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After an agonising wait, I am finally offered an interview to a prospective postdoc position. I possess all the required skills and match the selection criteria for the post, so I will be fine with addressing my suitability for the position.

I am just wondering how I should properly answer my future career plans. To be honest, the actual answer in my mind is "I don't know. Let's take this job and see." My plan is to do a postdoc and see whether I am interested in academia. If so, I will go on. If not, I will move on to something else like industry etc. When I went to a career seminar, all speakers did a postdoc before moving on non-academic careers. My advisors also think that it would be beneficial for me to publish a few more papers, even if I decide not to pursue a career in academia. I have asked my friends and family. They say I should somehow "lie" that I am interested in a career of academia, as I can argue that I change my mind later on. If I tell them that I may leave after my postdoc, they may not invest that many resources in me, or they may refuse me altogether. However, I don't wish to sound too firm like "I am definitely into academia", as it sounds like an obvious lie. 

#You may wonder why I don't ask any of my advisors. That position is held by one of my advisors and his long-term research partner. My other advisors have conflict with him and do not want me to work for him. I am hiding it from them until I get the job. 

How should I give an impressive response? Any advice is appreciated. 

Many thanks. 

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Since the position is with one of your advisors - you can use the knowledge of his past behavior to decide how forthcoming you should be.  How has he treated students who have graduated and went on to pursue careers in industry?  If it is neutral/positive, I think you can be more forthcoming about using the postdoc to figure out your ultimate direction, but emphasize that you are really excited about the position because of X, Y, and Z.  If it is negative/unknown, you might want to be less forthcoming about your uncertainty, mention that you are interested in academia (which is true!), but don't try to quantify how interested, and focus on the positives of the job opportunity.

Personally - one of the best things about doing a postdoc is being able to have that time and space to ensure that I do want to pursue an academic career.  I was honest about being uncertain in my interviews - but I said that I was leaning towards pursuing an academic career which is still true. However, I am in a field where a good proportion of graduates pursue non-academic positions so I don't think it's too surprising to faculty when students mention this.

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Thank you for your response, @ZeChocMoose. I know that advisor is an open person. He will be equally happy that I go on with academia vs industry (or other options) after postdoc. In fact, he has only been granted a 2-year funding, which means he can only hire me till then, unless he gets more funding in the coming 2 years. I am actually like you that I want that time and space to ensure that I want to go on with academia. I was actually upfront with him about that when I first expressed interest in working on his project for postdoc. He took that very well. Now, the interview is conducted with his research partner, which happens to be the department head, so I'd better be more cautious. 

I will tell them that my short-term goal is to do a postdoc, so I can learn more research skills. [Elaborate on what I want to learn from this lab] Hopefully, these will lead to more publications, which prepare me for the next stage of career. I have considered going on with academia, but I am open to other options as well. 

I think I still answer the question and bring out the uncertainty, without sounding like I totally don't know what to do. 


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