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Telephone Interview for Postdoctoral Position

Updated on October 17, 2013

Interview for a postdoctoral position involves several steps. First, potential candidates from a pool of applicants are screened and shortlisted based on their cover letter and resume/CV. Next, five to six applicants are interviewed through telephone. In the last step, about two to three highly aspirants are invited for personal or face-to-face interview. To be successful, candidates should prepare ahead to face all phases of the interview process. This hub will help you with some important tips to face telephone interview.

Why telephone interview is conducted?

Several laboratories in U.S., Canada & European countries hire postdoctoral fellows from both within and foreign countries. Finding postdoc position of your choice is very competitive as several hundreds of applicants from all over the world apply for any advertised position. Nevertheless, telephone interview is a part of hiring process.

The reason to conduct telephone interview for a postdoctoral position is to screen few promising candidates. This selection is based on candidate’s competence. For example, how fluently does the candidate speaks; does he/she understand the questions asked in a right way; how enthusiastic the candidate is getting the position; does the candidate has gained sufficient knowledge and skills in his/her research area; and about the candidate’s career goals. Further, if the candidate is from foreign country, the interviewer may like to know about visa processing and time of joining. More importantly, the interviewer can save a lot of time and money by filtering right candidates.

12 Important tips to keep you prepared before taking up telephone interview

The following preparation will help you to face the telephone interview with ease: (1) Make sure you have given the right phone number including international code and local area code (2) Confirm through email about international time difference (3) If possible, plan to conduct the interview on land line. Poor reception/signal and dropping calls are common with cell phones, especially when you receive calls room foreign countries. (4) Switch off incoming call mode (5) To avoid distraction during interview, inform your family members not to disturb you, and it is better to have privacy (6) Avoid any background music/T.V. during the call (7) If there is a pet or toddler in home, better make some arrangement to avoid unpredictable disturbances (8) If you are cached up with cold/cough, take medication, and if it is not under control, better you inform at the start of the conversation (9) Keep a cup of water in case you experience dry mouth (10) Have a copy of your CV in front of you (11) Have a note pad and pen (12) If you don’t understand any of the questions asked, don’t hesitate to request to repeat again.

Prepare ahead to the most likely asked questions

Some of the commonly asked questions in any postdoctoral interview are about your accomplishments in the field; your technical expertise; your interest in the position; when can you join the lab, and your future goals. Preparing notes and practicing for these kinds of expected questions will increase your chance of success. Below I have listed some of the commonly asked queries.

Questions about your accomplishments

(1) Could you tell us briefly about your Ph.D. thesis work (2) If you are currently doing a postdoc, then they will ask about your present project work (3) Have you published your work (4) What research knowledge/experience you are going to bring to our lab (5) Have you presented your work in any conferences/meetings

Questions about your technical skills

(1) What techniques/methods you have used to test your hypothesis (2) Are you interested to learn new techniques to work in our projects (3) Have you published any data using these (the one you say) techniques (4) Do you have experience in troubleshooting instruments (the one you used to collect your research data) (5) About your computer skills and English language

Questions about your decision to apply for a new job

(1) If you are applying for a postdoc position outside your home country, than they will ask you why you want to come to a foreign country to do your postdoc (2) Why you are leaving your current position/job (3) If you are changing your research area, for e.g., from cancer research to depression. Interviewer may ask for justification.

Additional expected questions

(1) Do you have experience in writing and publishing (2) What is your salary expectation (3) If you are selected, how soon you can join our lab (4) Can we contact your referees (if you have already given your referees contact information in your CV), Otherwise, they will ask you to provide contact information of three referees (5) How long it will take for visa (depends on type of visa the country sponsors for postdoctoral fellows) processing in your country (6) Are you comfortable to work with multiple investigators (7) Do you have any questions to ask us/me (see the below hub 'Postdoctoral Position Interview: Should a Candidate ask question" to find the right way to answer this question).

You don’t have to worry about your English accent/pronunciation, and fluency. The employer will be aware of it.

Good luck! For your up-coming interview.

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