The Sassy Scientist – You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Work Here…

The Sassy Scientist – You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Work Here…

…but it helps. Everyone has one colleague with that pinned above their desk. Sometimes with pictures of kittens. Lucile doesn’t want to be that interview candidate, so she asks:

How can I prepare for an academic interview?

Dear Lucile,

Tips on how to appear to be a sane, motivated, enthusiastic, friendly, people-loving, positive, high-achieving, committed scientist? You’ve come to the wrong person. However, since The Sassy Scientist would definitely not hire The Sassy Scientist, I can give you a comprehensive guide on how not to prepare for an interview.

Firstly, sleep in your interview outfit. Nothing says committed to science like an all-night coding session. To complete the look, drink so much coffee you can’t sit still and the interviewer can smell your breath from corridor.

Secondly, be sure to fully investigate all the research being conducted in the department. You need to know that you could single-handedly do everyone else’s projects better than they can. Bonus points if you can find errors in the methods of their latest paper. If you’re applying for a staff position, highlight how you can save the PhD students and boost their futures careers by teaching them your excellent methods.

Thirdly, produce a thorough research proposal for the direction you want the project or position to take. Ideally, if applying for a postdoc, this should be about 90% different to the funding proposal, with just enough remaining to make the PI feel better about themselves when confronted by your clear brilliance.

And finally, don’t forget to brush up on the national and regional stereotypes for the city. Impress the interviewers with how committed you are to relocating by having some insults about the local cuisine oven-ready!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written while the office was nice and quiet because everyone else went to an interview seminar. Strangely, I never get invited to sit on hiring committees.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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