I've always wondered if PIs look for a perfect fit for their projects. For instance, a post doc vacancy is advertised as follows:
- Must have completed PhD with 3 peer reviewed journal articles.
- Must have x,y and z skills.
- Must have had some exposure to a,b and c skills.
Now what if the applicant has only 1 journal article and is working on a 2nd manuscript. Has x and z skills and has had exposure to a and b skills but not c but some other skills that might be useful?
So would this applicant want to apply for said post doc? If so does how does the hiring dynamic work? Would this dynamic be the same whether it is an engineering/science post doc or otherwise? Would the applicant be overlooked because he/she isn't a 100% fit?
I realize that each situation would need to be judged differently but there has got to be a general thumb rule.
Usually, I hire two types of postdocs.
The first one is the "zero expectation" postdoc, this is the postdoc that I hire when I already have the manpower to complete the project, and when the project is clearly on the good tracks. For this one, I just look at the research work he has done (I don't care about numbers/publications, only about the quality of the work) and make sure that he will be able to work alone (mmm, this means that I look for someone that should already be a faculty member somewhere, but which is not for various reasons).
But what is interesting you I guess is the second type. In any project the most important thing is to make sure that we will be able to complete it in time. If I hire a postdoc for that purpose and if the postdoc don't do the job, I will have to do it myself, I don't want this to happen. So, the only thing that interests me is the ability to complete the goals of the project. Publications? except if the goal of the project is to produce papers I don't care. Skills? this is what I am looking for, and more precisly I am looking for confirmed skills, not exposure (too risky).