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Interview Questions That Blindside PhDs (& How To Answer Them)

Interview Questions For PhDs


Many PhDs are getting rejected at the latter stages of the hiring process because they don’t know how to answer common interview questions.


Isaiah is going to tell which questions are getting PhDs rejected and how you should answer them.


Here’s your quick guide to this week’s episode…

-First: Why some PhDs are getting rejected at later stages of the interview process. 

-Then: What is the right attitude to show when going into an industry job interview so that employers know they should hire you,

-Finally: The types of questions you should expect during a job interview and the right way to answer each of them. 


From This Week’s Show…

Not Knowing How To Handle A Job Interview Is Costing PhDs Job Offers…

Today we’re talking about interview questions that get PhDs rejected in the later stages of the hiring process, which is not ideal. Many of us don’t know how hard it is to get to those final stages. And sometimes we get lucky, for lack of a better word, we upload some resumes, we make a connection, there’s a referral. All of a sudden, we have a phone screen.

But if you get to that stage, you need to know that it is very rare, especially during a recession and everything you say, even how you respond to the question “How was your day today?” or “Tell me a little bit about yourself” will affect how the rest of that interview goes. We will cover some questions that you are likely to be asked for PhD level jobs that many PhDs are unprepared for and lead to rejection.

So, what are some common questions that PhDs are asked from the phone screen stage, the video interview stage, and onward through to the site visit? “Why do you want to leave academia? The incorrect answer is because you’re tired of begging for funding. Even if that’s true. Or that you’re tired of the abuse or of being treated poorly by your PI or professor. You’re tired of being overworked. All of these are incorrect.

What you need to do is show an understanding of the industry. There is a great figure that we’ve posted in some of our blog articles and refer to in some of our live webinars from a study done by Dow Chemical about PhDs who are coming out of academia.

What is the number one thing that industry hiring managers wish that PhDs had? More training. And the number one transferable skill? An understanding of industry, simply an understanding of industry. What does that mean though? It sounds like a general term. It means that you get that industry is different than academia. You get that they have more team-oriented milestones, they manage projects much more attentively, much more aggressively and the timelines are shorter.


Having The Right Attitude That Will Get You Hired

You need to get out of that academic mindset by showing certainty. And I’m going to spend some time on this because across the board, the reason that PhDs fail or get rejected during the interview stage is that they do not demonstrate certainty for the position. They are still exploring all their options. They’re trying to play it cool. They don’t want to act too excited about the position at hand.

This tanks your chances of getting hired or making it to the next step because, as an employer, you want to know that the job candidate sitting across from you wants this job badly. Not that they’re desperate or needy, but that they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. They understand the job, the role, the position, what’s going to be required from them…

You have to know the reason that you want to work for this company above any other. You might be thinking “I can’t show that kind of certainty because it would not be true” or “I’m entertaining other options.” That’s fine, but there’s gotta be a reason that you’re applying to this company and you have to find it or you have to invent one. 

Every company has pros and cons. For every company out there, there’s going to be something that they do very, very well or that you like about them the most. Identify what that is and tell that to the company: “I want to work here more than any other company because of this reason.”

You’re going to be entertaining offers and you are going to negotiate a salary contract, but you want to give them a level of certainty where they know that if they extend a salary offer, you’re going to seriously, very seriously consider it.

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

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Isaiah Hankel


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