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PostDoc Interview Baiting

Hi everyone,

I'm almost a post doc pending the submission of my minor corrections. Have a BSc in Humanities and an MRes. In addition to my education, I also have extensive fieldwork experience and I am a very specific methods expert in a very specific part of the world with no publications.

So far, I've applied for two post doc research associate positions and a research and engagement officer position. All three times I've been told post interview that I didn't possess the 'right' experience or education background.

What I don't understand is how on earth an interview could rectify this? I dont appreciate PIs wasting time for RAs they never wanted. I'd rather have been told no from the beginning. I feel it is unfair to raise hopes when I never had a chance from the beginning.

Also feel familar connections with PIs play a big role in successful applications.

Has anyone else experienced this? Or is just me?

About to quit my PHD

Hi there,

I can relate to some elements of your experience. I got accepted into a PhD scholarship program after pushing through a gruelling MRes in Social Research Methods. I had two weeks of space between PhD onboarding and handing in my MRes dissertation. (*cue gasp*)

But, during the entire PhD proposal pre-program meetings with supervisors and my university's Head of Research every gut instinct told me not to do it. I received my acceptance letter and initially was so happy but this soon feel into dread as I came from a policing/criminal justice background and my doctorate is in politics.

Alot of tears later I decided, Im not afraid of a new challenge and decided to push through 1) not having any connections into the participant community i was interested and 2) being unfamiliar with the theories and scholarly field within my projects field.

4 years later, Im now postdoc but at a huge cost and deficit for my mental health and wellbeing. I never told my supervisors about how I really felt and had to talk myself out of quitting more times than I can count. Now, I didnt quit as I am a perfectionist and care deeply how others receive me. I shouldn't but hey.

I'm now trying to find a postdoc job to no success and constantly being turned away from good interviews to be told you dont have the right experience and specialism. So why interview me?!?

Like you, I was told use your masters. You'll be really good for this. But this wasn't part of my plan. It was the plan others saw for me. I will tell you first and second year is really difficult because you're trying to figure things out still. That's normal to not be 100% sure. I actually boosted my Political Science case study with additional theories in my 3rd year as it made more sense. Its completely normal to change course but you must justify and be able to stand behind your decision making in the course of designing your research.

Lastly, the decision to leave is not a light one. If you did decide to, I'd have a back up plan first. There is no consequence if you have something else lined up in my eyes. The decision for me to ignore my voice has caused me alot of anguish, I did push through but at a huge cost. It might just be you have yet to read or find scholars who engage you yet, or that you havent met your network of others who are in the same field.

Nothing is worth your mental health.

Help! First months of study and really confused

Okay, deep breath. It's completely normal not to have anything substantive written by the first two months. (I didn't draft my introduction chapter until my final year!)

It appears they are trying to observe your writing style or at least ascertain your intentions for this study after reading a little.

Normally it is best to write the introduction last after, your data has been processed. However, what you can do is an indicative chapter of where you intend to take each chapter.

An introduction normally looks like,

Background of study
Aims and research objectives
Literature Gap
Theories and substantive concepts
Summary of Findings
Introductory conclusion

Obviously at this point you can only proceed on the first three, possibly four chapter sections. So why not show them something like this? Break the sections down and write without thinking too much about it. Go back and edit. Read bit more and go back and edit.

It is better that you show some form of literature related understanding of your study approach, even if you show what approaches you will not use and why. So show which theories/scholars have symmetry to yours and those who provide tensions for your arguments.

As a doctoral candidate you need to demonstrate control of your methods and resources. Being sure of what you want to do and how you will do it will make everything easier at the end.

I hope this helps. Protect your mental health first ๐Ÿ˜Š You are obviously talented beyond belief. We all are ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Ps, Im a PolSci PostDoc and have a MRes in social research methods. Trust me, your self belief is your strongest weapon.