/ Working at Open Targets

Job seeking during the pandemic: a Q&A with Kostas Tsirigos

Konstantinos Tsirigos is a project manager at Open Targets, and keeps the Platform team on track. He previously worked on a variety of projects including developing machine learning methods for protein sequence analysis, and is an experienced bioinformatician and data manager.

He started in November 2020, and was interviewed, hired, and on-boarded fully remotely from Denmark. We chatted to him to find out more about his experience.

What is your current role within Open Targets?

I am a Project Manager in the Open Targets Platform. In this role, I try to ensure that the Platform operations run smoothly and that any obstacles that arise — especially during this challenging period — are dealt with.

We have all been working remotely since April 2020, and this can make coordinating tasks and delegating responsibilities and deadlines a challenge.

What was the recruitment process like? How did you prepare?

I had an one-on-one interview with my team lead, a panel interview with my line managers, and an interview to meet the rest of the team. My preparation for the interviews was no different than it would have been in a live setup. Educating myself about Open Targets was the primary focus, of course. And, perhaps, creating a nice background for the interviews — fortunately I was able to find a nice spot in my apartment.

I don't think I would have felt very differently had the interview been 'live'. The people I spoke to were very open and friendly and I could get the answers to any questions I had regarding the role. The meet-and-greet with the team would definitely have been nicer in person though! Socialising is always easier when you are in the same room.

You weren't able to vist the campus or meet your potential colleagues in person — so what made you decide to take the job?

I would argue it was two things. First of all: the job description. This is a role that I have been wanting to try for some time now, so it felt almost like destiny to read the description of a job that was exactly as I had imagined it.

Second, and perhaps more importantly: the people. Even though the interviews were held remotely, I somehow instantly got positive 'vibes' from each and every person that I spoke to. When I was offered the job, I had no second thoughts.

What did you learn from the process?

Interviewing through a computer monitor can be daunting. I would advise candidates who are being interviewed virutally to try to relax even if some unexpected minor technical problem occurs; this situation is special for everyone.

I would also suggest finding out how the team operates in the remote setup. It is important to see what you can expect and if this is something that will work for you. I don’t think remote working suits everyone.

Image of Kostas riding a bike in Copenhagen's famous Nyhavn area. The caption reads: Since being onboarded remotely, Kostas has been making the most of Copenhagen as he prepares for his move to the UK.

What was your first week like?

In a nutshell: a roller coaster of virtual meetings! It almost felt as if I were the CEO of a big company, jumping from one call to another. Did it help? Absolutely! The onboarding procedure was much smoother than I expected. Everyone in the team was welcoming and helped with with job-related (and other) questions I had.

What has been challenging?

Luckily, remote working has not been an issue for me. It feels strange at times that after four months, I still haven't physically met the people I talk to every day. But working from home is something that I generally enjoy and I can be productive in this setup. My biggest challenge was the learning curve: this is my first job as a project manager, so I have lots of new things to learn.

What advice do you have for people applying for jobs remotely?

Just go for it! If it weren't for the pandemic, I most likely would not have applied for the role. When I started, moving to the UK would have been impossible because my wife had another year on her contract here in Copenhagen. I would argue that the opportunity for remote working is perhaps one of the very few positive sides of this pandemic. And it's also an advantage for the employer, who can bring together skilful people from all over the world, without the need for them to move. A win-win!

Do you have more questions for Kostas? You can reach him at tsirigos@ebi.ac.uk.

Interested in joining the team? Keep an eye on our social media and on our jobs page for new opportunities!

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