Day 2 preview: How to Articulate Your Transition Story in a Non-Academic Interview, by Heidi Scott Giusto

Three Key Considerations for Your Non-Academic Job Interview

Congratulations! You just landed your first non-academic job interview! Now what?

Unlike many academic job interviews that occur in set stages—for instance, first at a conference and then over the course of several days on campus—job interviews outside of academia can vary widely in format and details.

Here are three considerations to have in mind as you prepare for your non-academic job interview.

Key consideration #1: Who will be interviewing you?

To prepare effectively, it’s important to know who will be interviewing you because the interviewers’ backgrounds will likely affect the questions they ask.

If the interviewer is in human resources, he or she will probably ask about your background, where you’ve worked previously, why you are interested in the company, and other general interview questions. A human resources professional will be less likely to prod you into sharing highly detailed technical expertise.

A future peer, however, might want to know specifics about your knowledge and experience with Java or R, for instance. Because this person might need to rely on you and work collaboratively with you, he or she will want to know you are as skilled in your knowledge domains as you claim.

Your future boss might want to learn more about your past achievements and failures and if you work well in teams. Someone in management may also ask questions about former employers to see if you speak positively or negatively about them.

In short, each interviewer’s unique experiences, concerns, and knowledge domains will inform his or her questions.

Key consideration #2: What do the interviewers need to know about your background and experience?

Most people—especially academics—cringe at the thought of marketing themselves. Self-promotion can feel downright uncomfortable and unnatural. Who wants to do that? Well, I would say anyone who wants a job.

When preparing for the interview, think about what the interviewers need to know about you, so they understand why you are a good fit for the position and company. Then, prepare your talking points accordingly.

If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on this consideration, feel free to download this free audio clip, in which I share one of my top interview tips that I offer clients.

Key consideration #3: What type of interview is it?

Hopefully, as soon as you receive notification of the interview, you’ll be informed of the type and duration as well. Because academics can be unfamiliar with the distinctions, I will describe each of the most common formats.

Phone interview: The phone interview is often called a screening interview because it is conducted with an HR professional who often reviews many candidates for their qualifications and overall fit. These interviews are frequently scheduled for 20–30 minutes, but don’t be surprised if they last up to an hour if the conversation is going well. Take care beforehand to make sure your cell phone’s battery is fully charged, to check that you have good reception in the location you plan to have the call, and to dress as you would for an in-person interview because it can help you get in the right mental framework.

Skype interview: Virtual Skype interviews might last up to an hour (or even more) but often are scheduled for 20–30 minutes. Since you’ll be seen as well as heard, Skype interviews allow you to use non-verbal communication such as body language and facial expressions to show your interest and enthusiasm for the position, but many interviewees still find this method of interviewing uncomfortable. To help negate the discomfort and build confidence, conduct a mock interview or two via Skype to make sure you are speaking clearly and looking at the camera (rather than at the screen or your keyboard).

Pre-recorded video interview: If you haven’t heard of this one yet, steel yourself: some companies conduct video interviews in which you receive questions one at a time and then have a set amount of time (often a few minutes) to record each of your answers. I have heard of large tech and retail companies using this type of interviewing. Unfortunately, your opportunity for a human connection is mostly eliminated in this type of screening. On the plus side, because these are often screening interviews, they are not long in duration.

In-person interview: This is the most common and well-known type of interview. It might be scheduled for a set amount of time with a single person (one hour with your potential boss), over lunch with a potential future peer, or for, what I call, a marathon interview—an interview that occurs over an entire day. In a marathon interview, you’ll likely meet with a range of people that might include future peers, your future boss, and even the company’s executive or president. These interviews can be intense, but they also give the applicant a clearer understanding of the company culture and what it might be like to work there. Depending on the type of position you’re interviewing for, you might also be asked to take a proficiency test on the core subject matter the job requires. This can range from a writing or editing test to a technical test on a software application, such AutoCAD.


Interviewing outside of academia has its challenges just like it does within the academy. By taking these three key considerations into account before your interview, you’ll be able to approach your non-academic interview as a confident, informed, and prepared candidate.

Heidi Scott Giusto will present How to Articulate Your Transition Story in a Non-Academic Interview on Saturday, 13 May, at 4:00pm EDT as part of the 4th annual Beyond the Professoriate conference! Register here.

Day 2 preview: Leveraging Your PhD, by Catherine Maybrey

PhDs are all about knowledge. Whether it is sharing knowledge in classrooms with students, or presenting research findings in journals, at conferences, or with peers, it doesn’t matter. Knowledge is king or queen, as the case may be. So what happens when someone with a PhD doesn’t know the answer? It’s no big deal if you get a question wrong on Jeopardy, but when it comes to not knowing what’s next with your career after the PhD, well, that is a big deal. It’s not discussed openly, though. It is the fear that we whisper in dark corners, the conversation that is relegated to the shadows.

It’s time to turn on the lights, people! We all have the same fears and anxieties, so this year, I’m bringing PhD career uncertainty front and center with my Beyond the Professoriate session, Leveraging Your PhD: Identifying Career Paths to Suit You and Your Goals. It’s okay not to know what happens next, or what direction you’ll take, but you will have to do something eventually.

In our time together, I’m going to show you how to explore your career options based on all of the strengths, skills, and experiences you already have. I’ll also share evidence that your PhD has value (you know I love my employment studies!), and provide you with resources for taking those important first steps. Whether you have ideas on potential career paths or you are right at the beginning, you’ll walk away with resources and strategies for moving forward into the next phase of your career.

Catherine Maybrey will present Leveraging Your PhD: Identifying Career Paths to Suit You and Your Goals on Saturday, 13 May, at 11:00am EDT as part of the 4th annual Beyond the Professoriate conference! Register here.

How to Find and Land Your Next Great Job

Demystifying the job search process.

Maren and I know from our work with PhDs that there can be a lot of misinformation out there about how to effectively navigate a job search beyond the professoriate.

We want smart, talented people — that’s you — working wherever they can best make a difference in the world. That means both within and without academia. Our Day 2 presentations (on 13 May) will teach you how to find and land your next great gig.

–> Register for the conference.

Applying for jobs is only part of the process.

When it comes to career management, you can’t start too early, and it’s never too late to change up your strategy. Rachel Leventhal-Weiner will break down all the stages of the job search process.

Identify career paths that suit you and your goals.

Catherine Maybrey is one of our most popular speakers. We’re so glad she keeps coming back! This time around she’ll take us through the process of figuring out what works for you, career wise.

Yes, you have to network and market your skills and experiences.

The word “brand” make you cringe? Try “reputation” or “I’m known for…” instead if you prefer. Whatever you call it, successful professionals recognize that understanding their own strengths is a strength. Communicating honestly with potential colleagues, collaborators, and employers is key to building a meaningful, rewarding career.

Join Heidi Scott Giusto (another audience fave from years past), Kristine Funch Lodge, and Jared Wesley for sessions on job documents, interviewing, and networking and branding.

Hiring works differently outside academia.

Josh Magsam’s been part of the hiring process at Discogs for the past four years, a company that’s grown from 12 employees to over 50 of them since he joined the team after his PhD.

He’ll talk to us about how hiring works from the employer’s side, sharing key tips and strategies job seekers can use to up their chances of securing a great position. (Read a preview of this session.)

Need more info?

Just ask! We’re happy to answer emails or jump on the phone (or Zoom) with anyone who wants to talk to us about whether the conference is right for them. Simply respond to this email or get us at

Ready to register? Do that right here!

Who’s Coming to the Conference? Fun Stats about Attendees

I took a look at our attendee stats last week and found some expected and less expected things!

Keep reading to learn more about field of study, current position, and country of residence.

STEM, humanities, social sciences, and everyone else.

We asked individual ticket purchasers to tell us what fields they study or studied. We have a pretty diverse group of folks coming. Neat!

  • 28% are in STEM fields, including biological and biomedical sciences, engineering, physical sciences, and others
  • 26.5% come from the humanities (like me and Maren)
  • 24.6% are from social sciences
  • 16.3% indicated psychology
  • 9.8% said education
  • 8.3% said health fields
  • 4.2% come from business and professional fields
  • 4.9% chose other/prefer not to respond

We know these numbers don’t add nicely up to 100%: a bunch of people chose more than one field.

Not just graduate students.

We have some groups of students joining us from the University of Lincoln, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. But when it comes to individual ticket purchasers — who account for the vast majority of our attendees — forty eight percent are graduate students. More numbers:

  • 48.1% are graduate students
  • 16.3% are postdocs
  • 12.5% work in nonfaculty roles
  • 12.1% are part-time faculty members, including adjuncts
  • 10.6% say they are un- or underemployed
  • 8% are full-time faculty members (yup!)
  • 5.3% are self-employed
  • 3.8% other or prefer not to respond

Again, the numbers don’t add up because folks could choose more than one response. Part-time faculty members were particularly likely to do so, which makes perfect sense.

Not just Americans (and Canadians).

We always expect a large chunk of attendees to be based in the United States, and indeed our numbers so far tell us that more than half of ticket holders live there. More interesting? There are people from fifteen different countries attending!

  • 57.8% United States
  • 31.9% Canada (go team!)
  • 5% Great Britain
  • 3% Europe (8 countries in total)
  • 2% Australia and New Zealand
  • The rest are from Brazil, Israel, and Singapore

The conference does target North Americans, it’s true, but we know from past attendees based in the UK and Europe that it’s proven incredibly helpful for them, too.

Is the conference right for you?

We’re happy to help you decide if what we’re putting on will make sense for you. Just ask! Reach me (Jen) and Maren at Ready to register? Go ahead.

Day 2 preview: The Hiring Process, by Josh Magsam

I’m very excited to be a part of the Fourth Annual Beyond the Professoriate web conference! There were so many excellent panelists and discussions in 2016 – I can’t wait to join the conversation again this year!

During my four years here at, I’ve had a part in helping the company grow from about twelve people to just over fifty (and we’re still hiring!). All of this rapid growth has given me a great opportunity to learn the hiring process from the “other side of the table,” and the experience has been an eye-opener. I’ve seen a lot of truly exciting candidates walk in the door, settle in to a great interview, and then make a few common but often devastating mistakes – and when the other candidates are equally strong, these mistakes can make the difference between “yea or nay” in the final decision.

With that in mind, I wanted to highlight one frequent mistake I see far too often (and I made this mistake myself, as a job seeker).

That mistake is…

Interviewing for the job you THINK you want, not the one they are trying to fill.

Here’s a common scenario: a candidate comes in for an interview, and is hitting all the right notes. A relaxed but professional demeanor, striking a comfortable rhythm in conversation, asking smart questions, making eye contact with the interviewer – folks, we have a winner!

And then it happens – they say the words that every team manager or director dreads to hear: “I’m excited about Acme Coyote Supplies and the Parachute Tester position I’m interviewing for, but I really see myself growing into Cannon Engineer within 6 months or so.”

What the hiring manager hears is, “This position is my foot in the door, and as soon as I see an opening in another team or department, I’m going for it – I don’t have any interest in actually learning this position and growing within it.”

Or maybe – “I assume that you only want to hire people who want to move upwards quickly, and I’m trying to signal that clearly.”

Here’s the thing – we get it, you’re ambitious! And that came out in your resume, your letter, and your phone screen… it’s one of the reasons you made it to a final interview. But the kicker is – you don’t know exactly what this job will be like, or what you will learn along the way. Once you’ve started, you might find out that Parachute Testing is actually very exciting and interesting, with perks (Fresh air! Wilderness!) while the Cannon Engineer position is not as exciting after all (lots of mixing gunpowder and wearing itchy gloves).

And ultimately, speaking as a hiring manager – the advertized position is open because the company genuinely has a need for it. We don’t want to think about having to go through this search again in three or six or even nine months because we gambled on a candidate who might be happy with the position for just a little while, but will quickly learn that there’s a long ramp-up or a steep learning curve, and quit due to a lack of interest in mastering the position and its associated responsibilities.

So – what should you do to demonstrate that you really do want this job, AND you’re interested in growth, WHEN it’s appropriate?

It’s actually quite simple – here’s a quick list of tips to help you with your interview strategy.

  • Ask questions about the position itself. What’s the day-to-day look like? What are the biggest challenges that newcomers often face? What has typically been the biggest struggle for a new hire, and how have they overcome that? In other words – drive home the point that you really want to succeed in this position, and want as much information about it as possible.
  • Focus on the team and the manager (or teammates, if it’s a team interview) – what has made them successful at the company? What roles and responsibilities have they been able to gain as they’ve matured within the team / position? Again – there’s often a lot more going on behind any open position than the job listing describes, so this is your chance to get that information first-hand.
  • Ask about the company culture (and you should have done a bit of homework on this in advance, too!). What does the manager love about working with their team / what does the team love about working together? Do teams collaborate with each other (do engineers work with support teams, for example) or do the teams focus on their area without a lot of overlap? This shows you’re interested in the manager and future teammates, and that you’re interested in cross-team collaboration, while still remaining focused on the advertised position.The best approach? Remember that they if they called you in for the interview, they likely believe you can do the job and now they just want to get to know you. So focus on learning more about your future coworkers and what they need you to do!

Josh Magsam will present The Hiring Process on Saturday, 13 May, at 5:15pm EDT as part of the 4th annual Beyond the Professoriate conference! Register here.

Career Day Is Worth Your Time. Here’s Why.

What can you expect on Career Day?

On Saturday, 6 May — the first day of Beyond the Professoriate conference — we’re bringing together 16 PhDs to talk about their careers.

11:00am EDT Careers in Higher Education
12:30pm EDT Careers in Government
2:00pm EDT Careers in Nonprofits
3:30pm EDT Careers in Business/Industry

Our panelists will share their stories and provide advice for graduate students and PhDs navigating the job search process. They come from a wide range of backgrounds, from English to entomology, and political science to psychology. Check out all our speakers here.

–> Register for the Conference

Hear from PhDs working in nonfaculty roles.

If you’ve ever wondered where all those PhDs who don’t work as professors end up, now’s your chance to learn from a bunch of them all at once! All our panelists are keen to share their experiences, to help make your career journeys go as well as possible.

Ask questions before, during, and after each panel.

We’ll use webinar technology so you can comment and ask questions (anonymously if you like) during each panel. We’re also gearing up to launch a new online community, and everyone going to the conference is invited to join — for free! Great for longer conversations and networking before, during, and after.

Get inspired to step up your own networking.

Everyone says you have to do it, but it can be stress-inducing! Our panels are a great way to get a feel for networking, learn about different jobs and industries, and gain the confidence to build relationships with professionals in your own growing network.

Advice from PhDs who’ve been there, done that.

Good intentions are grand, but not everyone around you may be able to give good advice on how PhDs can go about landing jobs they want and build meaningful, rewarding careers beyond the professoriate. Our panelists know what it’s really like.

Any questions? Just ask.

You can register for the conference right here, or email us anytime by replying to this message or writing to Interested in purchasing tickets for your students, postdocs, or staff? We’d love to have you. Read more about group discounts on our blog.

How Your Students and Postdocs Can Attend Beyond the Professoriate Conference

Did you know that we offer discounted group rates for 10 or more tickets (purchased in one order)? Yep!

For less than the price of an individual early bird registration, institutions can arrange for their own students, postdocs, or staff to the conference. Full details can be found on this page. Group ticket sales end 13 May and prices remain the same throughout our sales period. (We know it can take a while to get organized to order in bulk.)

In the past we’ve had groups from the University of Calgary, McGill University, and McMaster University in Canada, and a number of US institutions, both public and private, including Duke University, Michigan State University, Rice University, Tufts University, UCLA, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Kansas, and University of Wisconsin. So far this year we’re thrilled to have a large group from the University of Texas at San Antonio joining us! We are also pleased to welcome Mitacs fellows once again.

Prefer to subsidize tickets for your students, that is, pay a portion of the registration fee? We can arrange that. Email us at

Let us know if you have any questions. Both Maren and I (Jen) are happy to discuss conference details, purchasing process, or potential sponsorships and collaboration. The full conference program is available as well as all the speaker bios.

Ready to purchase? Get the best deal on registrations for your students, postdocs, or staff via our Eventbrite page by selecting the number of tickets you want, either 10+ or 20+.


Who attended Beyond the Professoriate conference in 2016?

Did you know that we get a pretty diverse group of attendees each year, as judged by field?

In 2016, we asked participants to indicate their graduate field of study, broadly divided into STEM, humanities, social science, education, health, and other. Here’s how things stacked up:

39% STEM
26% humanities
18% social science
7% other
6% health
5% education

We make an effort to include a bunch of different disciplines in our group of speakers, so it’s nice to see a bunch of different types of academics showing up!

Registration Open for the 4th Annual Beyond the Professoriate

Woo! We’ve released the full program, all the speaker bios, have a poster, a press kit, and registration is now open. Early Bird tickets are on sale through 15 April via our Eventbrite page — only US $49 + processing fee.

Join us!

4th Annual Beyond the Professoriate
The Online Career Conference for PhDs
6 and 13 May 2017

Live streamed, with a 21-day on-demand video replay of all sessions

Early bird (ends 15 April) USD 49 + Eventbrite fee
Regular USD 59 + Eventbrite fee

Group discounts available for purchases of 10 of more tickets

Registration link:

Career Day
Saturday, 6 May 2017

11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. EDT:  Careers in Higher Education

Doreen Badheka, PhD Program Director for Special Projects, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Rutgers University – Newark

Emily Bell, PhD Manager, Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

Tania Munz, PhD Vice President for Research and Scholarship, Linda Hall Library

Beth Seltzer, PhD Educational Technology Specialist, Bryn Mawr College

12:30 – 1:50 p.m. EDT: Careers in Government

Mylynka Kilgore Cardona, PhD Map Curator, Texas General Land Office

Jessica Hartshorn, PhD Forest Health Specialist, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Chandra Moffat, PhD Research Scientist – Entomology, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dragos Popa, PhD Senior Analyst – Strategic Planning, Performance Measurement, and Corporate Reporting, Health Canada

2:00 – 3:20 p.m. EDT: Careers in Nonprofits

Lisa Bélanger, PhD Founder & Scientific Director, Knight’s Cabin Cancer Retreats

Trina Filan, PhD Community Impact Coordinator, United Way of Lewis & Clark

Michelle Seiler-Godfrey, PhD Grant Writer, High Desert Museum

Synatra Smith, PhD Education Coordinator, Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center

3:30 – 4:50 p.m. EDT: Careers in Industry or Business

Erin Arizzi, PhD Communications Specialist, SAS

Megan Brown, PhD Senior Talent Analytics Manager and Data Scientist, Amazon

Simon Landry, PhD Head of User Experience, TACTAI Inc

Darek Moreau, PhD Senior Aquatic Scientist, Stantec


Professional Development Day
Saturday, 13 May 2017

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET:  Leveraging Your PhD: Identifying Career Paths to Suit You and Your Goals

Catherine Maybrey, PhD Owner, CM Coaching Services

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. EDT: Stages of the Job Search Process

Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, PhD Data Engagement Specialist, Connecticut Data Collaborative

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. EDT: Your Resume & Cover Letter

Kristine Funch Lodge, PhD Career Coach and Founder, IncipitCareer; Recruiting Specialist, Alvord Taylor

2:45 – 3:45 p.m. EDT: Build Your Brand & Your Network

Jared Wesley, PhD Director of Learning and Development Policy, Alberta Public Service Commission

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. EDT: How to Articulate Your Transition Story in a Non-Academic Interview

Heidi Scott Giusto, PhD Owner and Operator, Career Path Writing Solutions

5:15 – 6:15 p.m. EDT: The Hiring Process

Josh Magsam, PhD Director of Community Success, Discogs

2017 web poster

Jen & Maren on Beyond the Professoriate

Jennifer Polk and Maren Wood talk about their journey to creating Beyond the Professoriate, an organization that provides professional development programming for PhDs, particularly individuals moving into nonfaculty careers. They discuss what they’ve learned over the years, what they most appreciate about their main annual event — an online career conference hosted entirely online, and respond to audience questions.

Learn more about Beyond the Professoriate at and check out the 2017 online conference at!

Jen and Maren in conversation about Beyond the Professoriate from Jennifer Polk on Vimeo.