Interviewing notes

During your time here, you may be asked to help interview new candidates who are applying to join the lab. Here are a few notes about interviewing:

  • The goal of having you meet with candidates is twofold — to help determine if they have a good skill set and temperament for our lab, and to tell them about your project and your experience here.
  • It is better to go more in depth on a narrower set of subjects, rather than to cover many topics shallowly. In cases where we want you to cover a specific subject, we’ll communicate that to you in advance, otherwise the topic is up to you.
  • Asking about specific past experiences is more valuable than hypothetical situations. For example, “In your last position, tell me about the most challenging part of working in that team” is more useful than “Do you like working in teams?”
  • As your impression of the candidate evolves, seek evidence of the opposing view. For example, if you have a very positive impression of their technical skills, ask questions that might expose gaps in their knowledge. If you have a very negative impression, hunt for areas in which their skill set might be deeper.
  • Use silence to your advantage!  If you’re having trouble getting the candidate to volunteer information or going into depth, try smiling and nodding but not speaking.  Sometimes candidates need that pause to formulate their next thought.
  • It’s our expectation that if you are meeting one-on-one with a candidate, that you will also attend their seminar/presentation.  If you’re not able to, please let us know in advance.  (Of course, anyone is welcome to attend seminars/presentations, even if you’re not meeting one-on-one.) 
  • Jot down notes immediately after your meeting and send them to whomever is organizing the interview.

Thank you for helping with this important role!