Friday, February 3, 2012

What are your best job interview tips?

The other day, @UnstableIsotope said about preparation for an interview:
Be you, only organized and with a suit & good haircut.
That's about right, I think.

I went to the Men's Wearhouse in Mission Valley (lo, those many years ago) and bought a nice suit, shoes, socks, the whole bit. That cost a pretty penny, as I recall, but I've been able to wear it to just about everything (weddings, funerals, etc.) Navy suit, red tie, snore. I usually get a haircut about a week before the interview, but I have a pretty boring haircut, so that's no big deal.

Things I carry with me on my interviews? Extra copies of resume, notepad, laser pointer, pens, minty chewing gum, extra electronic copies of my presentation (i.e., flash drive, CD, 3.5 inch floppy), binder version of my presentation. Cell phone (silenced). Wallet, keys.

Anyone have a different packing list for their interviews? Readers, what do you think?

Have a good weekend? I don't like it, but the Patriots are probably going to win. 

18 comments:

  1. Through the internet you can get business cards made very cheaply. I recommend getting some made and give them to the people you meet. Even if you don't get the job, your contact information will still be in their rolodex.

    Further recommendations:

    Practice your seminar. You don't know how many jobs have been lost by someone who gave a bad seminar. I participated in some hiring decisions in my last position and we had a candidate come in and give a bad seminar. He had a background slide but when questioned didn't really understand what it said. If you're presenting it, you better damn well understand it. Don't assume that there isn't someone in the audience familiar with that kind of chemistry.

    My second piece of advice is don't bullshit (see the sentence above). Personally, if you don't know an answer it's better to say you don't know then to give an answer that's wrong. I've seen that before too.

    My advice is to get an honest and critical friend and present your seminar (with what you're planning to wear). Constructive feedback can really help you. Your seminar doesn't have to be dazzling (though that helps), but it should be at least competent. Remember, for some making the decisions, this is all they will see of you.

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  2. Also bring extra color copies of your research summaries, even if you included them in your upload couments when you first applied, cause the HR drones will NOT think to forward them to all the poeple you'll be interviewing with throughout the day.

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    1. The first few interviews I had, I was surprised at how unprepared everyone was, and I probably didn't do a good job of hiding it. I quickly learned that HR people not bothering to forward copies of the candidate's resume to interviewers seems to be a standard thing.

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  3. CJ: How about some mouth fresheners or sprayers? I mean, we all practice good oral hygiene, but still it helps. In preparation for your interview the night before, I also suggest avoid eating Onion, Garlic and last but not the least legumes! Little thing here and there can make a difference!

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    1. That's what the minty chewing gum (or better yet, mints) are for. Of course, you're taking it a step further!

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  4. Since everybody reading this has made it through kindergarten, we can all recall that one of our favorite parts was show-and-tell. That little kindergartner is still inside all of us. IF (and I realize that that is not always the case), but IF you can bring in samples to show-and-tell, well, I've found it to be helpful. Something to keep in mind for now and the future.

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  5. This is probably more applicable to women than men, but be sure to wear shoes that are both office-formal and sturdy enough to walk around in. I was on an interview where I was wearing sensible low heels, but I was asked to put on a hard hat and climb a ladder! Ladders and heels do not go well together. It can be hard to find women's dress shoes that are both interview-appropriate and lab-appropriate.

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  6. @CJ - I second the gum....candidate breath in 1-on-1 meetings can be a killer. Make sure you don't eat anything too messy at lunch (spaghetti, curries both delicious, but guaranteed to stain your clothes!), and always make sure you re-check a mirror 1) before the interview, and 2) after lunch.

    I agree with the USB drives, and I actually take two with me....one in the pocket, one in the luggage, in case something goes wrong with the first (happened to me once!) For extra back-up, I usually email myself my presentation and CV; most conference rooms have net access to the projector, and they can access it that way.

    Irons are placed in hotel rooms for a reason. Ditto lint rollers.

    I also find that bringing a few aspirin or ibuprofen in my back pocket help as the day wears on. Coffee also good, but not too much, lest you be the shaky candidate who asks for the bathroom every 10 minutes...

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  7. Get your stories ready. Interviews are increasingly "describe a time that you did/experienced ........ and what you learned from it"

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  8. 3.5 inch? Amateur. Pros have 5 1/4.

    Go Giants.

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    Replies
    1. I know the Patriots have lots of smug arrogance, but the last time the Giants won they acted like childish a$$weasels. I don't dislike Manning, but crushing their defense like a cockroach would be an appropriate attitude modifier. Considering the Giants' defense, I don't know if that's likely.

      If you're going for 5.25" disks, you might as well forget actually using them - I'm sure the NMR room has some 8.5" disks left over from a Bruker.

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    2. the Patriots have lots of smug arrogance

      And that's why I hope they lose. Badly.

      You're right, Giants' defense is stout. And with Gronkowski nursing that ankle, this game's looking a lot easier for NY.

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  9. If you're bringing a laser pointer (or even a wireless mouse if you need to click through a few things), definitely bring some extra batteries. And practice practice practice how to replace them without breaking the flow of your conversation.

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  10. Big 2nd on Unstable Isotope's advice, especially the part about candidates getting jettisoned based on weak presentations. One huge pet peeve of mine: stay on time. A few minutes here or there is understandable, but if you start running 10 or more minutes late then you clearly didn't bother rehearsing your talk and that lack of attention doesn't go unnoticed. Generally it screws up the interview schedule in a fairly obvious way.

    When people tell you to prepare a 1 hr talk, prepare a 45-50 minute talk so that you have time to address questions without running over.

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  11. I take the following -

    Laptop (nothing on desktop, auto-sleep mode off, no sound, etc)
    Lip balm, Listerine strips(no gums!)
    Published papers prints, resume, color prints of talk, notepad, pen, pointer.
    Schedule of interview (small cheat in pocket)
    ....and lots of energy and confidence!

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  13. I like this tips because I want to work in Australia since I found this Australian employment. They have a lot of vacant jobs that are available for those who need it.

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