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The inside story: how to get a job at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Ever wondered what hiring managers are looking for when they recruit for Australia’s most sought-after NFPs?

In this series we interview the people who hire at the organisations where you want to work – and we’ll give you the inside knowledge you need to make your next job application amazing.

This month we speak to Caroline Embrey, Talent Acquisition Strategy Manager at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – the largest child health research institute in Australia and one of the top three worldwide.

Their team of more than 1200 talented researchers is dedicated to making discoveries to prevent and treat childhood conditions.


Hi Caroline – thanks for chatting with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about what the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute does?

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) is a world-leading research institute dedicated to making discoveries to improve child health. Children experience disease differently to adults, so the treatment and care provided needs to be tailored to their needs and development. Our dedicated team are passionate about filling the gaps in what we know about healing sick kids to create a healthier and brighter future for the generations of tomorrow.

Working at MCRI gives you an opportunity to do something every single day that gives back to families, the community and children all over the world. It drives a real sense of purpose to be a part of such an amazing organisation. As a researcher, the pull comes from our innovation and dedication to outcomes in child health.

And what are some of the benefits of working at the MCRI?

The benefits for our people are great! Employees have access to salary packaging. There is an onsite gym, parking (at a reduced cost) and two childcare centres. We offer weekly mindfulness sessions and yoga classes, table-tennis challenges, a running club, a choir and there are a number of committees and networks for people to join and get involved in.

MCRI has a real focus on Learning and Development, we offer Leadership workshops, a mentor program, executive coaching as well as individual and team development to suit people’s needs. There are daily seminars offering something for everyone, whether you are a Post-doctoral Researcher, Research Assistant, visiting PhD scientist, or someone from Human Resources or other Operational functions.

Can you walk us through the recruitment process at the MCRI?

Our application process will depend on the role and the group you are applying to join. The standard process is to apply with a resume, cover letter, and answers to the key selection criteria. For some roles, the hiring manager will call applicants to have an informal conversation and share with them more insights about the role and the opportunity. Others will go straight to face to face interview, followed by a second interview where candidates may have an opportunity to meet the team.

Once you have been offered a role, agreed salary and start date, you will commence our background check process, contracts, and then finally onboarding.

What are the top things you look for when assessing a candidate application?

Addressing the key selection criteria; it is essential to ensure you address the criteria clearly and in its entirety so that hiring managers can determine the suitability of your experience to the requirements of the role. Also do remember to highlight your motivation for applying for the role and why that organisation. Ensure you clearly include any relevant qualifications in your resume; highlighting in your key selection criteria if applicable.

When providing your resume ensure you have updated and articulated your relevant skills, experience, and qualifications. Hiring managers may be reviewing a high volume of applications so we encourage you to present your information clearly and succinctly.

What’s the most common mistake you see candidates make?

Often candidates make simple errors in submitting their document online such as not updating their contact details, which is crucial, or submitting a cover letter or resume from a completely different job application.

And if they make it to interview, who is a candidate most likely to meet on an interview panel at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute?

The hiring manager, one of their peers and potentially someone from our Human Resources team.

Candidates may also get an opportunity to meet the incumbent leaving the role as they will be able to provide insight into the challenges as well as the opportunities.

What advice would you give candidates to improve their interview skills?

Practice makes perfect!

Spend time with a trusted colleague or friend and do a mock interview so you can practice your own introduction as well as answers to questions that may come up.

Spend time on Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter to do your research and learn about MCRI so you know who we are, what we do, and who you are meeting with.

We strongly encourage applicants to think about behavioural based questions, to review the position description, know their resume inside out, and be able to clearly articulate what motivates them and what they can contribute to MCRI.

Be positive at your interview; we are interested in what you have learnt and how you have grown in your previous role and what experiences you can share with us.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute but perhaps doesn’t have the right qualifications or experience?

Now this of course will depend on the role. Some opportunities come with stringent requirements for good reason. However, some roles may offer a degree of flexibility in terms of required qualifications. We are a research institute so we encourage research, review and outreach.

Ask yourself, do you know anybody here who can refer you for a role? Do you follow or know anyone on social media who works at MCRI that you could reach out to?

Get to know Group Leaders and Theme Directors. Know who heads up the research or the team you want to join and think strategically about how you could reach out and connect to understand what opportunities might exist.

Thanks Caroline!

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