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In its recent search for a new faculty member, Washington University in St. Louis was looking for a young, energetic researcher interested in studying basic disease mechanisms using genomic approaches, Jeff Milbrandt, a professor there, tells Nature Jobs.

"The position was designed for someone to develop their laboratory, to obtain external grant funding, attract students and postdocs to the lab to help with the exciting work described by the candidates," he adds.

Candidates, he says, had to give chalk talks, sit through one-on-one talks with department members, and have lunch and dinner with faculty members, grad students, and postdocs.

The overall experience of applying for a job is grueling, recalls Samantha Morris in a related Nature Jobs blog post. Morris is the new faculty member at WUSTL. She applied for 33 positions and interviewed at 15 of them.

"In general, the institutions are excited to have you there," she says. "But there are also a small percentage of people that are not excited about your research or your plan."

When she went to WUSTL, she says there was a "click" and that she could imagine collaborating with a range of faculty members there. While she says she collected data on each of the institutes, this gut instinct also helped her decide.

Milbrandt, in that first post, says that Morris filled the criteria they had and that she had a lot of great ideas. "She laid out a very good research plan, one that is accomplishable," he says. "Not that there won't be problems, but there will be gold at the end of the rainbow."

And now Morris is working to get her lab up and going. "For the first few years they try not to burden young faculty too much with additional jobs, just so that we can get up and running, start generating data, get people in the lab and funding coming in," she tells Nature Jobs. "It's my feeling that in the first two to three years it should come together."