Congratulations! You’ve been shortlisted! Now it’s time to prepare for the interview.

The STAR technique

When preparing your answers and evidence, try to ensure your response is clear. A useful approach is the ‘STAR technique’, where you organise your answer to include:

  • Situation – the situation that you were in
  • Task – what you needed to do or achieve
  • Action – the actions you took or the skills/approaches used
  • Result/Review – what happened, the outcome, successes, results

Describing your research skills to employers

The key to articulating your skills and experience to employers is to look beyond the specifics of what you are and do, and instead think about how and why you do things, and what this means in a broader context.

For example, you may be a postdoctoral organic chemist and may be researching a very specific field or conducting very specific experiments. Many non-academic employers will neither understand nor be interested in this. You need to explain your skills and experience in a way that helps them to:

  • Understand what you have done (in non-technical terms);
  • Interpret why this is important (the skills you used/experience you gained) and that it is of high quality;
  • See how this will enable you to do the job well and help them to achieve their aims.

If you can explain your experience and skills well, this not only shows that you understand yourself, but that you also understand them and what they need.

Think about your experiences and skills and what they say about who you are and what you are capable of. Employers are interested in your potential. How can what you’ve done before predict your future performance as an employee? Start to see yourself as someone who has transferable skills, enthusiasm and drive; someone who can make a difference and would be a valuable addition to any organisation.

You will need to communicate this clearly to any potential employer – to help you with that, practice some interview questions with people outside your field and with a PFDC mock interview. Remember that they do not need to understand or care about the specifics of your research topic (even though you do). What they care about is what you are capable of and what you might offer them or their business.