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Module 2: Commencement and Collaboration – Putting Ideas Into Practice

5.3 The recruitment interview

Recruitment to the position will then be required. This includes word of mouth, internal advertisement, external advertisement, various advertisement locations, and search processes. Examples of internal advertising strategies include: internal networks, noticeboards, and your university jobs website. Examples of external advertising strategies include: local, national and international newspapers, trade magazines, journals, recruitment websites such as Seek, word of mouth through collaborators at other institutions (nationally and internationally). There should be a match between the recruitment strategy used and staffing need. An international search for a part-time research assistant would be a waste of time and funds. Giving a difficult technical position to a friend because they need a job means that the best skills might not be acquired.

After responses to the recruitment round have been shortlisted, a selection is required. An interview gives the selection committee the opportunity to:

  • meet and get to know the applicants,
  • gain an improved understanding of their qualifications and background,
  • hear their approach to addressing particular issues,
  • gain a sense of how effectively they would integrate into the working environment,
  • provide applicants with information about the university and the work area,
  • ensure that applicants understand the tasks and responsibilities of the position.

In interviewing (either face to face or by video conference or phone) it is important to ask behavioural questions, such as:

  • "Tell me about a journal article that you have recently read on the topic of xxx, and what you found important about it."
  • "Tell me about your most-recent publication and the processes you went through to do the research and bring that paper to fruition."
  • "Give an example of when you worked in a team and what you found the most rewarding thing was in doing that."
  • Questions that relate directly to the selection criteria.

Interview questions should be open questions (as opposed to questions requiring a yes/no response), eliciting a good, detailed response from your interviewee. You will need to be aware of the appropriate procedures required for interviewing candidates at your university, and ensure that equitable processes are followed (e.g. ensure that all interviewees are asked the same questions). Some examples of possible interview questions include:

Questions to ascertain interest in, and suitability for, the job:

  • Why did you apply for this particular position?
  • Why would you like to work for this organisation?
  • What do you expect from your first graduate job?
  • Under what conditions do you work best?
  • What do you expect to be doing in 3 to 5 years time?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Do you have any questions you would like to ask us?

Questions to ascertain personal skills/attributes:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • Tell me about some responsibilities that you have taken on recently.
  • Tell us about an achievement of which you are particularly proud.
  • Tell us more about the supervisory responsibilities that you had in your part-time job.
  • Sum yourself up in 5 short phrases or 5 adjectives.
  • Give an example of when you have been able to participate and contribute in a team environment.
  • Give an example of how you have recently used your initiative.
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