This meeting is the right venue for grad students to ask the candidate pretty much anything, as long as the questions are appropriate. Keep in mind that not all questions will be suitable for all candidates. Please note that while you're welcome to ask the candidate about their work, the student meeting is not the right place for extended technical discussions on a paper or research topic, which you are welcome to do offline. Here are some starter ideas for things that we as grad students might be interested in.

Please review UW’s guidelines for fair pre-employment inquiry before interviewing faculty candidates, which contains a list of things you can and cannot ask during a job interview. 


  • Have you had the chance to supervise any undergraduates or younger graduate students? What did you learn about advising from those experiences? (If advised both undergrads & grads, how were the experiences different?)

  • What is your advisor/group like? What do you think your own advising style will be like, relative to that of your own advisor? What will you do differently?

  • How closely do you work with your own advisor? Daily/weekly/monthly meetings? What is the division of labor like when it comes to writing papers between you and your advisor? Does your advisor look at code, or simply give high-level direction? How do you see this happening with your own students?

  • What is the time you felt disappointed or frustrated with your advisor? How do you think your advisor or faculty could have done differently to alleviate the situation? What do you plan to take from that experience while working with your own advisees?

  • How might you advise a student who does not react well to (whatever style the candidate has described)?

  • How might you deal with an advisee who for whatever reason isn't performing at a level that you consider to be acceptable?

  • How might you deal with an advisee who is performing acceptably academically, but with whom the personal relationship is uncomfortable or stressful?

  • What do you most struggle with interpersonally, that might appear in an advising context? 

  • What advice would you give to a first year student/yourself as a first year student? (Works best if asked by a first year)

  • What was the most difficult experience you encountered in your graduate career? What might you do as a faculty member to help your own students avoid such a situation?


  • How do you see yourself fitting into the [appropriate research area] group here at UW? How are you different from the existing faculty? How does your work complement theirs?

  • Can you explain one cool problem in your area to someone outside your area? (Works best if asked by someone not in that area.)

  • What are the three qualities that make a good researcher in your field?

  • What types of collaborations have you worked on in the past?

  • Do you see yourself collaborating with corporate interests like Microsoft, AI2, Google, Amazon? What advantages and pitfalls do you see in such collaborations?

  • Do you see yourself commercializing your research? If so, how do you see yourself meeting the demands of commercialization while maintaining your role as a faculty member?

  • Are there any groups outside of the Allen school that you see yourself collaborating with (e.g., iSchool, Medical school, etc)?


  • What teaching experience do you have? And can you tell us about one TA/teaching experience in a bit more detail?

  • What was a teaching technique you used in your previous experience?

  • Was there something that didn't work in [experience detailed in response to first question] that you learned from?

  • What do you anticipate being your greatest weakness when it comes to teaching? How do you plan to improve your teaching skills?

  • What is the most difficult teaching experience you've encountered? What would you do to avoid it, or what might you have handled differently?

  • How might you deal with a class in which the students have widely varying backgrounds or skill levels?

  • What type of new class can you see yourself developing at UW? Also what existing course areas might you teach?

  • What is the value of thinking about teaching in an R1 institution? How do you plan to balance your own personal research agenda with bettering your pedagogical skills at this institution?

  • What are the three qualities that make a good instructor?

  • What aspect of CS classes did you find most challenging in your undergrad/PhD? What might you do for students similarly struggling in your courses?


  • What ideas do you have for supporting diversity and inclusion in computer science as a professor?
  • Why do you care about DE&I and why is progress in terms of DE&I important to you?

  • How will you make sure that marganilized students know you are a person they can go to for help or in a crisis?

  • A BIPOC student approaches you asking for help dealing with a racist encounter, what do you do?

  • A BIPOC student tell you that you have done something racially offensive or insensitive, what do you do?

  • The Allen school is not the most racially diverse place. You’re teaching a class and see that you only have one black student in it, would you do or say anything?

  • A student approaches you saying that a staff or faculty member that you have become close with did something racially insensitive or offensive, how do you respond?

  • A student with disabilities tells you they are having a hard time because curriculum is not built to be accessible, but accessibility as an after thought. They also mention that they don’t know if this industry is for them for that same reason. What would you do? 

  • Have you participated in any outreach or diversity and inclusion themed activities as a student(/postdoc/faculty as appropriate)? What sorts of activities might you do as a professor?

  • Beyond outreach to potential future students, what ideas do you have for supporting and including current students?

  • What are some concrete things you plan to do to foster a sense of community/inclusion among your advisees?


  • What is the student community like in your department? How do you wish it would have been different, or what would you have liked to change?

  • Have you participated in any non-research activities in your current/past department?

  • Department service by graduate students (visit days, mentoring new grads, running regular social events, stocking espresso room, etc. etc.) is really important here at UW. What ideas do you have for advising your students who want to take on some service and have questions about balancing it with research?

  • Beyond your research strengths, what are some things you would add to our department?


  • Why are you interviewing in academia? Why do you want to be a professor?

  • Why UW?

  • What was your favorite graduate student experience?

  • What do you like to do in your free time?

  • For candidates fresh out of graduate school/postdoc: What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you as you transition from student/postdoc to faculty?

  • For current faculty: Why are you choosing to leave your current institution/situation? (Be very tactful about the way you ask this!!!) get the point. The meeting is our chance to get to know the candidate, and you get to ask more or less whatever you want in order to make that happen. A lot of times it's not the actual answer that is important, but the manner in which the candidate responds and shows (or doesn't) their enthusiasm.

As a final note, please remember that there are a few topics that we aren't officially allowed to ask the candidate about. Do not ask them anything personal, such as whether they are married, have a two-body problem, have children, etc. While these questions are generally not offensive, they can unintentionally put the candidate in an uncomfortable situation--the interview is the first step in our attempt to recruit them to come to UW, so we don't want to do that!