In a parallel universe far far away, I was interviewing postgraduate applicants for my research group at the University of Sydney. Most of the applications were pretty bad, because come on, it’s the University of Sydney.
In order for an application to warrant an interview, I had to think it was really darn good, because I hated doing interviews. Interviews took time away from my important academic work, which involved thinking about research and taking naps.
Given that I went into interviews already thinking the applicant was good, they had an easy job. All they needed to do was prove me right, and I love being right.
Most of them turned out to be shit. For some reason they were all terrified that I was going to pick apart their applications and rip them a new one. I was going in with a positive paper impression and actively looking for reasons to justify my impression. I don’t think they realized that all they needed to do was not screw up.
We have a number of interviews in coming weeks, with people who have far better things to do with their time. Somehow they reckon we’re worth a meeting, which means they’ll probably spend that hour or so trying to prove themselves right. All we need to do is help them along.