Postdoctoral training is a transitional period in your career, and you need to find the best fit. Ask questions now and evaluate the answers carefully to save time and energy later. When you interview for a position, you are also interviewing the faculty mentor, other colleagues and the university. Know what you need to be successful, and start from there. It’s better to choose wisely now, than to try to get out of a bad situation later.

A few questions to consider:

What do you need to succeed?

  • What type of environment is best for you?
  • Do you prefer large or small groups?
  • What kind of management style are you looking for in a faculty mentor?
  • What are your goals short and long term career plans?
  • Will working with a specific group or mentor help you achieve these goals?
  • Do you have a partner who needs to find a position?
  • Do you have geographical constraints?

What kind of faculty mentor do you want?

Research prospective mentors before applying, during and after the interview.

  • Where have former postdocs gone after training?
  • What is their reputation concerning postdocs?
  • Is this type of research a good fit?
  • Will you have the opportunity to develop independence?
  • Will you learn the skills and techniques you need to succeed in your field?
  • How well respected are they?
  • What do current & former mentees say about their experience?
  • Will you need to apply for funding?

Resources

National Postdoctoral Association Resources

Finding the “Perfect Postdoc” for You by Carol Manahan

“Questions to Ask When Considering Postdoc Positions” by Nicholas Schade, PhD

Words of Advice: choosing the right lab for your post-doctoral fellowship

The Georgetown Mentor Alignment Assessment