Hey, it’s Dr. Liu here again. In this video I will show you how to do a research talk for an academic position job interview.
First of all, we need to be clear about the objective of a job talk. The No.1 objective is not to demonstrate you competence. It is not another defense of your work. The No 1 objective is to persuade the employer that you are a good fit for the position being advertised. You must demonstrate your ability to contribute to the institution, and your ability and willingness to collaborate as a potential colleague. What matters is not only your qualification, but also your maturity, flexibility, and maybe teaching ability. The fact that you are invited to do the interview means that the employer has already accepted your qualification. Now it is time to focus on something more specific.
Therefore, I suggest to include the following three key parts in a typical job talk. The first part is about them. It is about the institution, and the position being advertised. Before we talk about our qualifications, we ‘d better talk about them first. There are two reasons to do that. First, it will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job. The employer needs to know you are serious bout the job, you really like the job and plan to stay here if they hire you. They do not want to hire a person who is likely to leave whenever there is another better option, after they have made an investment in you. Second, your knowledge on the institution and the position can also demonstrate your ability to do some basic research.
In this part, you want to image you are already part of them, think in their position. In order to do that, before you go to the interview, you need to research the position, research the institution as much as possible. What is going on in the institution? What are the core facilities in this institution? What are the goals of the department, or the college? You may want to identify at least one challenge they are facing. What you can do to help them to achieve their goal? Give them your vision for the future. The key is to demonstrate that you have done your homework. You want to make the audience believe that you understand this department, understand its goal, and you are eager to make a contribution. Preparing one presentation and hope it will work for job talks for different positions will not work. You always need to tailor your talk to the specific position, and make it clear you really want the job.
In the second part, you talk about yourself. You want to highlight your strength that is relevant to the specific position. You do not need to talk everything you have done. You want to be selective and focused. Limit the scope. Make sure the audience can understand your work in the limited amount of time. At least, you should make your introduction and summary understandable to most of the audience. Here, you want to demonstrate you are a good teacher, you are able to hold the attention of a room, even if the advertised position may have no teaching responsibilities. Of course, you can add a some technic details in your results to demonstrate you are a real expert. Here, the key is to demonstrate your are a major player in your field. You have connections in you discipline, and you understand the funding mechanisms you might go for. You are independent, you have your own ideas, you could present them energetically, and you are exited to get your ideas into the public realm. In this part, you may also include some personal stories, adding some human elements, and thus make your presentation more influential.
Last, you want to talk about the fit. Can you fit in this particular environment? What are your solutions for the challenges they are facing? In this part, you need to demonstrate your collegiality. You need to know your audience. You need to be interested in your future colleagues. It may be a good idea to find inspirations in other people’s work, or to connect your disciplinary interests with community outreach. You want to situate your research interest in the context of the host institution. How your research agenda might bridge with other faculty members in the institution? How your research interest might fit into this department? You may also demonstrate your interest in being involved with the local community.
In summary, in a typical job talk, it is not all about you. You need to understand your audience, speak to them based on who they are, what they do, and how they define the job ad. If you don’t care enough to do that, you don’t deserve the job. One more thing, you want to be strict with the time limit they give you, and you want to make it clear, are you expected to do a pure research talk or it should also include a teaching element? Different institution may have different requirements.
Thanks for watching, I am Dr. Liu with research tips for the underdogs. Until next time, let’s be well prepared for the next job interview.
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