Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
Interviews for Top Jobs at Institute for Defense Analyses
- Research Staff Member (5)
- Intern (2)
- Research Assistant (2)
- Research Associate (2)
- Multimedia and Conference Support Coordinator (2)
- Ra (1)
- Research Assistant II (1)
- Summer Associate (1)
- Economist (1)
- Publications Coordinator (1)
- Security Guard (1)
Research Staff Member Interview
I applied online. The process took 2+ months. I interviewed at Institute for Defense Analyses (Alexandria, VA) in February 2015.
I applied online to a variety of Research Staff Member positions at IDA over several months. Some seemed like better fits than others based on the job description, but I figured that there was no harm in applying. I then got an e-mail about setting up a phone interview for a position for which I had applied roughly a month before. The phone interview lasted a little over an hour, and was very interesting and enjoyable. The interviewer was incredibly friendly and it was clear that he really enjoyed his job. He described in broad strokes the kind of work this particular division performed, and how it fit into the larger Pentagon structure. He then asked me about my work and interests. I got an e-mail about three weeks later inviting me for an on-site interview. It would be an all-day interview, and I would have to give a ~40 minute presentations (total 1 hour with questions) on my research. The e-mail was very detailed about what I could expect, and also had very helpful instructions on what they were looking for in a presentation. This was encouraging, as it was clear they were not trying to trick me, and wanted to see me at my best. They flew me out and put me up in a very nice hotel just a few minutes’ walk from the building. After arriving I met with an HR representative, then two research staff members one after the other, and then gave my talk. Next came lunch at a nearby restaurant with a few of the people who had seen my talk, then I met with a panel of four people, then another one on one interview, and then finally an interview with the division director. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming - it’s hard to overemphasize this. I was very impressed with not only how nice they were to me, but how well they got along with each other, most notably during my talk, at lunch, and in the panel interview. These interactions with larger groups were very illuminating about what I could expect if I accepted a job there. The individual interviews were also instructive, and I learned a lot about the kind of work I would be expected to do, which sounded both interesting and challenging. It was easy to see that everyone enjoyed their work. The presentation was actually quite enjoyable. The atmosphere was casual, and people asked questions during the talk as well as at the end. I was impressed with the caliber of the questions. I was given the impression that the presentation was a very important part of the interview, and that it went a long way toward getting me a job offer. I was never asked any hostile or openly adversarial questions in the interviews or in my presentation. Nearly everyone mentioned the strength of the work/life balance at IDA, which various acquaintances of mine there have confirmed. The benefits and salary are competitive. Many of the people I met with had worked there for 10 or 20 years, some even longer. They made it clear that IDA is a very flat organization, and that if I wanted rapid promotion and managerial roles I should look elsewhere. Overall, it was an exhausting day, but I was able to form a very strong and positive impression of the place.
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Other Interview Reviews for Institute for Defense Analyses
Research Staff Member InterviewAccepted OfferPositive ExperienceEasy Interview
The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Institute for Defense Analyses (Alexandria, VA) in May 2012.
The style of this interview followed those for faculty job interviews at research universities. A week after I applied I got an invitation for a full-day interview at the HQs in Alexandria. Everybody there was nice. The interview consisted of about 8 half-hour interviews with other research staff members, a one-hour presentation on my research work, and a lunch. All the interviewees were friendly and just wanted to learn about my research work, no hard questions or anything like that. The presentation atmosphere was a lot like colloquium style at universities.
Salary offered was generous.
Research Staff Member InterviewDeclined OfferNeutral ExperienceAverage Interview
I applied through college or university. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Institute for Defense Analyses (Alexandria, VA) in February 2008.
I started with 30 minute on-campus interview following application through the university's career center. This interview was pretty standard and unremarkable. The site interview followed a few weeks later. The day started with a meeting with an HR/recruiting staff member, and covered general background (mine and theirs) and benefits. The rest of the day was 6-7 short (about 30 minutes) one-on-one interviews with members of the research staff, a long lunch interview with the head of one of the divisions, and a seminar presenting some of my research to members of that division. The short interviews were so brief that I question their utility both to IDA and to myself, as little time was available for getting beyond the standard initial questions. The staff were generally friendly and seemed like they would be good coworkers. However, the work they were doing in that division did not particularly interest me. Though I specified divisions of interest when I applied, I did not interview with any of those; I'm not sure how the process of circulating applications works, but this is the potential result. The administrative details of my visit (including reimbursement) were carried out quickly and without fuss. The offer came through about 2-3 weeks later.
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Reasons for Declining
Offer from a peer company in a research area that interested me more.
Research Staff Member InterviewNo OfferNeutral ExperienceAverage Interview
I applied through an employee referral. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Institute for Defense Analyses in August 2010.
Interview process was an all-day affair, meeting with various members of the staff prior to meeting with the division director for the final phase discussion. The interviews ranged from the initial staff members who were involved directly in the area of the organization that I would be working with and that I had prior working relationships with due to other projects with my previous employer. The interviews then shifted to a number of staff members who were involved in other areas of research, but were examples of the various specialties doing work within the directorate. Each had a different avenue of questioning to see what my background was, what kind of work I was looking for and to provide details on what it was like to work for the organization from their perspective. Mid-day of the interview process was taken up by a presentation session where the applicant was to demonstrate briefing skills and analysis of a subject (chosen by the applicant with help from the sponsor.) Briefing was question and answer formatted around a slide presentation of the topic. Duration was about one hour. Final interview was with the division director and covered the aspects of working for the organization from a personal goals point of view. Interview was steered toward getting the point across that the organization was a fairly flat hierarchy of management, and based mainly on an academic atmosphere of operations. Candidates looking for upward mobility and advancement within the organization would be advised to look for another organization due to the strong possibility that working at IDA may not satisfy those desires and the hired person would eventually leave the organization for another more fitting to their career goals.
Research Staff Member InterviewAccepted OfferPositive ExperienceAverage Interview
I applied through other source. The process took 2 days. I interviewed at Institute for Defense Analyses in June 2010.
The preliminary phone interview of 30 minutes went well and proceeded like a casual but informed conversation regarding the intersection between academic research, policy, and data needs. An invitation for an on-site interview soon followed and consisted of a meeting with an HR representative, 7 one-on-one interviews with other RSMs lasting approximately 30 minutes, a presentation of my work, a working lunch with two managers and two staff members, and a final meeting with the division manager. Contrary to another related posting on the website, I found most of these interviews to be extremely informative and helpful in prompting me to accept the offer I eventually received. Some of this difference may be due to personality. Throughout the course of the day I developed a brief, scripted response to the initial questions we had to work through then worked hard to open up the interaction into one where they could express to me whatever they wanted about IDA (why they chose the job, what they think of the work they do, what their expectations of me would be, and so forth), while I described for them my general approach to research in a policy environment. Many of these conversations exceeded the allotted 30 minutes, which many were fine with. The presentation had the format of a job-talk but was considerably less hostile than what I have encountered in academic settings (primarily as an audience member). Not to say it was not easy, but it was important to me that there was no one present clearly gunning for my embarrassment and failure. The questions were professional and appropriately probing. In all, the experience was draining but enjoyable. I can say that with no reservations. In a final note, the another posting on this site describing the IDA interview complained about not being evaluated for the division he or she listed in the online application. This incongruence should have been apparent in the phone interview, so I advise future recruits to take this interview seriously by listening to what the interviewer has to say about the position under consideration.
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