Friday, September 21, 2007

Two-body problem

You get bonus job hunting stories! Courtesy of The Limey's life. May be boring to some people, but I know I appreciated hearing others' experiences while I was job-hunting and while I was in grad school and post-docing.

A while ago, The Limey applied for a job at a lab on the outskirts of London. It's a great lab, good reputation, and a really good job. A senior scientist position. He thought it was way out of his league- some of the other senior scientists there had been lecturers (lower ranked professors, for the 'Mericans). I convinced him to apply because, really, what did he have to lose? He didn't hear from them for weeks and assumed he hadn't made the cut. (Some places just don't let you know; it's so rude.)

Then he got a phone call asking if they could schedule some phone time to talk to him about the position. I guess the way they phrased it, he figured it would just be a quick chat, maybe to ask for his references and set up an in-person interview. He was happy, but didn't worry about it, so said Sure, I've got time tomorrow afternoon. It turned out to be a full-on formal phone interview. With a four person panel of scientists. They asked him all sorts of questions, ranging from "Where would you get funding for this type of work?" and "Which specific British industries and companies could benefit from this research?" to general physics questions. General physics questions! Like at your dissertation defense and qualifying exams! No one keeps general physics in their heads except for exams! That's what reference books are for!

Obviously, The Limey was in no way prepared. He was depressed for a week afterwards. I told him there was no way anyone could have done well at an interview like that without warning. If they hadn't made it clear that it was a formal interview, what do they expect?

Two weeks later, they called again asking for him to go over there to give a presentation and visit the labs.

Two days ago, they told him he's got the job.

I would like to state here that I take full credit for his getting this job. Every step of the way, he was convinced he wasn't qualified. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he refused to believe that he had the skills and experience they were looking for. You want to have been in this house while he was preparing his presentation. They had given him a few important points they wanted him to cover. These were things post-docs don't usually think about- they were things that concerned people who managed a research group, not the lowly bench workers in the research group. Every day I had to convince him that they obviously felt he had the background to do this. Every day I had to remind him that if they didn't think he could do it, they wouldn't have invited him over for the interview. Every day, he wanted to call them and withdraw his application. Aaargh. Eventually I told him to think of it as practice for other interviews.

Anyway, of course he got the job. He's a genius. I looked over his talk before he went over there- it was really good. It was easily at a senior scientist / lecturer level.

Now, of course, we're all very happy and everything. But we have to find a place to live between London and Southampton. Urrgh. It's looking like...Woking. I know. I know! But there's a direct train to S'hampton and The Limey can drive or train/bike to work. It'll be close to an hour's commute for him and a bit more than an hour for me.

Anyone have advice on how to find a place over there? Also, will the cat be an issue with renting? Freakin' cat. If she weren't so cute, I tell you...


chemgrrl said...

Whoa! Kick ass for the Limey! And for you, for being supportive and not killing him. :) Good luck on your house search.

Laura said...

I have no words of wisdom, but I am so, so pleased that you both have such great jobs lined up! Well done, and well deserved!

Teaandcakes said...

Having never been to Woking I can't help much but anyone I know who grew up there moved to Guilford as soon as they could.
The cat will be ok in some places and not in others. Some who say no pets may say it's ok once you explain it's one cat, so don't let their no petsness put your off an ad.

Dr. Jen said...

It is amazing! Who would have thought that one day you would be discussing the two body problem. I am happy for you.

Lien said...

Hey Congrats! I have a friend who I always run through potential interview questions with and mull over the experience afterwards. Best of luck with finding a place. Unfortunately, I've only ever been to London and that was a while ago!!

jacqueline said...

How is Woking pronounced?

Is it woe-king, wok-king, or some third weird brittish option?

Bezzie said...

That is awesome!!!! And go you for pushing him to apply for it. I did the same thing to my science hub and with the same results. Maybe someday they'll listen to us all the time right? ;-)