Job Seeker's Guide

What Employers look for in job seekers and what criteria they use to employ?

  • Learn to be succinct in answering questions. If asked to consider a complex scenario, build the description in a way that is structured so that the interviewer can follow the line of thought easily.
  • Individuals who have a vision of what they want to accomplish and know how they will go about achieving their goals. Broad thinkers with interests outside their own work.
  • Skills and accomplishments with a reasonable fit to our needs, but if one has been successful in previous positions, that usually signals that they will be good for the new job.
  • Do a review of the organization and the key players in it and comment positively about this if the opportunity arises.
  • Excellent taste in selecting problems and areas of inquiry, demonstrated scientific talent, intellectual independence, passion and persistence.
  • Intelligence, technical skill and knowledge relevant to the job description, but what is more difficult to find is passion, creativity, leadership and communication skills.

   What mistakes Job seekers make during job interviews?

  • Not being prepared to intelligently discuss with the interviewer the full range of implications of the work of both the interviewee and the interviewer. Showing a lack of interest in the interviewer's work.
  • Not communicating clearly what they have done, how they have done it and why it is important, implying a greater contribution to team efforts than may be the case.
  • Taking too much credit for the work they have done as members of a team; not being articulate about what their top career successes have been; not understanding that they are assessing us as much as we are assessing them.
  • Not doing enough homework on the company and the background of the managers who will be interviewing them. Not practicing their seminars enough so that the delivery is flawless, and not tailoring it to suit their audience. Giving long-winded answers to questions and not letting the interviewer ask follow-up questions.
  • Being unclear on career goals; Lack of thought about motivation to join organization or how candidate an organization are likely to provide an excellent and productive long-term match; failing to match accomplishments to job-requirements to assure a likely fit; a badly prepared seminar with poor data; being defensive in response to questions or issues in data; being unclear about assumptions and issues in hypothesis; and forgetting that an interview goes both ways.
  • Pretending they know something that they don't. Trying to sell themselves as an expert. Arrogance.
  • Making judgmental statements about a program before they have complete information about it. For example, saying that the system is broken and they would make major changes to fix it is not well received. Also, making a list of things they would never do. If they don't want the job, they shouldn't accept it, but they should never try to limit the scope of the position by saying something like "I will never touch a dangerous pathogen or never work with animals."

 What key advice employers would offer to the job seekers?

  • Provide a well-organized CV without errors and omissions; a short and to the point personal statement facilitates making it through an initial triage.
  • Scientific excellence and the ability to work effectively with others.
  • Do some homework on other members of the department or program so that the interview can be used to effectively demonstrate the possibilities of potential interactions.
  • Candidates who have enough in-depth knowledge in their field to be able to think aloud through a complex problem during the interview.
  • Great intellect; proven accomplishments; willingness to work with others and collaborate efficiently; excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Do not get distracted by irrelevant details; continuously learn and develop skills in any area needed to advance the projects.
  • Communicate clearly and concisely. Demonstrate technical insight and curiosity, and an appropriate understanding of how you could contribute to the mission of the organization to which you are applying.
  • Present a balanced view of yourself and identify key strengths and areas for development.
  • Be friendly and warm, yet persistent. Make sure you show what you know without coming across as arrogant.
  • Build a goal-oriented career plan for yourself, investigate the area of interest and find what skills are required for the job.
  • There are many things that candidates cannot control about the interview process, but you can completely control your actions. The little things can make a big difference; candidates should show up on time, act interested, pursue aggressive but polite follow up. In a competitive job search, the small things can make a difference.
  • Find a position where there will be an opportunity to expand your skills and responsibility (that is, a new position where 50% of the work is already familiar to you but 50% will involve new challenges and learning).

Employers approach the recruitment process in different ways, so there is no single right way to succeed in getting the job. During your job hunt, do not expect to get the perfect job, and if you do not get an offer, do not get discouraged. Unfortunately, the interview process can be very subjective. Learn from each interview and get better and wiser from the experience.