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Top 10 Articles To Help PhDs Ace Their Industry Job Interview And Get Hired

By Jyotiska Chaudhuri, Ph.D.

Photo by Freepik

My transition from academia to industry has been a tiresome but enriching journey.

I actively looked for new opportunities for about a year.

There were lots of failures, rejections, and sleepless nights.

But, I was committed to finding an industry position that suited me and my skill set.

I applied to 40 positions, after researching more than 500 positions I thought might be a good fit for me.

Out of the 40, I got phone screened for more than 50% and landed onsite interviews with 10 of them.

Having so many job leads kept me busy, but it also kept me motivated in my job search, as there was always something happening.

It was a crazy time and I did lots of preparing.

I conducted informational interviews to learn more about the roles and what it's like to work in industry.

I did mock interviews with colleagues.

I did anything that would make me more prepared and make me a better candidate.

And, soon enough, I had a breakthrough.

The interview that ultimately landed me a job started with a phone screen, and then I was invited for an onsite interview that same week!

I rushed to prepare.

The full-day interview consisted of several interviews, with multiple people who were mostly higher management.

Based on the responses I received from my post-interview thank-you emails, I knew I had left a very good impression.

And, I felt confident.

Interestingly, I had to do another behavioral interview over the phone, the day after the onsite interview.

Then, after a week, I had another phone interview with a person who I would be working with directly.

But, I was ready for each of these interviews, because I had put in the work to be well-prepared.

Eventually, after about a week, HR called me for salary negotiations and other logistics.

I was extremely delighted!

Two days later, they formally made the offer, which I accepted.

It was hard work networking, researching, and preparing during my job search, but it was all worth it.

And now, I am enjoying my work as a Quality Associate III in the Advanced Surgery division of a major international organization.

Why PhDs Must Know How To Stand Out (In A Good Way) At An Interview

Why PhDs Must Know How To Stand Out (In A Good Way) At An Interview

First of all, you are not the only person looking for a job.

According to a Gallup survey, 51% of employees are looking for a new opportunity.

That means you are competing against lots of other people to get hired, so you must know how to stand out.

You must understand what hiring managers are looking for in top candidates.

How do you stand out from the other candidates?

How do you show your value as a PhD?

By thoroughly preparing for your interview.

By investigating what the company is looking for in a new hire.

By learning how to communicate your skills.

According to Glassdoor, 72% of CEOs are worried about job candidates not having key skills.

You need to show them you have the right skills and show them your commitment.

And, "show" means more than just what you say verbally.

In an interview, your body language is saying a lot about your personality and your level of competence.

As reported by Undercover Recruiter, 67% of executives reported rejecting a candidate because they lacked eye contact, 33% rejected a candidate because they were fidgeting, and21% of executives rejected a candidate because they touched their hair or face during the interview.

It sounds harsh, but it's true.

There are so many facets to an interview.

What you say, how you act, how you dress, how you present…

Properly preparing is hard work, but the reward of getting hired into the industry position of your choice is worth it.

So, do your homework and learn how you must prepare for an industry interview.

Cheeky Scientist Top 10 Onsite Interview Articles

Cheeky Scientist Top 5 Informational Interview Articles

At your onsite interview, everything you do will be assessed and contribute to whether you get the job or not.

Some companies even have cameras in the parking lot so they can see how you act when you don't think anyone is looking.

Are you prepared for that level of scrutiny?

Are you ready to give an industry-style presentation?

Do you know what questions you should be asking during your interview?

Most PhDs don't know what to expect at an industry interview, or how to prepare.

This article is designed to help you...

Here are the top 10 Cheeky Scientist articles to help PhDs properly prepare for their next onsite interview...

Put as much effort into preparing for the interview as you would to prepare for your dissertation defense.
You will be competing against people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
You must prove that even though you are an academic PhD, you have the transferable skills, along with the business and commercial acumen needed, to excel in industry.
Most importantly, you must avoid the easily overlooked aspects preventing you from performing well during an industry interview.
You are a highly qualified candidate and, 9 times out of 10, it's a mistake you made that cost you the job - not that there was a more qualified candidate.
So, learn how to not screw up your interview.
Here are 3 common mistakes to avoid during your first or next industry interview…
Not every PhD can show up to an interview, make a great first impression, show off his or her interpersonal skills and knowledge of the company, and get a job offer.
But, that is your goal.
To learn how to make the best impression in an interview, so you get hired.
But, how?
The answer is simple - be extremely prepared.
Prepare intensely for every interview and express yourself exceptionally well during those first few minutes after you sit across from the company's decision-makers.
To do this, you must not only know what to do during an interview, but also what NOT to do.
Here are 3 things NOT to do during an industry interview…
In the book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, a large-scale survey was reported where hundreds of employers were asked, "What are the most important traits you look for when hiring?"
A surprising 98% responded that communication skills are the most important traits they are looking for in new hires.
How you answer interview questions will be the final metric used to determine whether or not you'll get a job offer, no matter what you look like on paper.
You could be the perfect candidate on paper but, if you don't communicate well, you will never get hired.

Months of work undone in just a few seconds.

You could be the perfect candidate on paper but, if you don't communicate well, you will never get hired.
However, you can practice and prepare for common interview questions so, even if you are nervous, you can communicate well.
As a PhD, there are 4 different kinds of questions you are likely to face in an industry interview.
Here is a detailed explanation on how to handle each of the 4 types of questions PhDs are asked during interviews…
Remember, at an interview, it's not just you who should be answering questions.
You need to flip the table and put your interviewers in the hot seat, too.
Show them you have done your homework by asking thoughtful questions about the company and about each interviewer.
You should also ask questions to determine if this position is right for you.
As a PhD, you deserve a job where you can do meaningful work but to do that, you must ask questions.
Preparing for an interview can be overwhelming, but the competition will be fierce, so you must do your best to set yourself apart from everyone else.
Here are 6 questions that you must ask at an industry interview…
Hiring managers will probably try to paint you as "just an academic".
This is a part of making the transition from academia to industry - you must learn how to tie your academic experience to industry-relevant results.
It is your job to show them how your academic experiences have prepared you for industry.
If you want to get hired fast in competitive job markets, you need to show hiring managers that you are qualified.
You need to show them that you would make a great addition to their team.
You need to make them want to hire you, even though you don't have industry experience.
And, that is possible.
The following guide will help you, as a PhD, to prepare to win your first industry interview...
Many PhDs fail their first non-academic interview because they treat it like an academic interview.
Huge mistake.
It will probably take you months to get your first industry interview and, if you prepare like you would for an academic interview, you will blow this opportunity in the first 90 seconds.
Months of work undone in just a few seconds.
PhDs do this all the time.
But, you don't have to make this common mistake.
You can learn from the countless mistakes that PhDs have made before you so that your next industry interview leads to a job offer.
Here are 5 mistakes to avoid during your next non-academic interview…
Yes, of course you need to prepare answers to common interview questions.
Learn the STAR method, practice in the mirror, and practice mock interviews with friends.
But, this is not all you need to prepare.
You also need to be the interviewer and have questions ready to ask.
Show the interviewers your interest in the company, and that you did your homework by asking them great questions.
This is also the only way you will know if the position is a good fit for you.
Here are 7 questions you can ask at your interview to show your interest in the position and set yourself apart from the other candidates…
As a PhD, you know how to do research, and you're clearly intelligent and motivated.
But, if this doesn't come across in the interview, you won't stand out.
So, you need to prepare by asking specific questions before, during, and after your interview.
Before the interview, ask questions that will help you prepare.
During the interview, ask questions that show your knowledge of the company and help you learn more about the company.
After the interview, ask relevant follow-up questions.
Here is a list of questions to get you on the right track for your next industry interview…
Most PhD jobs will require you to give a presentation at the onsite interview.
So, be prepared.
Before your presentation, call and find out what type of presentation the company wants you to give.
Don’t be scared to ask about the topic of the presentation, or afraid you will look stupid by asking.
The reality is that you will look very silly if you prepare a presentation of your research, but they wanted you to do a presentation about one of their products.
And, once you know what they want, it’s time to prepare.
Because, an industry presentation is very different from an academic presentation.
Here is a 21-point checklist for PhDs preparing for an industry interview presentation...
PhDs like data and information.
So naturally, you place a high importance on the things you say in an interview.
But, what you say is just the tip of the iceberg.
The nuances of body language are constantly influencing the situations you are in, in ways that you are probably unaware of.
Mastering your body language will give you a huge advantage in your job search and your industry career.
But, you will have to learn and try new techniques.
You will never see a different result if you keep doing the same things - it's true in the lab and it's true with your job search.
Here are 5 unusual body language hacks you can use to influence people and get hired…

PhDs need to put in the effort to prepare for industry interview to get hired into industry jobs

You know that you need to prepare for your interview.

You know that this is an essential step in getting hired.

You know you will be judged.

But, knowing how to prepare the right way is what most PhDs are missing.

Most PhDs assume an industry interview will be like an academic interview, and this sets them up for failure.

Don't make that mistake.

Take the time and put in the effort to properly prepare for your industry interview so that you can get hired into the industry job that is right for you.

These 10 articles will help you prepare for and ace your next interview.

To learn more about how to write a killer resume and other essential tips on how to land your dream job in industry, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlistfor the Cheeky Scientist Association.

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Isaiah Hankel

Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist
Isaiah Hankel holds a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology. An expert in the biotechnology industry, he specializes in helping other PhDs transition into cutting-edge industry career tracks.

Isaiah believes--from personal experience--that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life, it’s a clear sign that you need to make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Isaiah is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, CEO of Cheeky Scientist, and author of the straight-talk bestsellers Black Hole Focus and The Science of Intelligent Achievement.
Isaiah Hankel

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