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Scope Creep

What’s really going on in an interviewer’s head?

When you’re being asked a question during an interview, you’re usually not actually answering that exact question being asked.  You’re actually answering the subtext of the question – the question behind the question – and your answer is being compared with the internal concerns of the interviewer.

That’s why if you answer on the surface, you’re likely to get filtered out, because you’re not actually answering the question.

This is one of the main reasons scientists struggle when flexing into a different kind of position, especially one that requires context switching and high EQ (see the Nerd Onion section in the Ultimate Career Transformation program).

It’s like the stereotype of a person asking their spouse – “Hey, do you know what day it is today?”

The wrong answer is the naive, “Uh, it’s Wednesday, isn’t it?”

The right answer is first thinking, “Why are they asking me what day it is when they could just look at their phone?  Is there a holiday or special occasion that I forgot about…?”  Because presumably, you care about the person asking the question, you want to give the most complete answer.  This is the same for interviews.

Do you know the subtext of common interview questions for your dream job?

“You solve many of the same problems inside and outside academia.  The key is to communicate this appropriately, in a relatable context for your audience.”


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