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Different countries have different ways of conducting a viva. I have a friend whose Portuguese procedure - lecture, intense questioning, all in front of an audience and all in his second language (English) at the request of his Portuguese 'superiors;' - was insane, and caused my supervisor, who was his advisor in the UK, to baulk at the system. In the UK, it's much gentler, and if you have a good supervisor, he/she will not encourage submission unless it's in a position to be defended with minimal cause for concern. I worked myself up into a frenzy of worry about my viva, but it really was not bad at all. Not enjoyable in the relaxed sense - who could relax 100%? - but with calm and non-aggressive, but still openly, and - crucially - honestly, critical, examiners, they help you to recognise your own inconsistencies or (minor) errors, in exactly the way that a collegiate endeavour that is science (or other academic study) should be. Relax, it'll be fine. Probably.

Another job app rejection letter

Quote From SimonG:
Unsurprisingly, this is a loooonnnnnnng thread. But it is also difficult in a sense, as there are clearly a lot of people in this position, in different disciplines and different places. I guess we're all united in one thing, but of course, there are variables with regard to speciality and location.

Skimming through this thread, there are two specific points I'd like to make:-
1. Most job recruitment agencies are self-serving. I have approached several on-line, and only one has bothered to get in contact with anything other than an automated reply. You have to bear in mind that any agency ultimately does what is best for itself. As it is clearly an employers market and the employers pay them, they are not going to bust a gut for individual applicants when they probably have two-dozen on their books suitable for every given job; and
2. it never ceases to amaze me the number of threads, blogs, forums, newspaper articles, etc on this subject, that are packed with people saying how many hundreds of job applications they are knocking out every week. Firstly, where are they finding all these jobs advertised? And secondly, given that the dogma - most especially at post-PhD level - is that every application has to be researched and tailored to individual employers, how do you have the time? I certainly do not wish to cause anyone here any offence, but if you are sacrificing quality on the altar of quantity, can you be too surprised that you're getting lots of rejection letters or nothing in reply?

On point #2, I'd be grateful of enlightenment.

PS: Biological science, post-successful viva, England.

As point No. 2, if you're unemployed, you sure do have a lot of time to tailor your application to any particular job or postdoctoral project! It really is a soul-destroing task to re-write cover letters and even re-jig a CV for each and every job that comes around that you have an interest in or might be qualified for. Problem is with postdoctoral research in science, what used to be the case -posts in which one could expand skills, interests and research bases, and in which one could experience different research environments - has seceded to run-of-the-mill type placements in which in-vogue and highly technical skills are required - and that's it! Still, there are some postdocs out there in which these desirable factors are still present. However, even if your application is relatively favourable, application feedback is as rare a beast as one could imagine! So, even if it is a good application - and often you only find this out if a PI contacts you some time after telling you and offering you something else, as luckily happened to myself recently - do you know if you're communicating ones' abilities appropriately. It's hard out there, but probably worth the fight.

Is it normal for some advertised postdoc positions to be offered without interview?

So, a little morality play to all those who applied for jobs for so many months: they are like buses! Well, not exactly. Turns out that these people from North America do want me and I'm about to apply for a visa, but in the meantime one post I applied for, although it turned out negatively for that project, the chief supervisor wrote back with a further proposal to work on analysis and paper authoring for 18 months in the south of France. Just goes to show - keep the faith! Keep plugging away, as hard as it may seem. Tough choice in the end; almost guaranteed authorship of 4+ papers with little risk and sunny weather, or, more prestigious "fellowship" with no guarantee of success and the chilly bite of the Arctic southerlies? What would everybody else choose? Careers are delicate beasts!

Is it normal for some advertised postdoc positions to be offered without interview?

Quote From TreeofLife:
I agree, it does seem strange for the US or Canada to not want to conduct an interview, especially, given the nature of US PhDs, the other applicants probably have more experience than someone with a PhD from the UK.
I guess there are underlying reasons for the lack of formal interview and these will probably become clear in time!

I know there's a lot of competition out there so I'm sure if they've chosen you for the position it's because it's warranted - so well done, and keep us informed of developments.

Cheers, I shall report back either in triumph or drunken despair. Time to put some eggs in other baskets, just in case.

No Job 5 months after graduating.

Quote From incognito:
Dear Biomaterials,
Join the club!!! I finished my PhD in Economics a few months ago and you can see from previous posts that I'm also unlucky. I applied to so many postdocs and jobs I've lost count. I'm still waiting on two teaching jobs and one job as a senior economist at a government institution so fingers crossed but everyone is telling me how hard it is to get jobs. What's worse, my PhD is from a top UK uni and my topic is very relevant to economic policy design and implementation.

The only thing you have to do is try: remember these are very tough times and I had to leave the UK to find a part-time teaching job at a college and even here in Canada it is very difficult to land jobs immediately after graduation. I've decided not to get stressed and depressed about it: my CV is great, I have friends around me, and I'm working on other things to improve my CV and myself as a person (publications, attending conferences, learning new skills, self-improvement in general). Have you considered volunteer work to get experience? I'm doing that on the side at the moment.

Keep in touch and don't get depressed. I don't think you need to change your field. I would consider part-time employment and volunteer work temporarily if I were you.

I would definitely agree with volunteer work, if only for a short while - it looks extremely good on your CV. If you're lucky, this could co-incide with your career aspirations. Otherwise, it may be worth writing to interesting research groups and perhaps offer your services for a short period of time, particularly if you have any ideas for future collaborations. These 'internships' may lead to something more permanent and paid, or a co-authored grant proposal.

I really need to take my phd seriously

I found the first year to be the most relaxed, with a concentration on reading and prep lab work and experimental design. It felt like it was fairly straight forward and gave an ultimately false impression of how 'easy' it might be to get a PhD. Sure, you need to make such progress to pass the MPhil stage, but hey, you can still go and get soused on a Friday night! This doesn't last long, though. Enjoy it while you can, is my advice. However, the better prepared you are in the early days, the less stressful it becomes in the latter stages.

Is it normal for some advertised postdoc positions to be offered without interview?

Thanks for the reply, TreeofLife. Yes, I have a British PhD. The fellowship is in North America, so I'm less inclined to think they'd be bowled over by my possession of a PhD from the UK, as good as it may be. I also have a Masters and accumulated a bit of experience in the private sector when I was writing-up. I never considered my CV to be that strong, but maybe I've been doing myself a disservice. The insane amount of competition in the post-doctoral world really is something to behold! In a weird way, I'd like to have an interview, just so I can get a vibe of the PIs, even though I'm not that picky a person and easy to get on with, despite my extreme displeasure and shoddy performances in them, generally. The main PI did give me contact details for former postdocs in the lab, which is another positive, I suppose. I wish my referees would hurry up though with their hagiographies, er, accurate portrayals of my brilliance...

Is it normal for some advertised postdoc positions to be offered without interview?

Forgive me if this topic has been covered before, but I cannot find a similar one using the search option. My issue is this: after 20-odd applications and just the two interviews in just under a year, I was getting a little tired of rejection. I've re-jigged my CV - keeping everything truthful, of course - until I started to receive a little more attention. Now, on the basis of seemingly the CV alone, I exchanged very promising emails with a Prof in another country who, without directly saying the fellowship was mine, intimated as such - by saying such things as "we'll give you a letter" for the visa, the remuneration is such and such with travel reimbursements, and that you need hardly be Einstein to secure a second year of funding (lucky me, or for whomever actually gets it in the end), and that he needed someone in place ASAP (without specifying any kind of itinerary); mostly the kind of stuff you discuss after successful interview. Now, with Skype and other 21st century wonders, I would've expected at least an interview over the interweb. Maybe this is forthcoming, as he has requested references. The project, whilst not being totally unrelated to my PhD is different enough to make this a very desirable venture. I've tried to hide my desperation behind a veneer of cool acceptance when corresponding. Hope my hopes haven't been raised by a sad misunderstanding.

Anybody had similar experiences, bearing in mind this guy does not know me from Adam (but might know my PhD supervisor) and my publication record - thus far - is not prolific, although this is being worked on?

Actually, one more thing. Is the number of "highly competitive" applicants to have applied for every postdoc always number between 30-35? Seems the same 30-odd people apply for the same one's I do....And when a PI says they'd like to keep you in mind for further PDRA positions when funding becomes available, is that BS, cos it sure smells like it?!