Job talks

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

Job talks

Postby Joseph » Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:30 pm

I am interviewing for a Scientist position at Merck and was asked to give a 45-50 minute scientific presentation as part of my interview. After finishing my Ph.D two years ago, I've been working as a scientist in a small biotech company. Obviously, I can't present any of the company's research for the talk. Is it appropriate to present my Ph.D. research for my "job talk"? The hiring manager who contacted me was very ambiguous when it came to the presentation part of my interview.


Job talks

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:39 pm

Hi Joe,

Everyone, and I mean everyone, will understand your inability to talk about company research. The hiring manager may have been "ambiguous" because he or she doesn't want to lead you in that direction. Companies will sometimes have job talks by people who will "moderately" break confidentiality and talk about their work. This would be the kiss of death for a job at Merck! They sure wouldn't hire a person who would be so uncaring about the confidentiality of their current employer.

Remember that there are other reasons for the job talk besides hearing about your interesting science. "I want to hear what this person's critical thinking skills are all about," one employer told me. That's really more of a concern . . . HOW DOES THIS GUY THINK? What are his problem solving tactics? How did he involve the team he was working with?

You may be able to give a talk on the subject of your thesis, and then spend five or ten minutes at the end of that presentation talking about an "update" in your research activities. Without giving the specifics of any one research program, you can talk about new areas of interest since you've been in the company, or about new skills/techniques you've accumulated, or new teamwork skills you've picked up. I think that companies always enjoy hearing a brief update of what a person is up to currently, even when they can't talk in depth. As long as you give them plenty of your critical thinking skills in evidence on the earlier work, this should be fine.

Dave Jensen Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
Posts: 7959
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Job talks

Postby Chris Buntel » Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:58 pm


Be very careful about what you present. Has any of your research been disclosed to the public by the company, and therefore safe? This could be publications, presentations, published patent applications (not just filed -- actually published by the USPTO, PCT, or EPO), etc.

If you have any doubt, don't present it. Merck should completely understand the importance of keeping secret R&D a secret.

Chris Buntel.
Chris Buntel

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bill L. and 11 guests