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General Resource : Resources for Job Search >> 4. Job Interviews

  • What to expect in the interview for a postdoctoral position
  • The interviews can be very different depending on the PIs.  Most PIs would like to know if you will be a good fit, both personally and professionally, to the lab. They'll want to know why you are interested in that particular lab.

    They'll ask you about your PhD related questions: what your main idea/big idea was; what you didn't do that wish you had done; whether there are any publications lurking within the PhD work (this is considered a good thing); how your PhD fits/compares with other work in the field; what your PhD does that nobody else does; whether there are any common points between your research experience and the aims of the current project. Try to think beyond your discipline. Do you understand the context of your research? What are the related fields?

    They'll also be interested in whether it was collaborative and whether you have any experience of working with others - often the PhD is a solo activity and the postdoc isn't (so how will you handle the transition?) This is important because science is increasingly collaborative.

    In a face-to-face interview situation you'd meet the others in the lab. Be prepared to talk to other people in the lab or even from other labs in the department. This might include other PIs but also other post-docs, students, techs, etc. Some of these people may be more trying to get an idea of you as a co-worker rather than your science skills. Of course these people can be a great way for you to get an idea if the lab will be good for you.

    You may be asked to present a paper, usually 15 to 20 minutes. Give some consideration to which one you pick. The same rules apply as for any presentation: don't read your slides, engage the audience, etc.... Present a problem you had to face and how you resolved it.

    Also remember to read up on some of their work and ask intelligent questions if it's possible.


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