It is not a sidebar in a career management blog to
speak about dinner interviews. They can be integral
to the hiring process and a benefit for the interviewee.
Alina Dizik authored a thoughtful piece revealing
Nina Zagat’s thoughts on a business meal. Isn’t
an interview a business meal?
Some take aways from the article:
- Leave the meal sharing and knowing more about the
people you dined with
- Food should not be the focus and manage drawing
attention to yourself, specifically
choice of dish- easy handling, be discrete about
personal allergies and preferences
if you are not hungry, order light- half portion,
appetizer, or dessert
if you finish early, keep your plate in front of you
if others are not ordering coffee or dessert, consider
skipping last course
- Avoid placing cell phone on table
- Bring up key topics during the main course, usually
Gwyn Williams of Jefferson Labs in Newport News, VA
offered wonderful insight on what it is like to work
in government service at a recent workshop in VA.
I never appreciated that there are over 100 national
laboratories nationwide that do work that is too
risky for industry to attempt and too big for
academic institutions. Often national labs
host “big machines”. For instance, the Kennedy Space
Center is a very large launch facility. Jefferson
Labs operates a large particle accelerator.
Gwyn shared that it is common for national labs
to be run and managed by scientists. Nearly all
people at national labs will work in teams, not small
teams but larger teams with specific missions.
So, if you like to collaborate and be involved in
mission-critical projects, government labs may be
a good fit. There is an interesting culture at most
facilities. Above all, safety is considered utmost
and some places will place security high on the list
Like academic places, some labs have a tenure system.
Like industrial places, most national labs have annual
performance appraisals. Performance is measured by
publications and presentations. It is not uncommon
for people to have diverse backgrounds from many
Where security is utmost at a number of labs, there
will be citizenship restrictions.
People have explored working in government by
doing a post-doc. Interestingly government post-docs
can provide nice career paths for industry, academia
and government. I really did not think of it that way.
Last week I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working
several team members at a workshop at Norfolk State
University. One was Professor Jeanne Small who spoke
about careers at Principally Undergraduate Institutions.
What differentiated her presentation was she described
the advantages and disadvantages from the perspective
of a parent of children with a working spouse. Pretty
nice to get this perspective.
She offered that teachers’ unions offer significant elements
that one might not have elsewhere, namely:
- base level salary (clearly spelled out)
- protective contracts
- (5 year) term lecturer roles
- negotiated paths to tenure.
She learned she could be unique in providing interesting
courses in chemistry for non-science majors, polymer
chemistry, chemistry of starvation and combustion and
develop novel teaching tools.
Jeanne spoke enthusiastically about what she has done
to keep that creative spark alive with contract appointments
where her skills and experience were used in challenging
roles at NSF and the state of Washington.
Many interviewers will tell you, one of the distinguishing
features of a good interview is the questions the interviewee
asks them. This points out at least two things
(1) you need to be ready to interject or ask at the end
of the meeting important questions to you,
(2) there is very little difference in the questions one would
ask in interviews for a wide variety of positions, senior level
or junior level, experienced or novice, highly technical or
One of the things I do is scan through the NYTimes “Corner
Office” weekly column. This week Robin Domeniconi was
interviewed and provided some very nice questions someone
might ask in an interview–
“If you bring me into this company, what would you like me
to accomplish in the short term and the long term?”
“What is working for you now [in helping you meet your
teams goals] and what is not working for you now?”
These reveal confidence and a desire to be flexible in
moving into a new environment.
As we have mentioned before, although I have seen some
websites encourage interviewees to ask them, there are
four topics that are “NO ASK” question topics– salary,
benefits (available on web page), promotions and training
available (of course they are going to provide training to
help you be successful!).
Close to these NO ASK questions are questions that seek
the career paths of each person who has held the position.
What they want to evaluate primarily is your suitability for
the current position. There may be speculation about future
roles, but no one can project a few years down the road
It does help to ask and learn the next steps in the interview
process and timing.
All sorts of “favorite” identification [schools, programs,
research groups] and elitist training of talent methods
[leader plans, B-school executive programs, stretch
assignments] have been promoted in many
parts of the wide employment horizon.
The article points out “in their rush to classify
people companies can miss potential stars” and
can let strong talent leave.
If I can, it is up to each individual to understand
the trends for seeking talent and find their ways
to effectively make their case.
How do we read books, get our daily news and
read journals? Many will point to the Internet
as increasingly their larger and larger source.
It is happening in many fronts.
Recent article in the Economist speaks about three
distinct layers in the cloud. The outer layer is
“software as a service” (SaaS, phrased “sarse”).
Google documents, gmail, and SalesForce.com
are examples of these services that have an
estimated business value of more than $11billion.
Platform as a service (parse, “PaaS”) offers new
services that programmers invent and devise for
clients on operating systems in the cloud.
IaaS (”infrastructure as a service” or “I-arse”)
has firms like Amazon Web services, GoGrid
and others expanding from a central service
function to many newer roles. Estimates of
PaaS IaaS economic value varies.
I have been learning about ELNs 1 2
Electronic Laboratory Notebooks, as an
emerging area for all to learn about in school
and become proficient at. While still in the early phase
so I do not understand the “cloud phase model,”
[SaaS, IaaS, PaaS]
ELN is a model for business application that
will ultimately be as common as handwritten
notebooks that look cheaper and simpler in
the short term.
Can I tell you about an interesting and beneficial experience
I had today? Today was the day we formalized and
arranged some details for a course being offered this semester.
When everything was completed, I visited the School of
Business on campus (UCONN-Storrs).
Most larger institutions will have a school of management
If you are interested at all in pursuing an entrepreneurial
activity, as part of an industrial or academic career, or
wish to enter an industrial field, it might be an eye-opening
They actually train students to interview and take interviews,
in addition to coaching how to compose a number of the
public relations documents. Many of the professors there
know from ‘in the field’ experience what is sought in
resumes, cover letters and other pertinent documents.
While I might quibble on a few details in applying their
models to technical professionals (scientists, advanced
degreed engineers and technologists), many things they do
can be quite helpful. This is especially true in entrepreneurial
They can also be resources for one’s network, knowing
people who work for specific companies or industries.
Their offices and resources met high standards and they
use some of the latest web based tools. [I must thank
Professor James R. Lowe for a penetrating introduction.]
Before you spend a lot of time on your “recent grad” or
“following your post-doc” job search, consider visiting
your local university business school.
In a course on Professional Development, we
will inquire students to assess themselves with
behaviors and attitudes assessments. In addition
we will suggest to them that a Myers Briggs
Temperment indicator be taken. It offers a
different view based on the work of Carl Jung.
See also 3 .