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Interview Decisions Made in 3-Minutes

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch February 3, 2020
Did you know that most managers indicate that they know if they are going to hire someone within three minutes of meeting them?  Three minutes! This information is based on a survey of 4000 hiring managers in 2018 by the Society for Human Resource Management. Perhaps you don’t believe decisions are made quite that instantaneously. Researchers from Old Dominion, Florida State, and Clemson decided to take a look at how things play out in real life. Their study looked at more than 600 30-minute job interviews with college and graduate students. More than half – 60% – of decisions were made within the first 15 minutes of a job interview, less than halfway though the scheduled interview time. All of these statistics make it very clear that first impressions in an interview are critical. How then can you capitalize on those first key moments to stand out positively? Confidence is key. Having a solid handshake and making eye contact are non-verbal ways to communicate your confidence. Practice these standard interview gestures as much as you practice your answers to interview questions. They are often part of the initial greeting and can go a long way in ensuring a positive first impression. Nail the “Tell me about yourself” question! This question is almost always the opening ice breaker question. A small stumble should not derail your chances, but your answer to this question needs to be clear, concise, and compelling. Make sure you have this down pat before going into the interview. You don’t need to script exactly what you are going to say, but you should have an idea of what to touch on. It can be helpful to think of 3-4 bullet points that you want to address in your answer. Remember: this question is an easy way to sell yourself for the role at hand. It is better to be overdressed rather than underdressed. Part of portraying confidence is how you physically present yourself on interview day. Your interviewer may be in jeans and a hoodie, but you should be dressed in business attire. Make sure you take the time to appear neat, clean, and well-prepared. Failing to do so will lead managers to make assumptions about you that might not be true – like you are lazy or unprofessional. The whole interview is important, but it is becoming clear that the first half of the interview is the most crucial period for making a positive impression. Plan accordingly and over-practice some of those initial get to know you questions. If you are at the NIH and need help preparing for an interview, you can make an appointment with an OITE career counselor here.

Why NIH Fellows Don't Need to Pay for Career and Job Services

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch February 10, 2020

If you are a fellow at the NIH as a post-bac, graduate student, or post-doc, you are probably thinking about your next step after your fellowship, which likely involves a job search. There are many competing fee-based services available in the marketplace outside of the NIH. However, before you seek a service that would charge you an expensive fee, we invite you to check out all the FREE career resources through the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education .

Many services are available to help you with your job search from deciding what you want to do, to reviewing resumes/CVs, and even practice interviews. If you are preparing for a job search, you will also want to review helpful articles in the OITE Career Blog such as: 
1. Industry Job Search 
2. Career Exploration and Planning
3. Interview Decisions Made Quickly

It is also important to network with former NIH fellows through the NIH Trainee Alumni Database, your own university alumni networks, and LinkedIn.

If you are unsure about how to start networking and reaching out to professionals in the fields and organizations of interest to you, OITE can help you get started.

NIH fellows have the opportunity to schedule one to one career and job search counseling/consultation with our OITE experienced career counselors. You may schedule a FREE in-person, telephone or SKYPE appointment by creating an account here. Before you commit your hard earned money to an organization that wants to charge you hundreds of dollars for job search help, take a look at the resources you have right here at NIH -


What is “Fit” and Why Does it Matter?

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch February 24, 2020

Post written by guest blogger Charlesice Hawkins, Detailee within OITE.

The importance of a good fit comes from the goal of achieving synergy. The first major principle of fit is that the sum is greater than its parts i.e. fit between two entities is more indicative of success than either entity on its own. The second principle refers to the benefit of compatibility of attributes vs the level of the attributes and the third principle addresses misfit. In a straightforward example, someone may be a high-level cognitive science graduate student, but that may not be as helpful in teaching a microbiology course (principle 2). That is not to say that a cognitive scientist can’t learn and teach microbiology. In fact, they would bring a new perspective and novel strategies, but they may be happier teaching something more closely related to their interests (principle 1). Maybe they wanted to try something different and didn’t like it or in a more difficult scenario, maybe they were hired to teach a cognitive neuroscience course, but it was switched to microbiology at the last minute (principle 3).

Discrepancies in expectations are the root of many conflicts, so the easiest solution is to recognize the importance of fit and communicate priorities and possibilities early on. Some of the types of fit to consider in respect to careers specifically are:

• Person-organization fit

Do the values of the organization fit with your own beliefs?

• Person-environment fit
Will you be able to work with members of your team effectively and peacefully?

• Person-team fit
Is the work environment going to be conducive to your success?

Person-supervisor fit
Does your supervisor know and respect your priorities?

It is also worth noting that fit can change. Graduate and post-doc positions can often coincide with major life events. If a postdoctoral fellow has a child, for example, they may need approval of certain accommodations for work (Person-supervisor fit). In the case that there is a good alignment or, at the very least, an understanding of the shift in priorities, the lab members will be cooperative and may reorganize the equipment schedule and/or implement a new communication system such as a group chat or shared calendar (Person-team fit). In a harmonious environment, the post-doc will not be chastised for having to leave early or make a change (Person-environment fit). If any case of misfit goes unaddressed, newly developed or not, unhealthy resentment can build up on both sides.

Thinking about all the different levels of fit can be overwhelming, but it is beneficial to reflect on one’s priorities including what types of fit matter the most to them. Self-assessment and transparent communication can solve the problem of misfit, but identifying and acknowledging that there is a problem is one of the hardest steps.