99. Attracting and hiring top talent - with Nick Birbilis.

career change career planning covid series immigration & ex-pats job interview new world of work Sep 13, 2021
The Job Hunting Podcast Episode 99

Hiring top talent during a pandemic is a massive challenge for employers like Nick Birbilis. Nick's ambitious projects require his organization to attract and employ the very best professionals. With all of the challenges we face today, how does Nick attract top international experts to work for him when borders are closed? Can these jobs be done remotely?  Below are a few nuggets from the interview.

The pandemic has shown a torch on a few things that needed correction.

What I learned from my conversation with Nick is that when we're faced with a big problem, we find solutions:

  • Finding home-grown talent and investing in them: As Nick said in the interview, "If you're limited in the geography of who you can look for, you open up your mind to different narratives, different backgrounds, different trajectories to broader experiences, which fit the value sets." 
  • Make remote work possible: this advice applies to both employers and employees. Nick says: "if you have challenges with moving and relocating, or want to work remotely, I encourage everyone to put that out there and ask that question because in my experience since the pandemic started, anyone that we've thought of suitable for the role and has wanted to work flexibly we've always made it possible. So it's an option now, and it's one that I encourage everyone to ask the question."

Zoom and Digital Wormholes.

Hiring and working remotely requires the adoption of technology and new engagement strategies:

  • Be ready to pick up on even the minimal cues when working online with others: You need to pick up what others are doing, since what they're thinking, and adapt and adjust along the way. "Like anything, it takes practice; it's like riding a bike," says Nick.
  • Recognize that a lot about how we will work in the future is still unknown: Not a single individual will decide the future of work. The more voices we have in predicting and creating the end, the better.

Let employers know what you want to do next.

This is the best piece of advice from Nick about how to job interview with purpose: "There's been a long tradition of people at job interviews telling you a lot about what they've done in the past, trying to build confidence in the future based on what they've done in the past. Now, it's worth mentioning what you've done in the past, whether it's specific to the role or not, because it brings trust to the table. But really, if there's one bit of advice that I could give anyone is to be open about what they want to do in the future."

There's so much more exciting chat and advice from Nick Birbilis in this episode. I hope you listen and enjoy the great conversation with a leader who cares deeply about his team and understands the most crucial asset in an organization is its people. 

Podcast Episode Timestamps:

  • 13:42 - Nick's career
  • 16:59 - Finding great talent
  • 21:03 - Border closures and opportunities for remote work
  • 31:54 - Virtual job interviews
  • 34:47 - Hiring best practices
  • 38:23 - Border closures and what it means for domestic talent
  • 48:32 - Nick's tip on how to interview well for sector change
  • 53:52 - Sector change: moving from corporate to research institutions or startups
  • 57:58 - Industry 4.0: what the future holds

Links mentioned in this episode:

About our guest:

Nick Birbilis is an Australian engineer and academic. He is a Professor and Deputy Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University. Nick works in the field of materials science and engineering, having made contributions in the area of materials design, materials durability, and materials characterization. Nick was the inaugural Woodside Innovation Chair at Monash University. He directed the Woodside Innovation Centre in the areas of additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing), rapid prototyping, materials durability, data science, analytics, and machine learning. 

Other ways to enjoy this podcast: 

Are you new to The Job Hunting Podcast? 

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients. 

So there is no excuse – I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Enjoy the episode, and ciao for now!


Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert

[email protected]


I cannot recommend it highly enough.

To my friends and colleagues who are currently job hunting, this podcast is for you. Renata Bernarde and her stellar line up of guests very generously share their perspective, advice, behind-the-scene secrets, tips, and anecdotes. "It's called The Job Hunting Podcast (it is what it says on the tin!) Guests include Anita Ziemer, Michelle Redfern, Mohit Bhargava. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Run. Don't Walk." - LinkedIn post shared by Amber Knight.

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