Presentation Ideas for a Faculty Job Interview
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Faculty job interviews have lots of moving parts. Interviewers want to know why you are the best fit for their institution -- such as what you can and are willing to teach along with your research interests. In addition, you meet with many individuals including existing faculty, the department chair, the dean and students. Many times, interviewers ask you to make a presentation, and a bad showing can sink your employment odds. Walk through the door with solid presentation ideas and a warm, knowledgeable demeanor.
For a teaching presentation, interviewers often request that you teach a class. Your presentation topic should match what you are prepared to teach with what is currently in demand at the college or university. Request a copy of the syllabus in advance -- and confirm where students are in the course calendar. Gather information about class size. Do not take a new approach during your demonstration; go with a content and presentation style that you know. Strike a balance that demonstrates your knowledge of theory while taking advantage of spontaneous moments to apply concepts practically.
Another option is to present original research -- work for which you were the lead or primary investigator. This makes sense for an institution that expects faculty members to supplement teaching with research agendas. For a faculty job interview, it’s best to choose a completed analysis -- meaning you have written an article that is under peer review or has been published. Choose a format that is easy to absorb, such as a PowerPoint presentation. Address your research question, study design, methods and key findings along with cutting edge aspects to your approach.
Whether you present teaching or research, the interviewers want to see how you respond to feedback -- including constructive criticism. The answers you share are just as important as how you share them. For example, for a research presentation, a question might be: "What are the conceptual and methodological limitations of your research?" Avoid answers that are ambiguous or detail laden. If you do not know an answer, do not create one. Simply state that the question is intriguing and you look forward to exploring it in the future. Stay calm no matter how questions are presented. At the same time, be authoritative. It’s important for you to look “professorial” to be respected as an expert by students and as an equal by faculty.
Other Helpful Tips
Ask how much time you have to present and rehearse your talk to increase your odds of sticking to the schedule. In addition, prepare supporting materials to guide your audience -- particularly when presenting sophisticated subject matter. Finally, find safe ways to engage others such as through body language and eye contact. Do not take uncalculated risks under pressure like trying to remember too many names. Addressing audience members incorrectly, including mispronunciation, could give a negative impression.
Kenya Lucas has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in “Anthropology & Medicine,” “New Directions for Evaluation,” “Psychology of Women Quarterly” and “Journal of the Grant Professionals Association.” She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Brown University.