Ha ha, I remember it well. I had been told a few weeks before that my rolling contract with Liverpool Health Partners (LHP) was going to end in March 2018, along with everyone else in a similar role. So I was put on the redeployment list (as LHP came under UoL at that time).
I saw the job come up and thought it sounded pretty amazing, although there wasn’t a huge window to apply. I assumed loads of postdocs would go for it, so I wasn’t really expecting to hear anything back. Since finding out about my role ending, I had stepped up my teaching: volunteering in Lab practicals, helping monitor a Physiology MOOC [Massive Open Online Course] and doing a lecture on immunohistochemistry.
I had completed the Teaching for Researchers course [now the Foundations in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (FLTHE)] so I was an Associate Fellow of the HEA, which was an essential requirement for the job, so all of those lunchtimes of studying were worth it. This meant my CV was as bolstered as it could be for a teaching role within the restrictions of my postdoc.
I remember submitting my application on a Saturday in late November and I received an email the following Wednesday inviting me to interview, with a presentation on how I would teach an essay workshop, for the following Monday at 9am – so less than a week to prepare.
Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a huge amount of time on its own, but when you combined it with the events of that week, I literally don’t know how I got the job. The Wednesday I was emailed, my boyfriend came back from India, and I also had to prepare for a lecture the following morning so I couldn’t start preparing for the interview.
I gave the lecture and when I came out, I discovered that my boyfriend had decided to get a tropical disease, so we spent most of Thursday afternoon in the Royal Hospital (I took my laptop). I basically worked on my presentation whilst my boyfriend was lying on a bed becoming increasingly incoherent, at one point only communicating to me in his native tongue, Polish.
I went home to shower and bring him some items from home, so a pretty late night. Did I mention that one of my best friends was getting married in Crewe that weekend and that I was a bridesmaid? I was supposed to drive myself and the other bridesmaids to Crewe on Friday evening, so again not much chance of preparing! My boyfriend was a lot better on the Friday and I spoke to his doctor who said she would be sending him home later that day or Saturday at the latest.
So I went to the wedding, and wasn’t home until 11pm on the Saturday. I got up early on the Sunday and basically had a solid day of preparing and finishing the presentation. In a way, I wondered if it helped because it made me prioritise the important bits, and I just told myself that if I didn’t get the job, I’d done the best I could under the circumstances.
I turned up at the Library for my interview and suddenly felt quite nervous. I was used to presenting, and didn’t normally get nervous, but I think job interviews are always different. Then one of the lovely Liaison Librarians gave me a tour and I was put at ease. By the time I went into the interview I felt quite calm and collected and presented my slides.
I think it’s good if you can present slides because you have the opportunity to show your best self by making sure you know the content and feel really comfortable presenting it. You can also include key prompts so you don’t forget to mention them (in my case key learning theories and University policy).
One big difference I noticed from postdoc interviews, is they asked really great questions designed to get the best out of me, not testing me on whether I’d memorised something, and I felt the interview went quite well, only a couple of questions I could have done better on.
A few hours later, I received a call to tell me I had got the job and I was amazed and delighted! She said she really liked that I came from a STEM background, and although I wasn’t what she had envisioned in a candidate, she could see the benefits. Oh, I was also trying to buy a house at this time, so not having a job would have been really bad, so I also felt relief.
“One big difference I noticed from postdoc interviews, is they asked really great questions designed to get the best out of me, not testing me on whether I’d memorised something”.