Q: Should you share a grant proposal idea in an interview - if it's not a grant proposal interview?

Detailed Question -

Early [career] researchers (ECRs) have tons of ideas, and they hop from postdoc to postdoc in different groups. How bad/good is it to share a grant idea in the interview for the next postdoc, when it's not a grant proposal interview?

3 Answers to this question

Hello Oindrila – Welcome to the forum! And straight away, you ask a very pertinent question. Yes, as with actual research, there is the fear of getting scooped when it comes to a research idea or proposal, especially when, as you already ask, the interview is not for a proposal.

We would like to turn this query to our senior expert, who has a lot of industry experience with concerns such as these. Until then, you may find it worthwhile to go through the following resources around grant proposals:


Hello again, Oindrila! Our expert got back, and here’s what he had to say…

If the interview is for a position that has been advertised or announced, it is likely that the position is for a project that has already received funding, and the selected candidates will be paid from those funds. However, universities are under increasing pressure to win projects and bring in funds, and as part of the team, postdocs are expected to help.

Whether you should share an idea for a grant proposal depends on the situation. Unless you are specifically asked to share an idea, it is probably safer not to share it. If you are asked, again, it is advisable to mention the idea in broad terms and not share any specific experimental details or other such information.

If you are not specifically asked, it would be a good idea to convey your willingness to work on grant proposals and even to suggest some specific ideas so long as they are related to the research program of the department in question. The answer also depends on how confident you are of being awarded a postdoc position: the more confident you are, the greater your willingness to share specific ideas.

Lastly, although you say that postdocs have tons of ideas, it is important to ensure that the ideas are likely to further the department’s current research agenda instead of suggesting ideas that will take the department in an entirely different direction.

- By Yateendra Joshi


In addition to the articles we shared earlier, you may find the following resources helpful (available through our R Upskill training platform):

All the best!