Resume reviews and mock interview sessions
often give the opportunity of discussing
important career topics that may have
little to do with the resume.
An interviewee in a mock interview asked me
to take a look at her impressive resume, She
is in the third year of an NRC post-doc.
Two pages of high level publications
accompanied a solid, well-written resume
that has garnered her many telephone
interviews, but no on site interviews.
Why is this happening, she asked?
Without going into the full details, the
initial suggestions related to
her focus in her responses and
understanding what interviewers need and
CONFIDENCE. We spoke about what
avocations she most enjoys and she told me
about Tim MacGraw. Play them just
before you go to your interview.
Smile when you listen and speak;
FOCUS. Her answers to simple questions
were long and lacked focus for what an
interviewer would seek. To do this, she
needed to perceive the “questions behind the
Interpersonal skills and
RESPONSES INTERVIEWERS SEEK.
Funny, though, the above two may not be it.
The problem she then ‘thought out loud’ was
lack of success in telephone interviews.
There the lack of seeing the interviewer
and getting visual feedback is key. Also,
she felt she may not have shared her responses
with enthusiasm in her voice.
Her most outstanding discoveries in our
to ask for the question to be asked again in
other words (rephrase the question) to learn what
response was sought and
to ask, “am I answering your question.”
I was wowed how simple it was!
Working at the Boston ACS meeting today I
had the pleasure of working with M who is
a post-doc at a prominent east coast university.
He is in his first year there after completing
his Ph.D. at a Big Ten school. He has had
no luck in landing interviews with his resume
despite reasonable credentials and wondered
what he needed to do to improve his success
A quick review pointed to not fully understanding
how resume reviewers frequently are limited to
look at resumes, ie, very little time and too many.
He did not articulate what he wanted to do with
So, I pointed this out and probed his effort in looking
into companies he applied to, listened carefully to
his words, body language and facial expressions,
and explored what his hot targets might be. He
is articulate, a good listener, and sensitive to even
slight nuances that his manner of presenting
himself could be a problem. I left it as only a
suggestion. He sensed the message. I asked
him if he would be willing to work for a person who
does not have a B. S. He asked in response how
could that happen….before he caught the attitude
he was portraying…
His resume did not contribute his personal objective
on page 1 and his key skill sets. It was something
he could not articulate.
I then directed conversation to outlining what a
person’s resume file and resume document could
be. This left off several things that the had not included
and could not figure out how to include. .
It ends up that he enjoyed being quite flexible and able
to attack many problems, including computers,
programming, computer networking, electronic
circuits, molecular modeling, polymers, synthesis,
Thus, It seemed he may have been looking at an
area (large chemical companies) where he might
not be happy. With his description of what he enjoys
and he was quite accomplished, he should consider
seeking out small companies. There were many
more of them and known ways of exploring them.
We reviewed how he might explore them through
information interviewing, mentors, chambers of
commerce, university incubators, BBB.
Thus he left the session more focused on what
he needed to do next in defining what he wished
to do in his career first. Then activate his network
to help him find positions in small companies that
could use his repertoire of skills.
He seemed to think the session met his personal