At YIM 2016, we asked representatives from different Institutes and Universities a few quick questions about faculty hiring.
What is the first thing you look for in a CV?
Apurva Sarin, inStem: An interesting research program.
Rupamanjari Ghosh, Shiv Nadar University: One ‘wow!’. Something outstanding. Not everything has to be exceptional, but there should be something that catches the eye.
Dhirendra Kumar, IIT Kanpur: At IIT Kanpur, we look for training, we look for pedigree, we look for publications; these are the 3 main things.
What factors most influence your impression of a candidate during an interview?
Apurva Sarin, inStem: The clarity of positioning their work, both in the field they work in, as well as contextualising their work to the Institute. At inStem this becomes particularly important.
Rupamanjari Ghosh, Shiv Nadar University: I look for originality. I also look for people who are ready for a challenge, and who do not give me standard answers. I am always looking for people who are a little different from most ‘usual’ candidates. Not only do new recruits have to be better than our current faculty, their CVs have to be a notch higher.
Dhirendra Kumar, IIT Kanpur: I’d say, the job talk is very important. Typically, the target audience is undergraduates, graduate students and faculty — the entire gamut. So, if he/she is effective to all of them, then they can be a good teacher. Effective communication is also important in bringing in funding and publishing. It is also important that he/she comes across as a deep, inquisitive thinker in individual meetings, and as a good colleague.
What are some things that graduate students/postdocs do to add value to their CVs/applications?
Apurva Sarin, inStem: For graduate students I’d say they should travel to meetings to get a sense of how questions are approached and how research is conducted in different places. Postdocs must write grants. I think it’s very, very important. It’s one thing that you really need as an investigator. Even if you don’t need it to run your lab, it certainly facilitates the way you present your problems and think about them. A teaching experience is also desirable, but not always possible.
Rupamanjari Ghosh, Shiv Nadar University: Maybe because of management influences, all CVs these days have started looking the same. Pedigree matters, but it is not all-important to me. I don’t go by stamps, I actually read papers. So students and postdocs simply have to do their research well. Their proposals are also important. They shouldn’t propose extensions of current work. It must match the Institute’s context and the equipment available.
Dhirendra Kumar, IIT Kanpur: That’s a tough question. Value addition doesn’t happen in a short time. All the things that the job needs — a good question to answer that can get funded and will sustain answering for many years, good communication and a good attitude towards science in general — the full package takes years. The full duration from the Masters onwards, you should work to gain all of these.