Competitive interviews

I’ve had a couple of interviews now for research associate, but not a lot because  I’m picky about what I want to apply for, and don’t apply unless

  1. I really want the job
  2. I believe I’m good enough to do the job

But the competition has been better and I’ve not been offered the posts.

It’s all part of learning.  One interviewer debriefed me by explaining that I didn’t go far enough on following through some thoughts on how a theory that I’d used in my PhD thesis might apply to the area we were discussing.  That’s important, because it was an interesting discussion and made me think it would be fun to work with these academics and  I would continue to enjoy such discussions – but they found someone better.  Fair enough.

In another, perhaps more structured interview, it was clear what sort of questions each interviewer had in mind.  I share them in case you, dear reader, are also anticipating such interviews:

  • Methodological experience – describe a time when you had difficulties of access? I had difficulties here, here and here, the last being the most interestingly difficult.
  • Publishing intentions – what’s your publication strategy? I’m presenting papers at conferences and then with conference feedback hope to develop them further to submit to journals.
  • Limited experience in the area – where do you think you’d take time to get up to speed (in this new area)?
  • Career – how do you see your career progressing?  I find this question slightly startling as being so old and of a generation when educated women were encouraged to go into teaching or nursing “in case you get married” I have rarely been asked this question.  It’s nice to think that interviewers expect a career of me (though cynically they have to ask the same questions of every interviewee) and indeed I recently heard on Radio 4 Saturday live program of a woman, Mary Hobson who completed her PhD at 74 and is now an award-winning translator of Russian novels, so I have the role models.
  • What wider academic activities do you undertake? I’m not sure what they’re looking for here.  I tutor, monitor and have acted as an adviser.  I happen to have a little coding work, a little analysis work and some research interviews.  Perhaps they are asking if I attend conferences and workshops or support other students in some way.  I mentioned the LAK12 MOOC that I’d been following and that was novel to them since none of them had heard of Massive Open Online Courses.

Again, I didn’t get offered the job because they had people who were better experienced in the relevant area. The feedback from that research interview was encouraging:  they considered my answers measured and thoughtful, and told me to apply for future posts.

Perhaps I need to scupper the competition.


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About PosPosDoc

Researching police learning. Researched reflective performance and its use in videos for learning STEM subjects. Researched older people online Researched engaged relationships between public sector clients and consultants on IT projects Know about public sector, project management, consultants, IT, and use of social media

2 responses to “Competitive interviews”

  1. mqtran says :

    a couple people in my lab have just got jobs outside of academia.. (well paying ones too!) one of them was a postdoc for 10 years and another was a postdoc for 4 years… it’s starting to make me wonder if research has more dead-ends than opportunities… hope things will go your way in the next round of interviews

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