A well-crafted application and well-prepared interview can make all the difference when it comes to landing your dream job! The PDC is here to help, by providing you feedback on your CV and helping you prepare for interview.
We also offer one-to-one meetings to discuss your career progression and plans.
Our support is of course confidential.
Please note that our 1 to 1 support is limited to research staff at Queen's; postgraduate students can avail from similar support at The Graduate School, and undergraduate students from Careers, Employability and Skills (more about who we support).
Invited for an interview? Congratulations! The PDC can help you prepare either by organising a mock interview, providing 1 to 1 interview coaching or by sending you examples of questions.
Another great way to prepare yourself for a future interview: volunteer to act as a panel member for PDC interviews! In addition to helping a fellow postdoc prepare for their big day, experiencing the process "from the other side of the table" is tremendously helpful.
Types of support
There are different ways we can help you, depending on what you prefer and what our schedule can accommodate. We focus on providing this support for individuals who have been invited for a specific interview. For general interview skills training, we advise that you attend group workshops on the topic (we may be able to organise a general 1 to 1 chat but with less urgency).
We can provide interview support face-to-face (PHA guidance allowing) or via MS Teams, advising you to choose the format from your real interview. Face-to-face interviews would usually be organised in the R&E building, 63 University Road.
The PDC does not provide feedback or questions on the actual research; we advise that you organise another mock interview with PIs from your department or in the relevant field to get feedback on your research (especially for fellowships and lectureships).
Mock interviews for fellowships (from an external funding body and with QUB as host institution) will be arranged by the Research Development team and involve a panel of PIs from the research area.
PDC Mock interviews:
PDC mock interviews are delivered by Alice and a panel of volunteer postdocs. The mock interview itself is conducted in a formal atmosphere to put the candidate in "interview mode". The candidate is introduced to the panel like at a real interview, practices their presentation and gets asked questions (based on "real-life" questions from the PDC bank or specially tailored to the post they have applied to). After the mock, the panel provides the candidate with constructive feedback on the presentation and answers, including tips and advice to improve and get ready for the big day! This usually takes 2 h.
One-to-one coaching session with Alice; like a PDC mock interview but without a panel; for example when the time-frame is too short to organise a mock interview or when no volunteers are available. The 1 to 1 can be conducted as a mock or as a discussion, as you prefer. You will be able to ask questions and help related to what you are the most worried about. This usually takes 1-1.5 h.
When it isn't possible to organise a mock interview or coaching session, the PDC will send you a few questions to help you prepare.
Sit on panels:
Experiencing an interview as a panel member is very useful to learn about the type of questions that are asked and how to answer these questions, as well as reflect on your readiness for similar positions. It also is very helpful to the candidates and they are always highly thankful to the volunteer panel members.
The PDC highlights mock-interview opportunities by email (specific email or as part of round-up emails of opportunities) and places are allocated in a first-come first-serve manner. Individuals who are invited for interview for the same post are not eligible to join a panel and all panellists are bound to confidentiality.
Procedure to get support
- Email the PDC (firstname.lastname@example.org), providing: the type of support you prefer, your interview date, the job description, your application, what you have been asked to prepare (presentation with topic, time or any other interview information you've been given), your preferred channel (face-to-face or online) and a few time slots you would be available for
- The PDC will contact you with availability (we will always try to sort you out in the best of our abilities within the the time-frame available but the sooner the request, the better the support) and look for panellists if relevant
- We will confirm date, time and place with everyone
- Research the department/company.
- Review the job description and find examples to show how you meet the criteria.
- Request your interview support as soon as possible (it takes time to get volunteers and organise it and Alice's schedule can be busy).
- Ask for a mock interview even if you don't feel confortable in front of people; the postdocs in the panel are here to help and the experience will help demystifying the whole process so that you are less uncomfortable at the real interview.
We can provide feedback on the CV or cover letter that you have prepared for a specific job application. Depending on your preferences and our schedule, we may provide this feedback by email and on your documents or via a one-to-one meeting.
How to book your 1 to 1:
All you need to do is email the PDC (email@example.com) with your draft of CV along with the job specifications and proposition of dates/times for the meeting (1 h, if relevant; sometimes providing feedback by email is sufficient). Meetings can be held in person (PHA guidance allowing) in the R&E building (63 University Road) or via MS Teams.
Make sure that your CV is tailored to the job and demonstrates your suitability to the post. For help getting started, have a look at the CVs Postdoc Help Doc.
You can book a 1 to 1 meeting with Alice to discuss (for example) your career plan, issues you are facing in your job or any topic you want to talk about.
We are always keen to help postdocs and will do the best we can, but it is important to note that we aren't experts in every topic, are not trained as career advisors, counselors or mediators. We will listen to you, ask you questions to help you reflect on your problem and find your own solutions. While we may share some advice or some of our own experience when appropriate, we won't tell you which career to choose or what to do as it is important that your decisions are YOURS.
While we are here to listen if you are experiencing issues with your manager or colleagues, we may not be able to help much, and advise that you visit our guidance page for some tips on how to approach your issue.
If you feel overwhelmed and need mental health support, please reach out to the professionals at Inspire, which provide free 24/7 confidential counselling to all staff (0800 086 9934 and see Employee Assistance Programme).