Dr Meming Profile picture
Jul 19 24 tweets 5 min read
I’ve been involved in the hiring of postdoc/PhDs and it’s been interesting to sit on the other side and be an interviewer.

Although I’m not an expert here’s a thread detailing common mistakes and hints if you are applying for positions 🧵

@OpenAcademics @AcademicChatter
1. Please read the job description. Specific details eg techniques are included in there for a reason. So refer to them in your cover letter. It makes us know you took the time to read and understand the position and what it’ll involve.
2. Be specific. Being vague makes us think that you have applied to any and every position you could find an sent the same generic cover letter. It’s lazy. People want to hire people that are interested in their research. This goes for in the interview too.
3. Being specific also means when you answer questions. If you’re vague or ambiguous that won’t help you. Interviewers will read dozens of applications and will be sat for hours interviewing them too. If you’re specific we can’t have doubt. Doubt will hurt your application.
4. Make your cover letter and CV easy to read. Don’t use weird fonts or colours, which can be more difficult for some people to read. We will spend 5-10 min on each applicant so you need to get your skills and passion across clearly.
5. I’m a scientist so this is only relevant to scientific positions. But if you have done research in the past list it on your cv. Tell us where, with who (the PI) and what you did (including techniques, analysis).
6.. It’s important to list techniques YOU have done. Don’t write an endless list of everything you have ever seen. It’s surprising how many applicants have said ‘yeah I can do FACS’ then when you question them it becomes very clear they saw somebody do it once about 5 years ago.
7. For the love of god if you get an interview. Please prep. Do some reading. Think why you want this position. Why are you suited.

I’ve sat through interviews where they candidates clearly had no clue what our lab did or even what department we were based on.
8. If you are asked to do a presentation at the start. Prepare it. Know it. And keep to time. It pisses us all of if you overrun because it means our day is off schedule and it’s not a good start to your interview. If we say 10 minutes we mean 10 minutes.
9. Use your language clearly. Off sell yourself, tell us why you are suitable for this position. But don’t tell us that you’re the best thing since sliced bread.Being humble and understanding you have stuff to learn is more refreshing than somebody who already knows everything.
10. Be careful of giving off red flags 🚩 again lab dependent but if you say you work 10 hours a day in the lab instead of looking keen you look like you can’t plan, or aren’t efficient.
11. Keep your applicant short and to the point. A page max for a cover letter and not much more for a CV is ideal. We will scan applications for key words first and then read in detail. So keeping it short helps us get all the info about you without getting frustrated.
13. Think of potential interview questions we might ask. There’s plenty example online too. Prep answers and get thinking about the project you are applying to.

1. Why this lab?
2. Why do you want to do a PhD?
3. What attracted you to this position?
14. Please only apply if you think you actually want to do the position offered. We have had cases where applicants have asked if they can change the research topic if they got the position. Like no. That’s not how grants work.
15. Don’t be rude. This sounds obvious but we’ve had cases where male candidates have said females make inferior scientists. That’s why he’s more suitable. The lab head is a female. So this didn’t go down well.
16. Again may sound obvious but you’d be surprised. Answer the question you are ASKED. don’t answer something else just because you want to talk about it. And if you don’t understand the question please say, we are not monsters
17. This was something I used to find tricky but it’s so important. At the end please have questions you want to ask your future employer. It shows you’ve thought about the role. Good questions include; 1. How big is your lab? 2. How often are meeting. 3. Are you a hands-on PI?
18. Please when you are writing your application. Use paragraphs. Don’t use italics. It’s bizarre. And it makes us think you can’t write or communicate your ideas. Which is key to being a scientist. Make things easy to read.
19. Please show your passion. Be engaging! Seem interested. If you’re not interested in the interview how do we know you’re going to be interested when you start working with us? Your energy during an interview matters. Ofc nerves are expected and wont be taken negatively.
20. We don’t expect perfection. We expect passion, interest and some understanding of the project. If you don’t know something then say, or take a guess! Science is about thinking, and getting things wrong. A good interview should feel like a discussion rather than a grilling.
21. I touched on this before but if you are asked to give a pres. Prepare one. We actually had a candidate say they don’t want to give one and would just talk about their date. It’s not cool. If you’re asked to make slides do it. You are giving a bad impression from the start.
22. In school we are told ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’. WRONG.

We got asked once ‘is there a bed in the department so I can sleep there instead of going home and just keep doing experiments until I am tired’

🚩 🚩 🚩 🚩
23. Be realistic. It’s hilarious how many people say they want to ‘cure’ a disease during their PhD. Or they want to publish at least 3 papers. Science (and academia in general) you need to have realistic goals and an understanding of what you can achieve within a time frame.
23. If you can give details of your referees up front. And these should be of recent employers. If you’ve worked somewhere for 5 years but not included it seems a bit odd. there can be understanding reasons but we will likely ask you to explain.

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More from @Dr_Meming

Mar 15
13 months since I reported an obvious case of plagiarism. The paper is still online. Journal gone silent and no longer replying to emails.

Ready to name and shame both authors and the journal.

@OpenAcademics @AcademicChatter #academictwitter #sciencetwitter
@OpenAcademics @AcademicChatter First author on the paper that plagarised ours: orcid.org/0000-0002-0805… as you can see he has a v large number of papers across multiple research topics.
@OpenAcademics @AcademicChatter I picked a paper of his at random, copy and pasted the first few lines of the abstract and oh look, its copied from another article as well.
Read 32 tweets

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