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Jan 10 2013

Faculty Candidate Jobbe Talks

Many grad students and post-docs are seeing faculty candidates come in and give jobbe talks in their departments, and it is really instructive to see both good and bad ones.

But don’t underestimate how much preparation and practice it takes to give a good job talk. While it certainly helps to see the mistakes others make and to tell yourself not to make those same mistakes, it still requires substantial time and effort and lots of feedback from others after giving multiple practice talks to ensure that you don’t.

Think about it this way: It’s really easy for any golfer to see the difference between Tiger Woods’ swing and the swing of some duffing geezer down at the driving range. That doesn’t mean any golfer can just get up on the tee and swing like Tiger at will.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    ChasCPeterson

    Job talks? i suppose I’ve given as many as anybody…four (4) assistant professorships plus five (5) interviews for jobs I didn’t get. My advice: tailor the talk to the job, department, and insitution (you can not be too blatant about this). Talk about 75/25 about what you’ve done and what you want to do. Don’t feel bad if you lose out to an internal candidate–the fix waz in. What you’ve done should be 1 or 2 stories–no more. rock on.

  2. 2
    carlie

    Also – be able to roll with the punches. What happens if the computer can’t read your presentation file? What if you forget your flash drive on the way? (well, you should have emailed it to yourself also, but yeah) You should be able to give your talk without any aids if necessary. Might sound like overkill, but I went on a job interview in which the media DID fail, and I had to use chalk and a board instead.

  3. 3
    Grumble

    Nothing like a job talk for separating the arrogant ignorant from the just plain arrogant.

  4. 4
    slc1

    Actually, Tiger Woods’ swing has been off for the past 3 years.

  5. 5
    Historiann

    A-men. Underpreparation is unforgivable IMHO. Even now, I practice conference presentations by myself in my hotel room. Who cares if you sound like an idiot talking to yourself? Do it, at least three times if you’ve never given the talk before, and twice if you have. (This is on top of whatever practice job talks you’ve done with your grad faculty or colleagues.)

    Also: this is truly the only way to ensure that you will stay within your time limit. Going more than a minute or two over your suggested time limit indicates a lack of respect for your audience, who has listened and waited patiently to ask you questions about your interesting research. My department certainly evaluates candidates based not just on their talk, but the ways in which they interact with us as potential colleagues. Let your audience impress you with the quality and insight of their questions, so that you can impress them with the acuity and style in answering them.

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