On this day at work, we had to attend a mandatory lecture for one of two candidates who applied for the new research leader position. We watched his seminar which also included images of these cute beetles on the presentation. After that, everyone in our unit met with him for questions and answers. Most of the questions were intelligent questions like, “What is your vision for our unit?”. Honestly, that’s all I can remember now that the event has passed over a month ago. Besides, the other questions used too many big, fancy, academic words, and I’m just a minion, so it’s not in my pay grade to remember such details.
Then, I finally got the nerve to ask one of the two really big questions I wanted to ask, and it’s always in my nature to preface it with a self-deprecating tone. I’m not sure if it’s to disarm the other person so they feel less threatened or if it’s really because that’s how I see myself (or both or none of the above). Anyway, what I said was, “This is probably a dumb question, but why do you want to be a research leader?” The answer was surprising and quite insightful actually. To my surprise, my coworkers appreciated my question.
The other question I wished I had asked, (but didn’t because I was too intimidated by the other intelligent questions some of the post docs and research scientists were asking) was, “What is in it for me? What are you going to do for me?” That’s really the truth. Both of the candidates are already vetted and deemed qualified and appropriate. So asking them to verify they’re qualified seems redundant. I know that question is really selfish, but I was bored with the other questions. I want real questions, not the ones that are politically correct, or the ones that sound like graduate students in a seminar that talk a lot without a lot of substance. Plus, I know this is in the hearts and minds of all my fellow technicians. Basically it’s this: “If you become research leader, can I keep my job after my temporary appointment is up? Because if you do that… I’ll totally vote for you!” (except there’s no voting really. But everyone gets to turn in an evaluation of each candidate). My lack of confidence got the best of me, and I stayed silent. Ah, silence is not always golden.
I think the candidate resembles most the figure on the left hand side in the third image.