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Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

Interpersonal Skillsn

Interpersonal Skillsn How important is it to you to be liked by yourcolleagues, and why?n If you heard through the grapevine that someonedid not care for you, what would you do, if anything?n Tell me about a situation in which your work wascriticized. How did you rectify the situation?n Describe a scientist whom you like and respect.What do you like about that person?Cultural Differences. You may find yourselfconsidering applicants from different cultureswhose beliefs, such as those about self-promotion,collaboration, and deference, may differ from yourown. Take this into account when conducting yourinterview, especially if the applicant seems to beunder-selling his or her achievements.Tips for Conducting an Interviewn Before you begin, try to make the applicant feelcomfortable. Make appropriate small talk, offer abeverage, and compliment the applicant on makingit thus far in the selection process. Remember thatthe applicant is also deciding whether he or shewants to work for you.n Develop professional rapport and be friendly, butavoid a social atmosphere.n Explain how the interview will be structured.n Briefly describe the selection process.n Outline the responsibilities for the open position.n Convey your expectations about the job. Includevalues that may seem obvious to you, such as yourcommitment to lab safety and scientific rigor.n Know your own local laws and customs pertainingto what questions can and cannot be asked at jobinterviews, and keep in mind which (if any) topicsmust be avoided.n Take brief notes. Record actual answers toquestions, not evaluative or conclusive comments.Later, when thinking through whether to offer theapplicant a job, you may find that these answersgive you more insights into the applicant’s characterand thinking than you were aware of when youwere sitting and talking with the person.n Listen carefully. Let the applicant do most of thetalking.n Develop a high tolerance for silence. Give theapplicant a chance to think and develop thoughtfulanswers to your questions.n Give the applicant many chances to ask questions.This will give you some insight into what isimportant to him or her.n Never make promises or give commitments, evenones that may seem innocent to you.n Ask the applicant about his or her timetable forleaving the current job, even if you asked it duringthe telephone interview.Before ending the interview, do the following:nnnGive the applicant a chance to add anything elsehe or she thinks may be important for you to knowin making your decision.Make the applicant aware of the next steps, such asadditional interviews and the time frame for hiring.Thank the applicant for his or her time.Evaluating ApplicantsBefore you begin evaluating an applicant, makesure you have all of the necessary information.Conduct any reference interviews you wereunable to complete before the interview. Gatheropinions from others who have met with theapplicant. As needed, seek guidance from yourdepartment and other relevant departments atyour university.Maintaining ObjectivityAs in any situation that involves interpreting interpersonalbehavior, objectivity in evaluation may bedifficult. Nevertheless, try to avoid the following:n Relying too heavily on first impressions.n Making a decision too early in the interview, beforeasking all questions.n Downgrading an applicant because of a negativecharacteristic that is not relevant to the job itself,such as a particular regional accent, or having cometo the interview wearing clothes that have clearlybeen used by generations of the family’s job seekers.40 excellence everywhere

n Allowing a positive characteristic to overshadowyour perception of all other traits—an applicant’sposh accent, polished presentation, or tangentialassociation with someone famous might makethem seem impressive on meeting, but have littlesubstance in the workplace.n Judging the applicant in comparison with yourself.n Comparing applicants with each other, rather thanaccording to the selection criteria (e.g., if you havebeen interviewing poorly qualified applicants, youmay rate merely average applicants highly).n Allowing factors not directly related to the interviewto influence your estimation of the applicant (e.g.,interviewing during times of the day when youmay be tired).What to Look ForIn addition to determining whether the applicanthas the qualifications required to perform well inyour lab, you should also keep the following pointsin mind:n Consider the “chemistry.” Pay attention to yourintuitive reaction to the person. Look for a personwho is interested in and able to get along withothers.n Ascertain whether the applicant is a good fit. Keepin mind that you are building your team and needpeople with the skills and personalities to getthings done. Look for people who have a trackrecord of productivity and have demonstrated anability to learn new skills.n Seek someone who has a passion for science anda strong work ethic. Enthusiasm, a can-do attitude,and the willingness to go the extra mile are criticalattributes.n Check the applicant’s career plans. Knowing whatthe applicant wants to be doing in five or tenyears can give you insight into his or her scientificmaturity and creativity, as well as his or hercommitment to a specific research area.n Be certain the applicant is committed to goodresearch practices. Recordkeeping and reportingresults are even more important now than in thepast because of patent and other legal issues.Insist on the highest level of scientific integrityfrom anyone you are considering.Red FlagsWarning signs during an interview that shouldalert you to potential problems include:n Unwillingness to take responsibility for somethingthat has gone wrong.n Complaining about an advisor and coworkers.n Demanding privileges not given to others.n Delaying answering questions, challenging yourquestions, or avoiding answering them altogether.Humor and sarcasm can be tools to avoid answeringquestions.n Unless you have been rude, responding to aninterview question with anger is never appropriate.n Incongruence between what you hear and whatyou see (e.g., grudging replies and slouching arenot signs of an eager, assertive candidate even ifhe or she is saying all the right things).n Trying to control the interview and otherwisebehaving inappropriately.Making the OfferBefore you make an offer, check with theappropriate people in your department or yourinstitution to learn which, if any, items relatedto the job are negotiable and whether you areresponsible for negotiating them. In some institutions,the initial salary that you can offer will beset for you. In others, you may be given someleeway within a predetermined range appropriatefor the job description.Once you have identified the person you wish tohire, contact him or her to extend the offer anddiscuss start date, salary, and other conditions ofemployment. Be sure to check with the appropriateoffice in your institution first to determine whetheryou or they will make this contact and cover theseissues.Inform All of the ApplicantsFirst, inform the person you have selected. If heor she turns down the offer, you can move on toyour second choice.GETTING STARTED: Equipping Your Lab and Hiring People41

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