How to give a great job talk Andrew Green from the Career Center

By Tommy Flores,2014-06-19 06:12
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How to give a great job talk Andrew Green from the Career Center

How to give a great job talk: Andrew Green from the Career Center

    (November 2007 WIS meeting)

; Take home messages:

    o The job talk is the most decisive part of the application process because it shows

    character and communication skills.

    o Provide context and bigger picture message of your research questions because most

    people in the audience are not in your field so you want to reel them in with the

    bigger picture.

    o The goal is to deliver a good job talk. Often times, job talks do not go so well for

    most applicants, so as long as your talk is good, it will standout. ; The talk began with a discussion of how important the job talk is to your job interview but

    also to your career. In fact, Andrew called the job talk, “the single most important point in

    your career.”

    ; The problem with the job talk is that you have to squish all research you’ve ever done into

    about 40 mins (because seminars are usually less than an hour and you also have to leave

    time for question, so in reality , you only have 38 mins to talk)

    o This is why Andrew suggests going from “general to specific to general,” meaning

    that you should focus on the most important aspects of your research and leave the

    rest out

    ; Main goal: to give a tight, concise, clear job talk that is reels your audience in and keeps their

    attention. This is why, you might have to focus your talk on the most important research ; What to know before you go to the interview:

    o What kind of job talk are you suppose to give? i.e. what does the department want to

    hear about?

    ; For example, are you expected to give a research talk or a teaching talk?

    o What kind of AV equipment do they have?

    o Make sure you have free time in your schedule before you give the talk so that you

    have a change to look over your slides again and collect your thoughts.

    o See the room beforehand if possible to help reduce anxiety

    ; Introduction of your talk: “Setting the hook”

    o Convey the significance of the research to the audience

    ; The goal is to get the audience to lean forward in their seats because they are

    so interested in your talk. Explaining the broader questions that your research

    is designed to answer will help to get the audiences attention

    ; Also, most people in the audience will have limited knowledge of your field

    so you have to tell the audience why your work is important

    o Provide an outline of where your talk is going to make it easier for your audience to

    follow the talk

    ; Presenting your research

    o Go from general to specific to general

    ; This involves stating your general question (if possible, condense your

    dissertation into one main question) and the broader context for your research.

    Then state the specifics required to answer your question.

    o Finish your presentation with a brief overview of your talk and discuss the broader

    implications of the research again.

    o Spend 2-3 slides on your future research and discuss how these ideas fit with the


    o General tips

    ; Assume your audience is ignorant because not everyone knows your research

    as well as you do, so assume that your audience doesn’t know anything!

    ; Watch out for the “straw man complex” and remember that you are the expert

    on your research so don’t loose confidence because you think that your

    audience knows more than you.

    ; Don’t assume that the data say everything. Make sure to explain the

    significance and interesting aspects of your research.

    ; The language of the talk

    o Use evocative language.

    ; Metaphors and similes may help the audience to better understand the

    research but avoid clichés.

    o The 7% rule: people generally only remember 7% of talks

    o But 65 % of people remember talks based on body language so emphasize the

    important parts of the talk with pauses, changes in tonality.

    o Showing that you are excited about your research also helps to engage your audience. o Mistakes: most people don’t notice when you misspeak, so don’t draw attention to

    your mistakes by apologizing for them.

    o Make eye contact with everyone in the room. This helps to engage the audience and

    to humanize the audience.

    o Make sure to adjust written language to spoken language. For example, if you want to

    talk about data in a paper you’ve written, don’t put your paper directly into your talk.

    Instead, change the language so that the talk flows more naturally. o Speak slowly and make the talk easy to follow because people are hearing about your

    research for the first time.

    ; The easier you make the talk for the audience, the smarter the audience will

    feel and the better the audience will feel about you.

    ; Questions:

    o If a question is unclear or ambiguous, re-state the question in your own words and try

    to maintain control.

    o If a member of the audience raises objections to parts of the talk, you don’t have to

    engage every point if you feel uncomfortable. You can always ask to discuss the point

    after the talk.

    ; General tips:

    o Bring transparencies with you. You never know if the school will have problems with

    their projector or if you loose your computer etc. But the school will always be able

    to get an overhead projector relatively easily.

    o Practice! If possible, deliver the job talk to people who are not familiar with your

    research as well. This will highlight the parts of the talk that are unclear. o The point of the job talk is to carry your audience step-by-step through your research

    so that you can show your audience how well you know your research. o Always have confidence in the argument that you are making.

    o You have made it this far, don’t blow the job talk!

    ; Individual interviews:

    o The goal of the individual interviews is to show that you have interesting research,

    that you would make a good colleague, and that you are good with students. o Be prepared for any question, even if the school tells you that you don’t need to

    worry about certain things. For example, if they tell you will not be asked about

    teaching, be prepared for teaching questions anyway, because other members of the

    search committee may want to know about your teaching experience. o Show that you are a likable and charismatic person.

    o Have good questions about the department that you can always ask if the

    conversation is strained.

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