How to prepare for a postdoc job interview

 How to prepare for a postdoc job interview

Shot of a group of businesspeople interviewing a candidate in an office

What are the types of postdoc jobs available? What kind of interview questions can I expect? How should I dress for a postdoc interview? Here’s your quick guide.

Congratulations! You have successfully completed your doctoral degree. The difficult part is over, right? Wrong. Now that you have completed this important milestone, it’s time to put it to good use and start applying for postdoc jobs. If you are not sure where and how to get started preparing for interviews, we have put together a few helpful tips to guide you along the way.

Types of postdoc jobs

If you did your postdoctoral degree to stay in the academic/research field, there are typically two directions you can go with:

  • A research institution: those are typically run by either a government agency or a non-profit organization. You will be conducting research in a specific field and this research is intended for the general public.
  • An academic institution: a university or another institution of higher education. Here you will typically find such postdoc jobs as research assistants, lecturers, teaching assistants, etc.

If, on the other hand, staying in academia and public sector is not something you’re interested in, there’s always the private sector. Postdoc job opportunities here include analyst, data engineer, project manager, researcher, etc.

How to prepare for a postdoc job interview
While practice is key, you also don’t want to come off as rehearsed.

Postdoc interview questions

After you send out your resumes, it’s time to prepare for the interview process. Depending on a job and an institution, the interview process can be simple, requiring a one-time conversation with a hiring manager, or a complicated multi-step process. Be ready to go through multiple stages of interviews, including written, virtual, and in-person.

While practice is key, you also don’t want to come off as rehearsed. Interviewers usually notice when you give them a scripted answer and that doesn’t make the best impression. Don’t be hesitant to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts. Also, and this may seem obvious, really listen to and understand the question.

Here are examples of common postdoc interview questions:

  • Can you summarize the findings of your doctoral research?
  • How do you feel your research prepared you for this position?
  • Why did you pick that particular research topic?
  • How will this position help your career?
  • What specifically about this position caught your attention?
  • What difficulties would you expect to come across in this position?
  • What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What was the biggest challenge in your research project and how did you overcome it?
  • Do you have any questions about this postdoc position?
  • What do you think sets you apart from other candidates?

Dressing for a postdoc interview

“Dress to impress,” goes the phrase. When preparing for a postdoc interview, think of your outfit in advance. Make sure it’s clean and polished. You don’t need to try and impress the person interviewing you with expensive labels. You should focus on looking professional and neat. A suit is always the best choice. It should be ironed and have no stains. Try to keep accessories to the minimum. They tend to be distracting and you want the interviewer’s attention to be on what you are saying as opposed to what you are wearing. And, of course, don’t forget about personal hygiene.

Applying for postdoc jobs can be a tedious process. Sometimes you may feel like it’s an endless process pushing you the brink of desperation. Don’t give up, though. Your efforts are bound to pay off.

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