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Author Topic: What would a good telephone interview be like?  (Read 4558 times)
polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2013, 5:01:57 PM »

I am a female in science too and I feel like California is more towards welcoming women in math/stat. Good luck and be proud for being a woman in science! Your place is waiting for you.

If I remember correctly, then Lizardmom1 is not a woman in science.  She is in some flavor of education.  I'm betting the problem wasn't being a woman so much as a degree and experience in a field where many people claim to be good at statistics, but few people are when judged by people who learned their statistics in a different field.
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I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
lizardmom1
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« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2013, 6:07:20 PM »

I am a female in science too and I feel like California is more towards welcoming women in math/stat. Good luck and be proud for being a woman in science! Your place is waiting for you.

If I remember correctly, then Lizardmom1 is not a woman in science.  She is in some flavor of education.  I'm betting the problem wasn't being a woman so much as a degree and experience in a field where many people claim to be good at statistics, but few people are when judged by people who learned their statistics in a different field.

Pollymer (and others), please do not misunderstand me. I am most assuredly NOT a woman of science, although I do try to employ science as much as possible, and to the best of my meager abilities.

On the side, is there something you would like to say to me, personally, Pollymer? It seems to me (and I may be wrong here) that you are almost stalking me and trying to besmirch me with every one of my posts. I (perhaps mistakenly) thought this was a forum of support, not denigration. If you do not have some beef with me, personally, will you please consider that the message I am receiving (whether or not you intend to send it) is that you are attempting at every move to tear me down? If I am wrong, I apologize most profusely.
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Lizardmom1

I WILL learn to smile sweetly...
polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2013, 9:11:30 AM »

You are looking for an enemy where none exists, Lizardmom1.

However, you frequently discuss topics that are near and dear to my heart.  Unfortunately, that means I will often have to be the one to tell you that what you perceive as the situation could have a different interpretation.

For example, you are certain in this case that being a woman had something to do with the interview going poorly.  Since I am someone who often deals with people in education who think they are good at what I do, but those people are not, I mentioned that you may have encountered someone in this case who was skeptical about your abilities for similar reasons.  That's not a reflection on your ability.  If I recall correctly, then you are in an area where you have done a lot of statistics and likely are very good.  You, therefore, are offended that someone would push on your abilities.  However, for those of us who often encounter people who do things a lot, but aren't good outside their narrow expertise, the interview is the place where we must push to find out if the candidate is narrowly good or broadly trained.  Again, that's not a reflection on your personal abilities in statistics and related science/math areas, but it is a common situation for those of us at the interface of education and STEM.

In other cases, I have been the one who pointed out that you were in a toxic environment, but that some of the things you were doing were contributing to your difficulties.  Yes, that's a tough message to hear, but if no one ever mentions "don't work harder than the students do", then you won't have that information.  If I recall correctly, then you were doing extreme levels of trying to help students who not only didn't care, but actively rebuffed your efforts as overly critical instead of helping them write better papers.  

Don't do the same thing to me for being the one who points out where you could improve when you ask questions and share situations.  I'm not actively tearing you down, but I am frequently telling you things that you don't seem to want to hear or providing back stories for people who are giving advice, but don't read as much as I do.  

I'm not stalking you, but I read a lot so if you post a lot, then I'm going to read them and comment on the things where I have something you might benefit from hearing.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 9:14:38 AM by polly_mer » Logged

I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
glowdart
that's a thing that I keep in the back of my head
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« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2013, 6:33:50 PM »

The best type of interview to have is when you have the questions in advance.  The secretary gave all candidates the interview questions in advance and I know it really helped me be more relaxed.   Having a chance to preview the questions 20 minutes prior to the interview helped me.  It would be nice to have the questions ahead of time for any interview.  It is like giving you an agenda for the meeting.

I disagree both from an interviewer and an interviewee standpoint.  Sending the questions ahead of time means that one either is sending boilerplate that anyone who deserves the job ought to know (psst, we're going to ask about why you want this job, how you will teach the classes listed in the ad, what your five-year research plan is, and how you handle students who are unprepared) or we are sending questions because we're going to ask everyone exactly the same questions regardless of whether they are applicable or not and need to ask a few weird ones that aren't typically asked in an interview (like the hamburger sandwich one on another thread) for HR reasons.  Only in the case of asking weird questions so that even a normally well-prepared person would go "huh?" do questions need to be sent in advance of the interview.  Otherwise, needing the questions in advance indicates that you aren't ready to do the job for which we are interviewing.

I have never experienced this, and never heard of it happening to anyone else for an academic position--including during the past six years here. I suspect it is probably not worth thinking about as a possibility, since dwelling on it could just increase the difficulty/frustration for someone who dislikes phone interviews.

Oh, I've gotten lists of questions for a couple phone interviews for academic positions.  That's how I know about the weird HR questions, the only questions on the lists that were something I hadn't already prepared to answer and the only questions that I could hear eyes rolling by the engineers forced to ask them.  I've never gotten boilerplate questions alone as a list.  I agree that that doesn't happen frequently enough to hold out hope.

I agree that it's not typical to send questions out and that they shouldn't be expected.  Piledhigher, To give you a sense of situations where such things happen:

I've gotten lists of questions that are neither HR boilerplate nor stock questions twice. Each time, the position has been a program creation post, and the questions were sent in advance to allow the candidates to not talk about fictional possibilities.

How would you design X, given that we have: policy 24, problem 1, and problem 2? 

This is what we're being charged to do by the administration.  What challenges do you foresee? 

These are the credit hour requirements for this program, per the state.  How would you want to divvy those up? 

There's no way you can have that conversation - about specifics - unless they give you the information and the questions.  These certainly were not typical phone interviews, but question lists do sometimes make sense in certain situations.  But there aren't a lot of situations where this type of question list makes sense.
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mountainguy
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« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2013, 2:31:25 AM »

I'm late to this thread, but I wanted to respond to an older post from Kangaroo:

I don't know if I was a poor fit for the department or if they were poor interviewers, but they were borderline hostile to me. They kept prodding me for WHY I WANTED A JOB IN THIS PARTICULAR CITY. Umm, because it's a job? They didn't even ask what I liked about the university, but rather the geographic area. WTF? They kept rejecting the answers I gave, so I finally had to resort to admitting that my husband had a job in this city. Ugh.

I too find such questions annoying, but truthfully, I can see why committees sometimes go down this road.

The exact same series of questions happened to me (as a candidate) during a phone interview two years ago. The committee's fixation on geographic issues seemed perplexing to me at the time. I thought "oh, whatever" when the rejection email arrived a few days afterward.

Later that same month, I did a very short phone interview with a different school and received an invitation to campus not long after. The campus interview turned out to be hellish. The SC clearly hadn't performed due diligence when screening my application and missed about 47 signs that I would not be a good fit. If they had asked more probing questions during the phone interview about why I was interested in the position, they might have figured out the mismatch sooner and spared everyone involved the time and expense of bringing me to campus for two days. (That school clearly had serious problems, but I felt badly that I had essentially wasted their time. If they had been more transparent from the beginning about certain things, I would have graciously declined their invitation to campus). Moral of story: sometimes there can be a silver lining to tough phone interviews.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 2:33:31 AM by mountainguy » Logged
barred_owl
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« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2013, 3:06:37 AM »

I'm late to this thread, but I wanted to respond to an older post from Kangaroo:

I don't know if I was a poor fit for the department or if they were poor interviewers, but they were borderline hostile to me. They kept prodding me for WHY I WANTED A JOB IN THIS PARTICULAR CITY. Umm, because it's a job? They didn't even ask what I liked about the university, but rather the geographic area. WTF? They kept rejecting the answers I gave, so I finally had to resort to admitting that my husband had a job in this city. Ugh.

I too find such questions annoying, but truthfully, I can see why committees sometimes go down this road.

The exact same series of questions happened to me (as a candidate) during a phone interview two years ago. The committee's fixation on geographic issues seemed perplexing to me at the time. I thought "oh, whatever" when the rejection email arrived a few days afterward.


One thing to keep in mind is that the questions you are asked about geography (or any subject, for that matter) is that the SC will probably have to ask each phone interviewee the same questions, regardless of whether or not one's CV or cover letter is a clear indication of "fit" or lack thereof.

Also, at my location, part of determining "fit" must be based on geographical preferences or issues.  We're extremely small.  We're remote.  The nearest Starbucks/Target/Trader Joe's/arena concert venue is, at minimum, a 2-hour drive.  Even the nearest campus in the same system is at least 2 hours away.  One way. 

Yes, we might be offering a "job" in a tight market, but we also don't hold the door open for folks who will tolerate the geographic location just long enough to move somewhere else.  Open positions here are scarce.  There's no certainty that a quickly vacated position (vacated because the person moved to a more desirable locale) will ever be refilled.  So, here, you'd better be able to honestly say that you love the [area/terrain/wildlife/remoteness/absence of big box stores], and can live with it for a lifetime, or else we're likely to exclude you from further consideration.
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...I can't help rooting for the underdog underbird.
janewales
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« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2013, 10:45:17 AM »

We sometimes ask about location because we're usually interviewing Americans, and we're in Canada. It's a big thing to move countries, and while people think they'll do anything for a job, when the hypothetical becomes actual, they sometimes discover that they won't or can't imagine leaving the US. It's better for all of us if we figure that out early. We're not looking for much: just a signal that the candidate has thought a bit about the implications of our location.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 10:47:33 AM by janewales » Logged
dr_freakout
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« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2013, 8:20:24 PM »

I'm frustrated, because my ability to execute phone interviews has dramatically improved but I am still getting only about a 28% interview-to-campus-visit turnaround.   I repeatedly hear about great candidates who got over a 50% return on their phone interviews (10 interviews and 6 visits, etc).  

I feel like people think I'm a great candidate until they actually, you know, talk to me ...
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 8:21:23 PM by dr_freakout » Logged
lizardmom1
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« Reply #38 on: January 07, 2013, 8:42:04 PM »

Dr__Freakout, please don't take the interview process personally - it can drive you nuts. Maybe some of your "jobs" actually have inside candidates who would be very hard to unseat, even if you were to get on-site interviews.
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Lizardmom1

I WILL learn to smile sweetly...
scampster
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« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2013, 9:00:50 PM »

I'm frustrated, because my ability to execute phone interviews has dramatically improved but I am still getting only about a 28% interview-to-campus-visit turnaround.   I repeatedly hear about great candidates who got over a 50% return on their phone interviews (10 interviews and 6 visits, etc). 

I feel like people think I'm a great candidate until they actually, you know, talk to me ...

I have a 100% conversion rate from phone interview to campus interview. But unfortunately only an 11% conversion rate from campus interview to offer (but I only needed one!). So I'm not a "great" candidate.

I have not been on the other end of a phone interview, so I don't know why I manage to nail them, but I actually suspect some of the things that make me a good phone interview, are my undoing in person. I hate talking on the phone, but I am naturally chatty and fall into natural conversational tones and start cracking jokes rather quickly. (The flip side of this is that I let my guard down a little too easily over the course of two days.) I am assuming that everyone does as much, or more prep, than I do, but I think I am pretty good at answering the "why do you want to work here?" question with specifics (that's the one question I rehearse quite a bit for each school).

Or maybe I can thank John Edwards for the hours upon hours I spent on the phone in my swingiest of swing statse - after trying to sway undecided voters, swaying a search committee is easy peasy.

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When you are a scientist your opinions and prejudices become facts. Science is like magic that way!
dr_prephd
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« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2013, 9:52:20 PM »

I guess "good" is relative (a "good" interview doesn't necessarily lead to employment).

I've had phone interviews that I thought were good, and then... crickets.

I've had phone interviews that I thought sucked, but I later got invited for on-campus interviews.

I've had phone interviews that were so-so, and they've gone both ways.

I've had phone interviews where it was obvious right away that it wasn't going to work, and I judged it "good" that I realized the mismatch early.

I guess the moral of my story is that I can just never tell from the conversation what the eventual outcome will be. I lost my amazing spreadsheet of job search data, so I don't have precise numbers, but I had enough data to know that there wasn't much of a pattern, or even a correlation between feeling good when I got off the phone and being offered a job.
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dr_freakout
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« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2013, 9:09:04 PM »

Had a crummy interview with a great yesterday.  They were great, but I rambled on and on nervously like a bad interviewee.  Got invited to campus approximately 2 seconds later (I'm exaggerating, but it was a same-day invite). 

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