This current blog is a continuation of my previous blog, in which I discussed how to find a research job. Now let’s say you got an interview call after the job search from a university lab, they are hiring a research assistant. They asked you to come for a job interview next week Wednesday morning 9:00 am. Now what are you supposed to do? What preparations do you need to make? How do you present yourself for this research job that you desperately want?
Remember, there are certain rules to get a job, you need to follow those rules. I want you to stop being nervous and consider this job interview as a practice interview. You want to set up a goal of 5-10 interview calls, your 5th interview should be your real target. It means that you are not going to this interview to be hired, you are just going over there to perform the best you can as a practice session. You are practicing meeting with people. If you are an immigrant who just moved to the United States, then this is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with people. I will repeat once again, you are going to this interview to practice interviews. The first job interview usually is not the job interview that you pass. But gradually you become better and better, and your communication skills improve, and you start to feel comfortable with the idea of job interviews. Your fear of job interviews gradually disappears.
I remember, when I went to my first real job interview, I was scared to death, my hands were sweaty, I was shivering with anxiety and fear. I had a strong and rapid heartbeat; I still remember it as if it was yesterday. It was the worst kind of feeling anyone can have. The interview surprisingly went well, yet I didn’t get that job because of a bad luck that I will discuss in some other blog. Then I went to another interview, then another, then another interview one after another. Now I started to enjoy the process because I was so comfortable by the idea of giving a job interview that I knew what they would ask, and what I need to do. As a result of going to one job interview to another, finally at my 5th or 6th interview, I got the job.
After that job, I switched some jobs, and my interview passing rate was 100 percent. I got every single job I got interviewed for (Remember, I still applied for hundreds of places and got hundreds of rejection, but I am talking about the actual interviews here, because when you apply at hundreds of places, you get a call for an interview from 2-3 places, and you want to pass those 2-3 interviews).
Eventually a time came that, I had two offer letters in my hand, with the same salary and same position and job description. Where people struggle to get a job, and pray for it all the time, I had two offer letters, with both places waiting for me to join. I chose the one I liked better. Since then I have been helping others clear their job interviews.
With this experience and helping and coaching others, I learned some secrets to ace a job interview. I am going to share those secrets with you. The following are the secrets:
THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFULLY PASSING A RESEARCH JOB INTERVIEW
1• GROOM AND DRESS WELL
Make sure you are dressed well and groomed and clean. No one wants to hire a person dressed like a hobo. Life is not a movie, where a hero goes for an interview in dirty clothes and still gets hired. It probably happened to Will Smith in Pursuit of Happiness and it was a real story, but it is one in a million cases. Everyone wants to hire nice, cleaned and groomed people. In short, everyone wants the best candidate.
Now just think about it, will you eat something that looks nasty? That looks bad and unhygienic? Will you eat a food item that smells bad? No one likes it and no one wants it. I ask this to girls reading this blog, if a nasty smelling, badly dressed guy proposes to you, will you marry him? Same question to the guys, will you marry a smelly, unhygienic girl?
Consider your job as a marriage proposal and remember there are many other candidates who want this opportunity. You must look great, you must look pretty, you must look handsome, you must look well groomed, and use perfume or cologne and brush you hair and teeth very well. You should be the best-looking candidate on the job interview day.
2• BE ON TIME
Once I was interviewing some candidates for a job vacancy that we had, I was the decision maker. I interviewed almost 11 people if I remember correctly m, for this job interview. Finally, I was confused between the two candidates, both had similar experience, similar background, and similar qualification. We called them for another interview for the final decision. The main thing we looked for was, whoever is late today in arriving at the office, even a single minute, will be rejected. Both came on time though. Then we decided on some other factors and made the final decision. But what was the first factor considered? Being on time. So be on time, ideally reach 15-20 minutes early. Keep traffic under consideration and finding the office and finding the parking space. Many candidates think 9:00 am means 9:00 am. No…. 9:00 am means you should be done parking by 8:30 am and get out of the car go to building, find the interview room, it can easily take 15 minutes or longer. Then you knock the office or the lab door at 8:45 am. This punctuality is looked at carefully by the interviewers and it is really considered seriously, don’t ignore it.
3• DON’T BRAG ABOUT YOUR QUALIFICATIONS INSTEAD DO THIS
Many candidates think that bragging about their achievements in the interview will give them a job. Remember, you already bragged about it on your resume or CV, thats why you are invited for the interview. Now they want to see if you really are what you claimed on your CV. Bragging with your degrees and work experience will not do anything here. They want to see if you really know the skills you claimed you have.
Or are you that kind of person who has degrees and diplomas, but is unhygienic and has no sense of dressing and cleanliness? Do you respect others? Do you have manners? And do you respect their time by being on time? There are so many things they are looking for, and I will not discuss other things that you need to know, in this blog. I will keep those points for another blog on job interviews. Here we are discussing about research job mainly. When you are in front of the job interviewer who is highly likely be a senior scientist or a professor, be ready to talk about your publications, remember, your interview mainly will revolve around your publications. This is the main part of your CV they will talk about. If you don’t have publications, then you better have a good explanation why you don’t have it and what are you doing to learn to write and become a published author as soon as possible. If you already have papers published, then you should remember the outcome of your research articles. If they ask you about one of your publications and you don’t remember the key findings, you will give an impression that probably you didn’t work on that article and someone else wrote it for you and you just got your name as a coauthor in publication.
Another skill they will highly likely discuss is statistical data analysis. Therefore, never ever lie on your CV. They will catch your lie immediately if you lie about it. Be ready to be asked about some basic questions on statistics and software programs like SPSS, R, Python, RevMan, AFNI etc.
So, it’s a smart thing to revise your basics of statistics quickly before the interview. I would suggest just read a short book on statistics or watch a basic statistics video. If you know advance statistics, then it’s the best time to revise it, because it will really impress the interviewer. You got to brag with actions by showing your knowledge rather than just bragging without any substance.
4• BE A GIVER NOT A TAKER
That is the most important part of the interview, which weighs more than anything else. Most people when they go for a job interview, they go there to ask for a job. Every single candidate that is interviewed is looking to get something. The candidates don’t understand that the employer is also looking to get something as well. They are looking to get a great candidate. When you ask for a job, it seems like you are inferior, and the interviewer is superior. This reduces your influence during the interviews. I want you to follow this strategy from now on wards. When you go for a job, remember you are there to give something, rather than take something from them. Now just think about it, when someone comes to us and wants to get something from us, we immediately subconsciously become protective and want to get rid of them, but if someone comes to give us a gift, how will we react?
People who offer us something we tend to like them; we want to be around them. So just change your approach from now onward, instead of going to ask for the job, go to an interview and tell them what you can do for them, what you have to offer, how you can solve any of their problems. Ask questions, ask them what is the current problem they have in their lab? Is it data collection? Or research writing? Or computer related work? Just ask a lot of questions and dig deeper and find the problem. Now present the solution on how you can solve this problem for them. Now show them what you can offer and how you can help them handle this situation. This is how you get a job. You don’t get a job by begging for a job. You get a job by being a giver and a problem solver.
By grooming and taking good care of your physical appearance, and being on time, demonstrating your knowledge, and by being a giver and a problem solver, your practice job interview can turn out to be the interview that gives you the job.