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11 July 2019

On job interviews

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
1: The day before the interview, confirm your interview attendance via email.|
2: Know your resume in terms of ...
Quality of education
Quality of work experience
Subject knowledge
Transferable cognitive skills: Communication skills, quality of judgement, problem solving skills
Transferable behavioural traits: Interpersonal skills
3: Know the ethical standards of your profession.
4: Learn about the organization: Assume that you will only be able to use 25% of your knowledge about the company, so do not force information into your interview answers.
5: Learn about the people that will interview you through the company website, LinkedIn, etc..

AT THE INTERVIEW
1: Dress professionally according to the tribal culture (e.g. journalists, programmers, field scientists, lab scientists), conservatively but not too conservatively, something that shows your personality.
2: Bring two copies of your resume to the interview, one for the interviewer(s) and one for yourself, in case you need a detail from it.
3: Greet every interviewer with a good handshake.
4: Be honest without malice. Honesty beats everything else. (And you wouldn't want to work for an organization that doesn't appreciate honesty.)
5: Have good answers for the standard questions. (If you don't know them, google "standard interview questions".)
6: Prepare three questions that you want to ask. They can be standard questions, but they must be relevant. E.g.: What does the workday/week/year look like for the holder of this position? Is there anything that I failed to address in my answers?
7: Say good-bye to every interviewer with a good handshake.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW
1: After the interview, send a genuine thank you note via email.
2: Never ask for feedback from interviewers unless they offer it.

STANDARD INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Tell us about yourself.
Why should we hire you?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Tell us about our organization.
Tell us about a time when you had to handle a conflict.
How do you manage work/life balance?
What is your leadership/management style?
Do you have any questions for us?
What are your salary expectations?

This last one is one annoying question. First, any organization should know the financial value of a position and have properly budgeted for it. Second, it always sounds to me as if an organization wants to see what little salary they can get away with. Third, candidates will feel that they have to underbid their competitors, when really they should be competing on merit rather than desperation. In fact, I would urge all organizations to include salary ranges in their job postings.

Still, if you are urged to give a number tell them: "Compensation is a complex utility function of responsibilities, workload, number of supervised staff, quality of supervised staff, work hours, benefits, vacation, work environment, collegiality, Pink's big three (autonomy, mastery, purpose), goals, resources, salary of supervisor, salaries of supervised staff, etc.." Then give them a range of what you think is the minimum to the maximum financial value of the position. The range may be quite large, e.g. $80,000 to 160,000, which is fine. They wanted a number, and you gave them two. 

Selection criteria in the labour market

Apart from the quality of your education and the quality of your experience the following categories may apply.

SUBJECT KNOWLEDGE
Terminology
Facts
Concepts
Methods

TRANSFERABLE COGNITIVE SKILLS
Intelligence: Analytical, synthetic, creative (innovation, authenticity), practical (transferability from theory into practice)
Learning ability: Mastery, retention, transferability, potential
Literacy: Reading comprehension, writing ability (clarity, conciseness)
Communication: Listening, questioning, expressing ideas (clarity, conciseness, confidence), presenting
Numeracy: Evaluation comprehension, calculating, modelling
Critical thinking: Curiosity, inquisitiveness, causality, scepticism
Independent judgement: Ethics, work ethics, understanding of hierarchies, sensitivity
Problem solving: Abstraction, resourcefulness
Time management: Planning, goal setting, organizing, prioritizing
Technology use

TRANSFERABLE BEHAVIOURAL TRAITS
Ability to work with others: Respect, interpersonal skills, relationship building, collaboration skills, adaptability/flexibility, restraint, civility/courtesy/good manners
Self-reflection
Discipline/Self-control
Determination/Diligence/Grit/Perseverance/Persistence
Integrity: Honesty, reliability, attitude/commitment, sense of responsibility, confidentiality
Reliability: Punctuality, attendance, initiative/motivation,
Resilience
Ability to work alone
Diligence: Quality of work produced, volume of work produced
Confidence: Courage, decision making, seriousness, sense of humour

LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Respect
Sense of justice
Direction/Guidance
Training
Delegation
Motivation of others
Conflict management