For the past few days, I have been interviewing candidates for a program I am in with a grant associated with it. In those few days, I have learned more about effective interviewing than in all my interviews combined. Here is what I’ve learned:
- Be prepared with: 1) a 10 second pitch which you are passionate about, 2) a clear narrative about why you want the job/to join the program for which you are applying, 3) 1-3 really insightful questions about the organization/position
- When interviewing, exude confidence and passion–there is nothing more boring in a day of interviews than someone who looks tired, uncommitted or uninterested (if you are an introvert, like me, try to see the interview as a chance to spread information and learn. It is an exchange, a teaching and a learning moment).
- Address the questions you are asked seriously, and give solid details and examples. Bland does not sell, neither do generalities. The only candidates who have knocked me off my feet have given me insight into the problems my group works on.
Final tip: tact is always appreciated! No matter how unbiased you interview team is, pointing out a major issues with the organization’s strategy is best done politely. We’re only people, and hurting our feelings cannot help your candidacy.
“Second, probably the single greatest personal intellectual epiphany I’ve had since leaving academia is that the real world actually has interesting problems: not just problems that you ought to deal with because life as we know it could get pretty screwed up if we don’t, but problems that are actually intellectually engaging, make use of the cognitive muscles you developed in academia, force you to develop new abilities, and expose you to interesting questions you would never have discovered otherwise. The assumption that academia is where people grapple with interesting questions, and the business world is where stupid things happen, is just wrong.”–Alex Soojung-Kim Pang