Getting on with interviews

Many doors can open as a result of a PhD, whether they lead to continued research, lectureships or work with a non-governmental organisation; none are to be left unexplored. However, finding the key to open the doors of success and longevity can be a tricky process! Well, thanks to Ben Collen and Zoe Davies , who facilitated the interview session at the BES Conservation SIG Early Careers Workshop earlier this March, the key cabinet is a little less muddled!

Opening the door to your future

Their session took a step by step approach, guiding us through application content and interview techniques for post-doctoral research assistants, to fellowships and lectureships. All three stages concentrated upon longevity, progression and a “future perspective” of not only you but within your field of choice.

One of the biggest hurdles to climb is convincing the employer that they should interview you! The thing is, you could be the best person in the Universe for the job, but the reviewer doesn’t know you yet… at the moment you are just “Candidate #1”…

Your CV is a great opportunity to detail your experiences, skills and knowledge bases. However, most institutions require a covering letter or an application form in addition to your CV. This session took us through the creation of a covering letter, from the perspective of the reviewer. Some of the core things to detail are:

  • Why do you want the job?
  • Can you verify your skills?
  • Why do you want to work there?
  • What are your future plans?
  • How can you further the field?
  • What is your vision?

Other tips: when you write a covering letter, just make sure you stay on track. Try to cover all of the requirements in the job description and dig deeper into the ethos of the institution. How do you represent their core values and fit into their already established workforce? Becoming part of a new institution is not only about your skills but how you, yourself, fit into the team.

You, institution, job

When it comes to the interview itself, it is your time to shine! Zoe and Ben, both having been interviewers themselves, gave us some great insights into textbook interview techniques and even helped us to ensure the best first impression is made. Some of these tips can also be found here, here and here.

As mentioned on the day, interviews are a great opportunity for you to elaborate on your application form and have a discussion with like-minded individuals. Be confident, be concise and finally, don’t forget to shine your shoes! Read more about what to expect here or have a look at examples of questions here and here.

Importantly, don’t get disheartened if you don’t succeed at first; sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find the key to YOUR door to success.

And “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” said Milton Berle – so why not also take a look at the networking and funding blogs in this series?

Good luck!

This blog is part of a series of posts from the BES/ZSL Conservation Careers Workshop, also posted on The Applied Ecologist’s blog and the ZSL Wild Science blog. Find out more