I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago with a job interview for an academic institute concerned with health studies in Switzerland. After being told how wonderfully keen they were to interview me in person after what seemed like a very positive phone interview from Australia I agreed to visit, and the usual interview day was planned: interview with the Head of Department (HD), interview with a Senior Statistician (SS), followed by a talk on my work to the whole group. However, when I arrived I quickly had the impression that the mood had changed … during my interview with HD the only questions I was asked were managerial in nature: “how would I handle the responsibilities of deadlines?”, “how would I deal with the challenges of multitasking?”, “how would I supervise junior colleagues?”, but essentially *nothing* on statistics or science. The interview with SS was then even stranger: the guy spent our first fifteen minutes complaining to me about how much work and pressure he was under because no-one else in the team had any sense of responsibility—a flaw he attributed to their not having grown up during a time of economic depression. Again, no particular questions about statistics. Then I gave a talk on my ABC modelling for inference of chlamydia incidence and could see from the blank stares I received that I’d ventured way outside their comfort zone, mathematically (despite deliberately pitching it lower than the level at which I discuss this work with amongst healthcare colleagues at home). Awkward. After lunch the HD told me what the conditions of the salary would be and mentioned that he thought getting me the necessary visa would be no trouble. Finally, he offered to pay for my hotel bill and said that he’d discuss my interview with his colleagues and give me a final decision within the next week or so.
Flying back home the next day I got a short email to notify me of my rejection. Yesterday I finally got $160 AUD back for one night of my hotel bill (not the three nights I was there). Ouch!
In comparison, a British institute that I’ll be interviewing with soon has already arranged up front to pay three nights of hotel plus my airfare from/to Italy (where I’m attending conferences this Euro summer); which seems very reasonable in exchange for my effort in preparing a talk and familiarising myself with their recent work so as to interview well for the position.
Anyway, I don’t usually like to kiss-and-tell about such things, but when you get herpes from the kissing I think one has a right to grumble about it (without naming names, of course)!