My PhD research was applied mechanics. I used commercial finite element analysis software to simulate thermal spray process. My research did not involve developing any weak-form formulations or any new theoretical model. I just implemented existing models and the analysis was the novelty of my research. My publications are in applied journals like journal of thermal spray and technology.

Now the professor who's going to take my interview works in theoretical model and formulations development. His papers are in core mechanics journals. However, the advertised postdoc position description aligns with my research experience and I believe I can be successful there. But I cannot produce papers similar to the professor's profile.

How do I approach the interview in this case? Should I tell them that my research experience is applied and development of formulations is not my cup of tea?

  • 4
    +1: Three down votes, no comments, and the question seems reasonable: Shocking. Appalling treatment of a new member. Be ashamed.
    – user2768
    Jan 13, 2021 at 7:35
  • Summarising the first two paragraphs would make it easier for me (and perhaps others) to understand. I tried: My research focuses on applied mechanics (analysis using existing techniques) and I'm interviewing with a professor focusing on theoretical mechanics (developing new analysis techniques), who is advertising a position in applied mechanics. As it stands, I'm a little confused by the details. I'm also a little unclear about the position you're applying for: Is it a position in applied mechanics? If not, what aspect of your research experience is it aligned with?
    – user2768
    Jan 13, 2021 at 7:46
  • 3
    Perhaps the professor wants to branch out into a new, applied area, and needs someone with the skills to do so. You wouldn't have been offered an interview if they didn't think you were a good fit for the job. Jan 13, 2021 at 8:42
  • Why did you apply for the job?
    – user151413
    Jan 13, 2021 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


My background is in computational mechanics, so I have some background to answer your question. It seems to me that you and the professor would make a good research team because your research interests and experience are complementary. Do not assume that the professor wants you to work on weak forms and model formulation. S/he might want to go in a more applied direction as @astronot said. Instead of assuming that the professor wants to produce more papers like s/he has done in the past, ask in the interview what you'd be expected to do.

Second, it might also be useful for you to learn weak forms, just like it might be useful for someone with a mathematical background to learn applied stuff using commercial packages.


I don't know you field, but I would suggest talking about your research and what makes it exciting, talk about the professors research and why you think its interesting. Think about how your work and their work can be combined.

Look over the job description and see if there are 'keywords' for skills/experience/knowledge for what they are looking for, and if so, make sure you can sell yourself for each of them.

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