CNRS Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
Assistant Engineer Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 1 week - interviewed at CNRS in January 2010.
Interview Details – I had a an interview on site where I had to present who I was and what I had done with a powerpoint. I then had to answer a few more technical questions.
Interview Question – What do you know about superconductors? (didn't know anything at that time) Answer Question
Research Intern Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took a day - interviewed at CNRS.
Interview Details – Initial contact taken by email with the researcher I was interested to work with; he was very friendly, and I got the position immediately. No tricky questions, we only discussed our respective research interests and my future ambitions.
Postdoctoral CNRS Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at CNRS in June 2009.
Interview Details – I applied to an online posting for the position. I had three phone interviews with the principal investigator of the laboratory I would be joining. We discussed previous work experience, future goals, the direction of research, and expectations for a person that would fill the position. I was offered the job over the phone, and an official offer arrived by post within the next few weeks.
Interview Question – Could you please justify the projects which did not result in publication? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – I was told that since this was a CNRS position, there was no room for negotiation.
Postdoctoral Researcher At CEMES - CNRS Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at CNRS in October 2011.
Interview Details – The initial communications were done professionally, by the recruiting professor, by email and then by telephone. I was invited for an on-site interview and an administrator contacted me to make some arrangements. She mentioned she would be booking my accomodation because in this lab things are done through a contractor. Fair enough. I got on the plane. Within five minutes of landing, I get an SMS from her (not a missed message but a real-time one) with instructions on how to get to the metro, as if she was following my flight. Creepy. Once at the metro, I get another SMS, that she forgot to book my room in the lab's studios and now it's too late because it's after 5pm, and that she would be putting me up at her house. I was livid and texted back that I need to stay at a hotel. Once at the lab proper, I insisted she book me a hotel room and she came up with tonnes of stupid excuses to not do it. I made her do it though. In order to appear calm I said "I need to work on my presentation in peace" and she had the gall to reply that my presentation wasn't important! Then the prof comes in and asks her "What's the matter, she doesn't want to stay with you?". I was desperate for a job though so I stupidly took it after this nightmare interview. It was an accurate representation of how it was to work there however.
For the actual on-site interview, I gave a talk about my research and met several people for in-depth discussions. That part was professional. Except for setting up to give my talk: the secretary opened the lid of my laptop (!), and was in the audience when I gave my talk - highly-disturbing.
Interview Question – Probing questions about my varied background. Surprising to most Europeans who tend to do the same thing starting from undergrad. View Answer
Negotiation Details – I took the job despite a very negative impression from the interview, because I had nothing else.
I also had a feeling that they approached some old classmate of mine and got him to ask to be my friend on facebook (I denied the request) - and to strike up a conversation with me to find out about me - something related to him was mentioned at the interview as well, which reinforces my suspicion. This reinforces my feeling that these employers are paranoid.
The offer letter from the professor claimed that I would be responsible only to him. Big lie. I thought that I'd be able to repel the secretary once I started working but I was mistaken. Do not believe what they promise you in their offer.
Postdoctoral CNRS Interview (Positive Experience)
I applied in-person - interviewed at CNRS in April 2009.
Interview Details – You need to file a relevant publication list, a set of credential letters and be able
to publicly present your previous research work.
Interview Question – You are being asked for your research result and orientations. If the position you are
trying to get is concerned by different issues than those of your former field, your interviewer might try to check how fast you can make this new field of research yours. Answer Question
Research Engineer Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at CNRS in January 2012.
Interview Details – I apply on the Internet and had a phone contact with the head of the laboratory who was looking for a research engineer. I first had a phone interview: he presented me the laboratory ad the research and asked me some questions. I had later 2 interviews face to face, the first one to meet me and check my referees and the second time to visit the lab and meet the team
Interview Question – What would be your strategy on that project? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – It is not possible to negotiate, the CNRS is a public facility
Very Easy Interview
Researcher Interview (Neutral Experience; Very Easy Interview)
I applied in-person and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at CNRS in March 2010.
Interview Details – I presented my previous work with the help of power-point in front of two senior scientists. We discussed about science and new projects. Then, they said ok.
Interview Question – Only questions about science Answer Question