Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Podcast: See Arr Oh and Chemjobber on interview stories

Following on the job-hunts-by-the-numbers post (numbers to come!), See Arr Oh had the idea of telling funny stories about job interviews. So we decided to do a podcast!

0:00 - 1:31: See Arr Oh's introduction
1:50: Chemjobber and the state trooper
5:00: See Arr Oh and the middle of nowhere
7:22: Chemjobber and the rental car keys of doom
9:30: See Arr Oh and the snowstorm
12:08: The weirdest question See Arr Oh's ever been asked
14:15: "This salary number is Too Damn High."
16:50: See Arr Oh and the HR lady
18:05: Interview advice
23:20: See Arr Oh and the metal refinery foreman, conclusion
26:00: Bonus track

So these were funny, but I am sure you have funnier stories. Please, have at in the comments. 


  1. Very entertaining! Interview stories are great. From split pants to spilling coffee on your interviewer, everyone seems to have a good story or two. Thanks for the smile, guys!

  2. I interviewed at a big pharma company while I was a college senior and I had to give a 30-minute seminar to start the day. I had done an internship in industry the summer before, so I couldn't talk about that work because it was proprietary. I had done research in a bioinorganic lab the summer before that, but I didn't really get anywhere with the research, so I couldn't explain it. I had done research in a synthetic organic chemistry lab of a now-famous (then-untenured) professor between my freshman and sophomore year -- before I had taken any organic chemistry. So needless to say, I didn't really have a clue what I was doing while I was there, and the PI fired me after six weeks. But since it was a pharma job, a synthetic talk would have made the most sense. So I borrowed my old notebook out of the lab, made a talk all by myself, without ChemDraw, without knowing about how to draw schemes that would look good on the projector screen, etc.

    On the day of the interview, my talk lasted about five minutes. Somehow, I got the job, plus a signing bonus and relocation (it was 2005).

  3. My first attempt at getting a job with my chemistry B.S. before I went to grad school was in an analytical lab at a medical device manufacturer. I was prepared to wow them with my technical prowess and experience on various instruments, but the interview mostly consisted of the generic HR questions like "why do you want to work here?" and "why should we hire you?" My mind went blank and I couldn't give them a good answer.
    The next year I interviewed for an analytical position at a semiconductor manufacturer and I was ready for the HR type questions. I breezed through those, then they put me in a room with several engineers who directed me to the white board and asked me to wow them with my technical prowess. Of course my mind went blank and I gave a terrible performance.
    Moral of the story: always be prepared for anything.

  4. Too bad you don't have any women stories from women chemists. The inappropriate questions on an academic interview never cease to amaze me.

    1. If you're willing to provide (or willing to talk), e-mail me. Confidentiality guaranteed.

      chemjobber -at- gmail/dot/com

  5. Ugh, I edited in an error!

  6. I had a job interview with a big company on 9-12-2001. I was supposed to fly out the day before and meet them for dinner. Obviously, my flight was cancelled. I did make it out there for my interview the next month but I guess they already had someone selected by that time. I didn't even get a FOAD letter.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20