From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

June 2020
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Interviewing Preparation
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 9:48 am

Hi!  Although you will read about a couple of other topics in this email
exchange, please focus on the interview preparation.  To help the
readers(s) obtain some context, I will simply offer some exchanges
over time…

 Dear Dan,            Sept. 15

Hope you had a nice trip back.  I stopped by on Wednesday
afternoon to say goodbye, but I think Mary and you had already left. 
Ray (I forgot his last name) said he is a good friend of yours and he
helped review my resume again.  I can’t thank you enough for
encouraging me to go to this ACS meeting.  I ended up having 5
interviews.  Although two of them from Merck, and one asked
for citizenship, I still learned a lot.  And the workshop was very
helpful too. During the meeting, I also got to know other
opportunities for chemists.  Would you be able to recommend a
good source for non-bench jobs for chemists, such as
administrative?  Do you have to do research work first anyway
to eventually get there?  I didn’t get the chance to ask the consultant
service there.  Thank you so much for any information.

Best Regards,

 Hi J,                  Sept. 16 

I believe you referred to Ray O’Donnell in your note. 
… a good source for non bench jobs– Lisa Balbes.

The rest of the note responds to other elements of your kind
message.  You were very successful in getting 5 interviews at the
meeting.  Only the very best obtain more than one per day! 
It is not unusual for better interviewers to ask about citizenship. 
It is not a bad thing if you have the credentials they are seeking. 
Have you posed the follow-up questions that should be asked after
interviews?  Please see a recent posting in my blog about this. 
I think it could help in listing what you should learn about yourself
and intervewing.  Have you written thank you notes to each interview?

J, when thinking about other jobs outside of the lab, think about
what motivates you the most.
 Do you like working with people? 
 Do you like implementing things or making things work?
 Have you considered working in a small company?  This might end up being “out of the lab”.

To have a non-lab job, one might consider having experience in such roles.  One could should show skills
that show and aptitude for working with people or computers.

J, hope this helps.

 Dear Dan,                           Sept. 22

I have sent out thank you notes last weekend after I came back.
A few of them replied, a few didn’t.  I am not sure what you mean
by “follow-up questions” but I will be glad to look for them on your
blog. Do you mean questions like how long I will hear from them?
They all told me 2 to 3 weeks.
As to non bench jobs, I was thinking of applying for consulting
companies such as Mckinsey,,
as what they call APD (advanced professional degree). But since I
know nothing about this at all, still kind of  wondering.  I do like
to work with people, but like  you said, not with much experience,
and also, might be because I have been playing with instruments for
too long.  The small company idea is great, but the problem with me
is small company might not be stable enough and if anything happens
to the company, I will be messed up with the visa issue.

Thanks again for all your kindest help and encouragement.

have a great weekend,


J,                                        Oct. 3 

I do recommend contacting Katherine as she is a very energetic
and proactive person who has good insight into ACS and career

Is there anything I might do for you in the short term?
I will be unavailable for a couple of weeks and not reachable
via email or phone.


Thanks. I will contact Katherine then. I have just received an invitation
to onsite interview with Merck–I had interview with them at the ACS
meeting. Any advice on onsite interview and what questions I should ask? 
Thanks again for encouraging me to go to ACS.  I will let you know how it goes.

have a good day,

One Response to “Interviewing Preparation”

  1. site admin Says:
    Hi J, Delighted to hear of your success.
    Please recognize that 1 in 100 got screened
    into the screening interview in SF. Then,
    1 in 25 were selected from the screening
    interviews for this prestigious interview.

    Nice work!

    Now for Merck: please consider four things
    1. Speak to your boss and ask if he could
    do a performance review of you…what do
    you do well, what do you need to improve,
    what were your key contributions.
    2. Speak to various profs and ask if they
    know any one working at Merck. Call them
    and speak with them about the position
    for which you are being considered.
    What is it like at Merck? Do some specific
    learning about Merck, its business, its advantages,
    its goals and its culture.
    3. Please write if you have not done so yet
    a 1-page research summary of your work.
    Be prepared to speak to this and hand it out
    during your interview.
    4. Please look at the blog in the interview
    section, expecially the pieces on interview
    preparation. One series on interview preparation
    for Dow might be helpful.

    There is no question you will enjoy and benefit
    from the Merck interview. It is part of your professional

    Good luck and keep me posted.


    PS Is this what you are seeking?

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