Subscribe

Forum

interview at govt lab

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

interview at govt lab

Postby Val » Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:11 am


Hi all,

Today I went to the job interview at a governmental lab (I do a kind of postdoc at this lab). There are three types of positions. First is when the boss wants to promote his underling, he has to advertise the position. Second kind of position is when the boss wants to bring someone from outside. And the third kind of position is a genuine position, that is when the group is expanding and they hire the best candidate and for some reason there is no already chosen candidate (the genuine non-junior position constitutes about 10% of all positions). In the advertisment, it is easy to distinguish the first two types from the latter one; in this case I could not do it.

When one applies for a governmental job (in Australia, anyway), one has to address the selection criteria. The selection committee then ascribes the weighting (in per cents) to each addressed criterion, and your application gets the "weight". The applications then get ranked according to their weights, and the applicants from the top of the list are invited to the interview. At the interview, they are asked to address orally the same selection criteria, which are slightly re-dressed. Your replies are ascribed weighting, and your weighting from your written application gets combined with your weighting from the oral addressing. The candidates are ranked according to their new combined weight, and the applicant from the top of the list gets the job offer.

Among the questions, I was asked the following amusing questions:

-- Tell us about the case in your career when you walked on water;
-- Tell us about the suggestion you made at a meeting, and it turned the direction of research for the whole department;
-- what was your most significant scientific achievement which made an impact in your area of science ?

From the attitude of the interviewers, I am rather inclining to think that they already had a candidate on their mind whom they wanted to see in this position. Oh well. I felt I was not 100% satisfied with the topic of research in this position, anyway.

Besides, I had Dave Jensen's notice on my mind. This employer was from a different department, and he did not have an especial interest or preference in hiring an unknown entity as me. However, I am currently developing a technique in which bosses at my current department are genuinely interested. Guess what -- if (when) they advertise the position, they will be interested to take me and not someone else whom they do not know and to whom they have no emotinal relation. This is the way to go in the career ! One should forget about applying for jobs with unknown bosses if there could be a job opportunity with your current department !

Regards,
Val
User avatar
Val
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

interview at govt lab

Postby Val » Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:33 pm


I have always thought that the (industrial and natl lab) scientists and engineers in the beginning of their career are especially vulnerable to the "musical chairs" game. When the economy is growing, everyone is employed. Senior scientists are settled and are employed in permanent positions, and the younger scientists are employed in temporary (2-3 year) positions.

But when the economy collapses, a fraction (usually 30% ?) of the scientific staff is let go. The senior scientists are contributing to the bottom line and are a part of the company/laboratory skeleton structure, so they keep their jobs. It is the younger scientists who are let go. When economy is growing, people are constantly coming to and leaving for better jobs, but when the "music stops", everyone clings to their jobs, and some people are left in the air without jobs.

I wonder if the described scenario is valid (then I am terrified for the fate of younger scientists -- what they could do ?).

An economic collapse is probably coming to the world (into Australia, too) -- prices for real estate reached unbelievably high values, as it usually happened before the economical crisis.

I am employed in a temporary lowly position at a governmental laboratory. I am applying for permanent positions in my lab. If the economical crisis occurs, almost all of the advertised positions will be taken by the friends and former colleagues of the advertisers (these people are now at a richer pastures in industry). I am afraid it will be impossible for me to get a permanent position, and because of the economical crisis, the funding for my temporary position will be cut first of all. However, it occurs to me that it takes a long time (half a year ?) to develop trust between the mananger and the newly hired scientist, which makes the manager confident that the scientist will not fail in completion of the project. The manager does not have such a trust developed between him and his friend who is applying for a job -- even if it is his friend. So, I think, there is still a hope for people in temporary positions to get permanent jobs ahead of the "friends" of the hiring manager.

Can someone tell me if I am correct or wrong in my reasoning ?

Regards,
Val
User avatar
Val
 
Posts: 535
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm


Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: David Lathbury and 16 guests