Does anyone have any advice for going on a campus interview for a postdoc? I have been invited out for 3 days to meet the people I would work with. I'm VERY excited about going. I have had two campus interviews for faculty positions and they have been one day only each (7-8 hours). Should I treat the invite the same as I would for a faculty position?
Date: 31 Jan 2012 21:50
Number of posts: 10
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There seems to be a lack of responsiveness to questions about postdocs. I would appreciate a response to this question too. It seems that a lot of us will need to consider postdocs after having come out of this year's job season empty handed. Responses from those who have done postdocs and have had to go through interviews would be much appreciated!
This specific postdoc will be a place to gain a different outlook. My research is in an extremely related area and it would benefit my current interests. This may not make sense because I'm trying to sound as nonspecific as possible! Other places have been more training oriented but also going in directions I haven't really focused on, i.e., working with minority adolescents.
It's funny @posdoc, before you responded I had envisioned the same questions you mentioned above. In your experience, did you spend a lot of time on these interviews? Like I mentioned above, I have been invited for 3 days but I'm not sure if I'll be "on show" for those three days. Has this been your experience as well?
Would you recommend meeting your potential colleagues at a conference a few weeks to the interview? I was thinking that this could help make me a bit more comfortable with them but at the same time it could backfire. For example, they would have more time to determine that they didn't really like me. (haha).
What activities did you do when you were invited? Did you interview with multiple people, like a TT position? The only thing that has been mentioned to me thus far is giving a talk. I'm still waiting on my detail itinerary but the interview isn't until late March.
A big difference between a postdoc and faculty interview (in my experience) is that PIs want to make sure that you get along with lab members. So there is more informal hanging out with RAs, grad students, and other postdocs to make sure you are not psycho. I've never heard of a 3 day visit for a postdoc interview though.
My postdoc interviews were very similar to my faculty interviews, although it sounds like your faculty interviews were very short (mine were 2-2.5 days). The focus of the meetings I had for my postdoc interviews was different, as I was being interviewed to be part of an existing lab and not starting my own lab. There were a lot of meetings with other faculty in the department as well as with all the members of the lab, along with lunch and dinner outings with grad students and postdocs. Given how long you'll be there I imagine that time will be put aside for a campus tour and likely a tour of the city to give you an idea about things to do and places to live. You will probably feel like you're "on show" most of the time, but perhaps since your visit is lengthy they will give you some break time to relax.
anxiously_waiting, if you have the opportunity to chat briefly with your prospective colleagues at a conference before hand I would absolutely do so. Yes, there is always the risk that they might not like you, but if they don't like you after a short chat at a conference they probably would have come to the same conclusion at the interview! The big benefit is that everyone is on their best behaviour at an interview but not always so guarded in a more casual conference setting. You may be able to get more accurate information about what the lab is like, and in turn have them be much more comfortable with you by the time your interview comes around. Best of luck!
Thanks everyone for the information!
I'm giving a talk at the conference so I think that this would a good opportunity to invite them to come hear me (the research is somewhat similar). I also think that it would make the interview process easier too since I would have at least met/talked with some of the people in a more casual setting, as you mentioned. I would know what to expect, at least somewhat.
Yes, I'm sure I'll be "on show" the whole time as you mentioned. I'm joining an existing lab, who are taking up a new project (which I would have the opportunity to work on).
I'm mostly nervous about the "activities" while I'm there and I'm hoping I'll receive my itinerary shortly.
In terms of what to expect for activities, on my postdoc interviews activities included:
1) interviewing faculty both inside and outside of the lab, as well as grad students
2) touring the lab space/ offices/ campus
3) attending a lab meeting
4) presenting on research
5) hanging out with lab members
6) eating with various people
7) meeting with current postdocs
I would think of it as being a cross between a grad school interview and a faculty job interview—they tend to be somewhat casual and training focused, but there's also this sense that as a very advanced trainee, you should be bringing something unique to the table.
Any advice on specific questions asked during interviews at postdocs? If you were interviewed, what did the PI ask you and what did you ask of them? I want to be as prepared as possible with possible questions and answers.
@anon, I'll know next week and I can post some of the questions here if no one has responded to you yet.
My experience is based on a short postdoc interview that only lasted about a half day. They asked my very typical job interview questions: where do you see yourself 5 years from now, what are your career goals, why do you want to work with us, what interests you about this research, willingness to move for the position (if applicable). I would highly recommend being very prepared in terms of knowing their research well and what types of projects you would be working on in the lab and how that fits in with your own interests and career goals. It seemed to me on my own interview that they were most interested in finding someone who fits in with what they want, gets along with others in the lab, and who is also getting something valuable out of the position.