Non-academic interviews: Applying What Academia Taught You

There are certain rules that you have learned as a Phd student  that you can apply when you are preparing for non-academic interviews. Here a few ways to take ownership of your transferable skills by applying academic job search principles outside of the ivory tower.


FIRST AND FOREMOST: You need to practice. While you are preparing for non-academic interviews, you must realize that you need as many mock interviews sessions as you would if you were to prepare for a tenure-track job interview. Seek people with tangible and relevant experience with the non-academic interview process. If you don’t know anyone that fits the bill, don’t hesitate to seek out the help of a professional. Refraining from doing so can put you at risk of having a bad experience which might negatively impact your self-confidence.



  • Research all web pages related to the target organization the same way you would research university missions, programs and faculty if you were prepping for an academic interview. You not only need to provide proof of your full knowledge of the organization, but you also need to reference some of its key aspects.


  • In the days leading up to the interview, compile potential questions and jot down key talking points the same way you would for an academic interview to avoid sounding too scripted or robotic.


  • As you would during any big seminar presentations or conferences, it is important to have a strong hold on your nerves. Positive self-talk, picturing the experience in a positive manner, and breathing exercises can help calm you down.



  • One word answers make you look silly on, campus or not. Make sure to provide examples to support your ideas the same way you would during an academic conversation, and don’t hesitate to provide short narratives to highlight your strengths. The STAR technique is great for that. Stories make you stand out from the crowd and make you memorable because they are unique to you.


  • Effective eye contact, good posture, self-assured movements, and tone are key elements that you need to monitor to positively reinforce your passion, sincerity and willingness to engage with others.



  • Once you’ve followed up with a personal thank-you email that demonstrates that you remember your interviewers, it’s important to conduct a thorough self-assessment of your performance.


  • How well did you do? What answers seemed to impress the interviewer most? Why? What were your worst answers? Why? What could you improve while preparing for non-academic interviews to perform better in the future?


Be honest, but don’t give yourself a beat down. Keep in mind that this is a learning experience. You will improve with practice. The more you practice and you rely on yourself and others to improve, the more you will learn to enjoy the process!



Want to learn more about the interview process? We got you covered. Download our free Quick Guide to Acing Non-Academic Job Interviews



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