Interestingly, I have heard little about the topic of doing
video internet interviews for some time until I spoke with
a university chair who shared involvement in three virtual
team interviews for the chairmanship of another
department. It was part of the process for a faculty
It came as a way to bring people who have very busy
schedules together, expose interviewees to the same kinds of
situations and questions in a documented process that
meets legal standards.
In some places virtual internet video interviews are done
when travel time and budgets do not permit actual live in
person interviews or panel interviews. So many of the
points made in earlier posts seem to still apply.
I observed one good addition to the “virtual” literature
on “virtual video interviews”, so let me highlight my new
- a video interview does not have a natural flow like
a phone or in person interview might have. Often,
they are staged asynchronously where a set of established
questions are created and asked in the same manner
and the interview is recorded as a file and sent.
- the lack of flow presents some adjusting to to
present your best foot forward.
- timing of interviews, responses and even follow
up from interview questions to achieve common
ground can be different.
- it is useful for the interviewee to consider offering
“please let me know if I responded to your question
in a helpful manner?“ Provide a situation, whether
follow up video interview or phone call or in person,
to help meet the interview objectives.
I think I will add virtual video interviews as an optional
topic in this year’s class.
Video Body language guidance
We have shared a set of soft skills that scientists and engineers
are expected to use and display and a set of wise skills that,
when they are displayed set job seekers and those considered
for promotion apart from their competition.
Scientists, engineers, managers and leaders are considered
knowledge workers. [see some definitions of knowledge workers
at the end] Especially in mid career, they have
considerable responsibilities and expectations for which
they are evaluated and rated. We need to be mindful that
while our supervisor’s reviews are informative, our personal
assessments are what are critical to our satisfaction and
happiness. Unfortunately, these only follow, in many cases,
being let go by organizations and are part of the repertoire of
outplacement firms at higher levels. We maintain that self-
management for mid-career knowledge workers, managers
and leaders should be a regular practice. See also 1 . Self
self-discipline of attention. Hunter and Scherer wrote ‘self
management begins with attention’ and P Forni articulates the
essential role attention plays by controlling our emotions to
allow us to set goals and rationally criticize our own behaviors.
perception allows viewing the same information using more
focused attention from differing viewpoints. It is “metaphorical
thinking” in action, described as reflection and introspection.
Avoiding the Einstellung effect as described by Partnoy is another
fine example, where humans repeat old responses or behaviors
when newer and better ones are available.
self-awareness of our habits by studying our cues and outcomes
and assessing if they achieve the goals we seek. Often our
actions do not and we need to mindfully address the habit, as
Duhigg has pointed out.
adapting a mindset of growth by trying new approaches like
Peter Palchinsky model, which recognizes that the real world is more
complicated and evolving all the time with “facts” being meso-
facts. see Harford and Arbesman .
Palchinsky’s approach boils down to three principles:
- Seek out new ideas and try new things
- When trying something new, do it on a scale where failure is survivable
- Seek out feedback and learn from your mistakes as you go along
Did you ever wonder where computers fit into your daily
life and into the future? Some observations:
I have seen computers transform people who don’t fit the select
“intellengencia” group become successful doing things that
did not exist before. They leave the select group behind.
I have seen computers transform the way business is done– sped up
transactions and lowered the entry costs for starting new ventures.
I have seen computers change broadcast media and perspectives on the
process for getting facts and mesofacts.
Ray Kurzweil’s latest book “How to create a mind” describes
how humans are enhancing their abilities and developing new
capabilities with computers, robots, ‘bots’ and similar networked
devices. He does this by teaching a model of the brain’s operations–
“pattern recognition theory of the mind” and relates its
structure - function relationships as understood today. Then,
he relates some of the observed limitations of the brain and
how we can put computers to use in a “gap analysis” approach
to the human situation.
This all plays into what undergraduates and recent graduates
might place into their curricula. Take courses that help them
acquire computer mindset and skill sets,
develop paradigms for creating lists and prioritzing,
be exposed to solving different kinds of problems and
participate and lead groups in thinking outside of their
current frameworks (different cultures, different industries, different
languages and tools).
Graduate students and post-docs might allow themselves the
opportunity as scientists to
self reflect on human limitations and
Then, explore how they might use computers to reach their goals.
It could be in an academic realm or it could be in an experiential
realm (internships, cross-functional programs, developing soft and
wise skills ).
Mid-career professionals and those looking to change need
to proactively continue to
be exposed to new ideas and concepts,
hone their communication skills (especially those using
computers for they are gaining importance) and
deliberate on things they might “unlearn, relearn and explore
for the first time.”
Kurzweil comments that by age twenty humans saturate their core
memory apparatus and need to unlearn things they once believed.
Arbesman wrote about meso-facts and the rule of hidden knowledge
offering that groups of people without high level expertise can come
up with ideas and solutions to problems better than many experts.
Although the entrepreneurial spirit is recently
highlighted in ACS, it is honestly nothing new.
High risk, high reward opportunities on one’s
own or joining with others have been available
since high tech was high tech, and chemical
ventures had to split off from larger companies
Take a look at a WSJ blog article on what start-up
mentors, Brad Field, Neil Blementhal and others
suggest. It reveals behaviors job seekers might
consider and offers what they may find in their
interviews and first days on the job if offered
- both culture fit and technical skill are important
[Preparation; find out about the culture before
- having failed ventures is good, if people learned
from them; know your own talent level and what
you can contribute
- job descriptions and company story need to be
dissected and tested ; understand incentives.
If you are interested in Entrepreneurial business
employment, the Accelerators Blog is a place to
Recently, I had a conversation with a person who has been
without a position for an extended period. We had communicated
via email, where I learned she was obtaining interviews in the
tight job market for lawyers but not landing a position. This is
despite feeling quite good about a couple of the interviews.
She had visited her alumna placement office and met with various
people but it was clear there was a mismatch of expectations
in those encounters. So, we set up an appointment to meet
and we outlined what we planned to do in the meeting.
- learn about several of the unsuccessful experiences
- define clearly what her goal position would be
- study and coach her interview approach in an informational
- perform a mock interview and develop a muscle memory
of improved actions, behaviors and responses.
BEGINNING THE CONVERSATION
Much to my surprise, we met and began our conversation,
however, I did not feel she was able to relax and relate and
show confidence in her accomplishments. She seemed
intent on defaulting to the differences she had with her
employer and being associated with his reputation.
Body Language and Appearance
How was this revealed? This was apparent from facial
expressions, slouching and orating, rather than conversing.
She would speak with a lot of emotion using nonverbal
gestures of arms in closed and then pleading positions.
Legs were crossed at the knee, sitting deep in her seat
in an all too dependent position.
Generally, people in hiring positions will feel more
comfortable with people like themselves. So, I asked
her to note my body positions and facial expressions.
Try to note and then reflect on my tendencies, for when we
mirror we are relating well and likely in agreement. Non
similar behaviors alert the interviewer of disagreement and
perhaps a different mindset or goal.
[This also relates to the desirability of a hair style that
does not fall into the eyes or tempt you to fiddle with
it during an interview. Consider tie-back, barrette or bobby
pin or a light touch of hair spray. Preventable tendency]
Mirroring occurs at a preconscious level. But in the
practice mode we need to make it conscious and
practice to build a certain “muscle memory.”
CONVERSATION RATHER THAN INTERROGATION
Although an interview is not an interrogation, it can sometimes
feel like this to an interviewee. Early excitement which happens
frequently in interviews better serves the interviewee if it is
harnessed and directed to reveal excitement about the meeting
to fill a position. It should also provide enthusiasm
in retelling stories that relate accomplishments and send
signals that the interviewee is confident, likeable and competent.
Storytelling with a Goal in mind
We made our introductions in the mock interview and
explored some “what if” scenarios. Then, we guided our
way into defining strengths and weaknesses. This is
a very common self assessment direction. Telling stories
helps us create an imprintable image for remembering.
We had her learn, practice and strengthen the S-A-R-I
acronym for story-telling: Situation, Action,
Business card, taking notes, sending thank yous and
describing why you are no longer employed and what
you are currently doing were other areas of sharing,
coaching and practicing.
I told her I was pleased that she recognized she could
value and use some help and coaching.
CAREERS AWAY FROM THE BENCH, LEGAL
Unless you have applied for a position recently or are part of
the organization that receives applications, it can be hard to
keep up with the evolution of what is expected for on-line
applications and resume submission. So I seek feedback on
blog readers experiences in on-line applications.
Recently I received an email from a member:
“…a quick question. It has been my experience so far that many,
many companies use a specific from on the web for applicants.
…I spent … time perfecting my format and inserting hyperlinks to
my publications and linked in [profile]. I recently applied for a
position that gave the user the option of uploading a resume in
addition to filling out the online form. My feeling was that
uploading the resume, especially as a source of additional
information, couldn’t hurt. [Feedback from] the company was
that they did not appreciate the uploaded form of my resume.
Just stick to the online form…
Do you recommend not including my .pdf formatted resume
when an online submission form is available or do you think
this one is an aberration?…”
I first approached a number of my mentors on this question.
A. Dr. J. Shulman:
“…only for the company I was directly associated with…They
absolutely required that their online form be filled out
[completely] and would not consider anyone who did not fill
out the form. As for uploading a resume, that would be
encouraged as a .pdf; the links contained in a resume would
be superfluous. The 2- or 3-pages of resume should stand on
their own. The applicant should assume that anything in the
resume that demands additional work by anyone involved in
the hiring process very well might not be well received…
The only companies that might look positively on a resume
containing links could be the very technology-oriented companies,
like Google or Facebook.”
The following agreed with Joel, saying additionally:
B. Dr. J. Jolson:
“…he seems to be confident in his programming skills. Because the job
market for PhD chemists could be better, and the job market for computer
scientists is excellent, he may want to consider positions that require
programming skills in addition to jobs that just require a knowledge of
C. Dr. L Kirschenbaum:
“Emphasize the ‘rules’. Keep it short. If I see something worthwhile
in 20 seconds, I’ll spend a few minutes on it and send it along. But
I am certainly not going to follow the links. More in this instance is
not better and may backfire.”
D. my 2 cents:
“- you need to use select keywords in your resume, since firms use
Applicant Tracking Systems to sort resumes…
- place links for documentation of previous performance into your
- resumes submitted online are short and targeted for known positions
- there is a security concern when hyperlinks are in attachments
- consider including a cover letter in the file
I wish to thank my dedicated professional colleagues who
selflessly shared their perspectives. All highly valued.
Every once in a while we get a flurry of insights.
Sometimes they are about finances, sometimes about
possible future trends, other times they are about
items for interviewing and topics of current interest
in less scientific or engineering endeavors. This
is the case with the present post.
My, was I struck by things people think they should
have learned before starting a new job. You should
add these topics to things to ask about when interviewing.
Did you know about the trend to obtain and
analyze data from unstructured sources?
Two tax and possible investment topics from the
WSJ are pointed out as well.
SOURCE: K. Greene, WSJ 12-7-2012, P. 1
“Benefits Leader Reins in 401(k)s”
There are changes in the wind about when companies
will be contributing their “matching” contributions
to 401K plans. As reported in WSJ the trend seems
to be moving from regularly throughout the year to
one time in December, if you are still employed at
WHAT TO LEARN AT YOUR INTERVIEW
SOURCE: WSJ 12-12-2012, p. B6
L. Weber, “At Work”
Short column about things recently hired employees
wished they had known before starting:
- turnover rate for the position
- true travel requirements and actual hours of work
- current future prospects and actual state of finances
- job description, work arrangement and team
FINANCIAL MOVES IN 2012
SOURCE: L. Saunders, WSJ 12-8-2012
“Deduct now and Give later“
With imminent law and regulations changes coming,
this Tax Report column lists some ideas Lauren’s
article describes a strong approach to do good
now and in the future, recognizing that this may
not be as advantageous in the future. [Charitable Giving
funds] Worth considering.
USEFUL DATA THAT GIVES UNEXPECTED BENEFITS
SOURCE: WSJ 12-11-2012, P. B4
J. Mullich, “Harnessing the potential of unstructured data”
Companies need an “informationalization strategy”
Mullich declares taken from Redman’s book about
new strategies to get low hanging fruit from “big
unstructured data”. Feedback and insights about
reactions and problems by customers can help identify
and resolve problems.
While we would not consider lasers a surprise invention,
nor even one of the top ten inventions, it has sparked some
remarkable progress in the medical research and
Laura Marshall convened four international leaders to
describe their prospects for biomedical spectroscopy.
Areas her panel identified included:
in vivo spectroscopy and imaging to the single
molecule level (CARS, SERS, Raman techniques)
multi-point, pulsed sampling of tuned lasers to
smaller sized lasers with lower cost and wider
range of wavelengths
user-friendly, targeted assays
It was a surprise when I received a resume on a second
pass from one person and on a fourth pass from
another to see some glaring issues that will
“de-rail” these applicant’s application efforts.
CASE: BUSINESS FOCUSED RESUME
Heading listed name, address, email, phone, but no
Internet presence. That is possible for only very few
people these days. For sure, reviewers, if they are
interested in you, will search you on the internet. Help
them, give your Internet web page or LinkedIn.com
More dramatic than the missing Internet presence followed.
While the resume did not have an OBJECTIVE or
QUALIFICATIONS, it did have a PROFILE section
right after the heading. The profile was written with
10 ‘I phrases’ in 11-line paragraph form offering an incredible
listing of “features without benefits”, as expressed in
It is my experience that all resume reviewers and coaches
recommend that “I, my, or our” not be used in a resume
and most CVs. Anywhere or anytime. This is common
from many sources like Doyle, LizRyan and many ACS
Equally objectionable are the use of feature phrases
without substantial benefits. Specifically that means
do not state– results oriented (or bottom-line oriented)
professional, goal-driven, multi-tasker, reliable, flexible,
excellent communication skills, self-motivated,
team player, independent, detail-oriented or catch phrases
that are without benefits.
CASE: LABORATORY SCIENTIST SEEKING NEW
A second resume that I reviewed contained the heading
using a Word “header” and nebulous Objective statement:
“To seek a position in a growing company that allows me to
apply my skills in THIS and THAT. I would like to apply my
diligence and problem solving skills to gain variable insights
in the field of WHATEVER..”
Note: MY, I, bad form
Note: non-specific, “lazy-phrases”
Note: typo “variable” [lack of attention to detail]
When we use an Objective it should relate directly to
specific match of skills, interests and experiences the
company desires an individual to possess and you have.
Specifically look into the company to find out who they
want to hire. Do information interviewing, committed
networking, and industry researching that pinpoints where
your working there benefits their products, business or
services. Find the KEYWORDS that are relevant to
positions that you seek and are qualified for.
If you do not have this, or if there is more than one
position you wish to be considered for, consider skipping
the Objective, and present your case with QUALIFICATIONS.
Present the most relevant skills, experiences and interests
in your qualifications.
Make your document, especially in the “resume red zone,”
easy to read. Consider using incomplete yet understandable
sentence fragments. Avoid inserting a bullet or a carrot for
too many things. Reserve their use for achievements,
results and things that place you in a prominent light.
Templated forms like Word “headers and footers” seem
to be more of a headache than a benefit. Sure it insures
that certain information is there, but it might not be compatible
with all electronic forms and there can be too much information
that is repeated.
ITEMS: HEADING ON PAGE 1, PROFILE, OBJECTIVE
This past term, there were a couple of class members who
participated actively in class discussions, took leadership
and made their teams more effective. They did mock interviews
as interview participants and, significantly, interviewed
other class members. So, not only was the candidate’s
performance reviewed, but also the interviewer’s was
The incentive is that, as happened to me, recent hires
can be asked to interview and be on interview teams
within their first year. So it is good to gain some insight
and experience interviewing others.
Despite the fact that hiring mistakes can cost
a firm in many ways, training individuals to know how to
conduct effective interviews and evaluate people’s future
performance based on a highly stylized resume (with
many corrections and adaptations) and a short, pressure-
packed encounter is often over looked. It is observed
that some places assume anyone can conduct a good
interview, following their own instincts and looking
for similar tendencies.
I believe it takes some experience to develop a
style (assisting the interviewee to relax and perform at
his/her best), an approach (revealing the organization’s
culture), an observant eye and listening ear to be an effective
Training does help, like specialized training in Behavioral
based interviewing or embodying specific organizations
Just like conducting a win-win conversation, it gets off on
the “right foot” with a welcoming and prepared introduction
offering a confident and purposeful track (people know and
understand what they are to do) allowing equal participation.
The interviewer needs to know and avoid illegal topics.
The interviewer should consider examining
- if and where the candidate is interviewing elsewhere
- if the candidate would accept an offer, if offered (looking for
- if the candidate has thought or developed a career plan and
how the present position fits
- if the candidate works well with others with different backgrounds
- if the candidate communicates pertinent technical information
to different audiences well.
- if the candidate has any questions (showing research and
interest in the position)
At the end of the interview, the interviewer should capture:
1 what the candidate is good at, where it fits with needs
2 what the candidate is limited at
3 accomplishments and comparisons from previous bosses
4 enthusiasm and
5 will I like working with this person.
Red flags to watch for:
a does not admit failure or weaknesses
b takes credit for others efforts, insights or accomplishments
c tries hard to be “the” expert
d more interested in salary and benefits.
The world, as we know it, is not as things were when we
were growing up, before adulthood. A truism, if there
ever was, yet more than that. Listened to Ray Kurzweil
interview talking about his latest book ‘How to create a
mind’ where he remarked that we fill our brain with facts
by about age 20. The facts that we hold in them then
need to be realized for what they are then. We need to
learn to forget some, because 1-they are no longer needed,
2-they have been subsumed by more recent facts or
3-they are too complex and not easily assimilated.
S. Arbesman speaks about three kinds of facts as:
- very slowly changing facts, these are close to what
we determine as “objective truth”. The search in science
endeavors to get closer to this truth.
- very fast changing facts that are descriptions of the
moment and will usually fall within a range but depending
on a number of factors change.
- MESO-FACTS that shift slowly and are part of the
technological world in which we live. They change more
slowly than the fast-changing facts and we notice them
and sometimes have trouble dealing with them, as they
represent a certain notion of our understanding of the
world. Arbesman does a nice job of describing these
three patterns, which Kuraweil observes is what the
human brain does well.
In the world of Mesofacts there are interesting concepts
Arbesman points out:
long tail of discovery - new discoveries are not as startling
in an established field as a newly emerging one.
medium ties in social networks bear larger responsibility
for distributing mesofacts
rule of hidden knowledge - non-experts collaborating
have a better chance of producing solutions to hard problems
careful analysis of data needs to use various predictor
tools and indeces like p-value (statistical power– especially
p<0.05), sample size, error range, conflicts of interest,
causation vs. correlations (need confirmation), and precision
of the question. (See Wired Oct. 2012, p. 114)
INTERPRETING DATA WITH STATISTICS
So often innocent analyses of comparison data leads to
misleading conclusions as Cari Tuna pointed out in
an article about Simpson’s paradox on comparing average
of different items. Her example of two baseball batting
averages brought it out clearly. The article comments are
superb, as well. Also see 2 .
Science is continually opening new opportunities to
develop technologies to extend our human capabilities.
Photonics spectra highlighted innovations where
meta-materials created from layers of natural elements
and molecules have incredible properties that can
bend light backwards in some directions (negative
refraction). Silver and germanium layers produce
photonic integrated circuits. That same issue also
described spintronic circuits for quantum computing
So new opportunities are emerging on the horizon
that require us to adapt to new ways of thinking about
problems and how to solve them. As we see proposals
offered we need to constantly apply critical thinking
skills and take the extra effort to confirm experimental
findings with replicate experiments.