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Associate Professor Bjørn Panyella Pedersen has been a panellist in trial interviews held by the Research Support Office many times for ERC, Villum Young Investigator and Sapere Aude applicants. Around 52 applicants have benefitted from his feedback on applications and oral presentations. "It's rewarding and inspiring work that generates knowledge about the university, and builds networks at the university," he says.

Voluntary work that pays off
Panellists are not paid for participating in panels, so personal motivation is what drives Bjørn Panyella Pedersen. "I'm very curious about what's going on at the various departments, and this serves as great inspiration for my own applications. On the panel, we have deep academic discussions of what constitutes a good application and a good presentation. And I learn about the people at the university, and build networks with them," he says. He used to be part of AIAS and other interdisciplinary environments. And he sees his commitment to providing feedback on applications and presentations as a further development of this.  And through this work, he can keep up to date with the goings-on in other academic environments.

Q&A is an eye-opener
A trial interview is conducted to simulate a real interview with a foundation. The participants start by giving a presentation, followed by questions and finally feedback.
Bjørn Panyella Pedersen says that the participants are very different in their approach to the trail interview. But one thing is common for them all: having to say things out loud helps them. And they are aware that it is not an academic discussion, but that they must act as experts and 'sell' their research. "For many of the participants, the problem is that they are too imprecise in their presentations and in their answers – the problems become very clear when they have to say things out loud. In the Q&A part, we really challenge them, so it seems like a proper interview. And this is a huge push in the right direction for many people. We can see it if we see people for a second trial interview – they have become much more concise and accurate," says Bjørn Panyella Pedersen. In his experience, the trial interviews help participants to prepare themselves thoroughly and to cope in a stressful situation with numerous critical questions.

Being a panellist is very educational
Bjørn Panyella Pedersen thinks he learns something new every time he sits on a panel. He gains insight into other academic environments and different approaches to research, providing him with a broad understanding of research.
Participating in discussions with the other panellists and hearing their questions and feedback clarifies the recipe for a good application and approach to the interview – they see and hear things that he does not. He uses this in his own applications. “I basically always say 'yes' to being a panellist. It's inspiring, educational and gives me a large network at the university," he says.

Bjørn Paellas Pedersen's advice to those who are to take part in a trial interview:
• Familiarise yourself with the process
• Make a brief and accurate presentation – answer the three Whys: "Why this?", "Why you?" and "Why now?"
• Be prepared and practise
• Think about all imaginable questions and prepare short and concise answers.

Do you want to be a panellist?
The Research Support Office regularly conducts trial interviews and would like to add new panellists to the pool. This only requires that you:
• Have experience with the interview phase, either as a grantee or panellist
• Are willing to ask critical general and/or academic questions
• Can provide constructive feedback on the presentation
• Have time to skim the application before the trial interview
• Have time to allocate one hour per trial interview.

Please contact Mikkel Kongsbak if you are interested.