Sunday, February 04, 2007

Job Talk

Dr. Crazy has an interesting post about giving job talks. I would be interested in hearing whether or not faculty who have served on hiring committees agree with her thoughts on this matter. Putting together such a talk sounds really daunting to me.

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Blogger Michael Elliott said...

OK, I just posted a comment over there. Basically, the arrogance of this kind of institutional demand makes my blood boil (tailor everything to us! show us how much you love us!), and yet I think the advice is largely correct. Particularly on these points:

* It's crucial to find out exactly what is expected of you in any talk/presentation.

* As part of that, you should ask who will be there, and exactly what the time parameters should be.

*Any good talk or presentation will be very clear on its trajectory: will provide a good map for the listeners to follow

* All job talks are also about teaching. Even if you are just presenting your research, those in the room are trying to figure out what kind of teacher you are. Moreover, you can always work in references to your teaching.

* However, it IS a place to show how well you know the field.

Really, this kind of talk is not that hard, except that you are doing it on the fly while you have 6 other things to do. Here's the real thing, though: there are very few home-run job talks. Mostly, they are fine, with some limitations: it's just not a forum that really allows anyone to do that well -- especially when an institution is putting such unreasonable demands on its candidates. So, the main thing is to try to main your poise and sense of humor under these ridiculous circumstances; if you can do that, everyone in the room realizes what a confident and composed person you are, and that's a big help.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Wow...thanks for posting this, Sarah. If we'll be doing this type of thing ourselves this time next year (and let's hope so), it's helpful to start thinking about it now.

11:23 PM  
Blogger sap said...

Michael, I really appreciate all the comments you posted over there. Not only does it how much you have thought about this topic, but it 'upped the ante' on the stakes of the conversation happening in that post. On behalf of PhD students everywhere, thanks.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Michael Elliott said...

I think Blogger just ate a long comment of mine here. The kernel of it was:

a) most of the advice Dr. C. has is right, even for a research talk

b) much of this dynamic stems from institutional anxiety. Sadly (very sadly) too many people are insecure about their professional status, and they want job candidates to validate their own institutions and departments. (A way to torpedo a candidacy: "He/she didn't seem much interested in us.)

So, you have to show that you want to be a part of them, but you also can't be too desperate. (This dynamic is by no means limited to teaching colleges and the like; it has been in play here, too. But it finally seems to be on the decline. Perhaps we now feel better about ourselves?)

12:18 PM  

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