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Talking to HR representatives when interviewing for a research posn

  1. Nov 23, 2013 #1
    Hi All,

    I've got an upcoming "chat" with an HR representative for a research position at an industry research facility. I am a computationalist and I think I would love the position. However, the specific numerical methods they work with (being more based on finite-element methods) are not something I have demonstrable research experience in. My own research has been focused on more computational linear algebra methods. However, my career (and how I market myself) has been focused on strong numerics and high-performance computing (HPC) and I'm certainly extremely familiar with finite-element methods (and have used them in previous industry internships), though not the exact methods.

    My problem is that I am having an initial interview with an HR person (not a physicist/computationalist), so how do I communicate: No, I have not exactly used those modeling buzzwords but I've written extremely efficient, customized (i.e. not just "out-of-the-box") codes, based in a half-a-dozen or so different numerical methods throughout my classroom, industry and research career and in the time until taking up the position I am extremely confident I could become expert at those exact method before starting the job.

    How do I convince someone of that without talking about any specific scientific/mathematical explanation or justification relating to the exact methods?

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2013 #2


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    Don't try to over-think this, and don't confuse them (HR people they are mostly bears of little brain - to be fair, they have some skills, but understanding science and technology are rarely top of the list).

    Just tell them everything that could possibly be relevant to the situation, and which isn't actually false. E.g. if you have used commercial FE programs X Y and Z, that's a true fact, even if you never made any models similar to the work you are being offered.

    Your objective is to get an interview with somebody technical. That's the place to have a proper technical discussion.
  4. Nov 24, 2013 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    Gold Member

    Try to locate some research person there, and talk to them also.
    I once was told by an HR person that I had to know 'operational methods' when all that meant in that job was
    letting d/dx=p instead of D. It was only a summer job, but I got it.
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