    • Immediately let the coordinators know if you wish to leave the call at any point.
    • Make yourself available for the full week of on-site interviews and organise tours of your lab.
    • Evaluate as many candidates as possible in your program (optional).
    • Attend the selection committee meeting to guarantee the shortlist is sound.
    • Chair one of the panel interview sessions during the in-person interview week.
    • Provide neutral feedback on the candidates from your session during the selection committee meeting. You may flag or veto candidates; vetoed candidates cannot be invited on behalf of the School.
  • Coordinators allocate applications based on program affiliation to recruiting PIs, soon after the call deadline. PIs and recommendation committee members receive an automated email from (do not reply) with access instructions to the candidate database.

    You may evaluate candidates across all programs.

    Each application should be evaluated from at least 2 recruiting PIs. PIs can comment on each candidate (visible only to yourself), give a score (visible to coordinators), Applications with the highest score will be discussed at the selection meeting and the list of shortlisted candidates will be established.

  • Yes, you may distribute PDFs of relevant candidate applications to your lab members.

  • PIs use the same criteria, which should evaluate candidates’ suitability for the PhD School in general, not for a specific program or project.

    • 5: candidates who have flawless academic records, extensive research experience in multiple countries and strong referee letters.
    • 4: candidates who have very good academic records and decent research experience, not necessarily abroad, and good referee letters.
    • 3: candidates who are eligible but not outstanding.
    • 2 and 1: not eligible or incomplete applications

  • You may join even if you do not yet know your funding decision, though you will be expected to actively participate in all components of the call. You may drop out at any time, by letting the coordinators know right away.

  • No, you may drop out at any time by letting the coordinators know right away.

  • If you intend to supervise your PhD student together with a full member of the PhD School, you may join the call. The PhD School member must act on your behalf (e.g., PIs who are full members can hire on behalf of an MA, CE, or CC in their lab).

    If you intend to apply to become a member of the PhD School, you may join the call on your own behalf (e.g., junior faculty, recently joined senior faculty).

  • No, we do not accept latecomers. If you find out you have an open position and the call is still ongoing, you may i) look at the rejected candidates in the candidate pool and/or ii) organise ad hoc interviews with candidates who found no match after the on-site visits.

  • Yes, you may do ad hoc interviews throughout the year.

  • Yes, we can advertise open positions on the PhD School website. Please provide a job description PDF.

  • For on-site visits, the same rule applies to all – at most 2 candidates can visit for any open position.

  • Only if this candidate has been discussed at the selection meeting and is not going to be shortlisted for anyone else, i.e., would otherwise be rejected.

  • We encourage candidates to visit all labs of interest on-site before taking a decision. Offers should be sent at the end of the on-site visit week.