Thursday, March 01, 2012

Interview Tips, Part 2

This post continues on from the last one, with more interview tips. This one focuses on the presentation, which is your opportunity to describe your writing/translation work/research to a captive audience.

Presentation tips

--Make sure your presentation reflects the brief you’ve been given. If you were asked to discuss your research or publications, as is common in academic interviews, do that. Don’t simply recite a list of your publications or grants and don’t talk about your teaching or administrative experience. If we have things we want to ask you about those topics, we will do that during the interview. The presentation is a chance for you show your enthusiasm for your subjects and to teach us about them; in other words, we learn about your writing/research and your teaching style by listening to you. Make the most of the opportunity.

--Do not give a handout and then just read from it, or put words on your PowerPoint and then read from them. The screen or handout should be adding to your presentation rather than being a useless extra. It’s also really boring to sit there, listening to someone read aloud from a sheet of paper. Use the handout or the screen for key points or quotes, not for the entire thing.

--Practice your presentation in advance. It’s very awkward to sit while someone struggles for words or appears not to have any idea what to say. Be very well prepared; just as you might prepare for a reading from your work, prepare for your presentation.

--Along the same lines, time yourself. If you’ve been given 15 minutes to talk, that doesn’t mean 10 and it doesn’t mean 20. It means 15. Use your time well and fully.

--If you have books or other items you want to bring as props to illustrate your talk, that is fine, as long as they don’t take away from what you are saying. Pass them around during the question session, not during the presentation itself, or they will distract your audience.

--Listen to questions and comments from the audience completely and respectfully before answering them. I’ve seen candidates get annoyed when someone has misunderstood or questioned an aspect of their presentation. They then interrupt, sigh, roll their eyes, or otherwise show their irritation. This behavior tells us how you might treat a confused student or colleague.

--Don’t be afraid to admit to ignorance when responding to a question. Many people try to bluff their way through difficult questions, but it actually is much more professional to say, “Thank you for mentioning that author. I haven’t heard of her book, but I’ll look for it...” or “Actually, I never thought about the topic from the perspective you’re proposing. Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll have to think more about it...”

--Thank your listeners for their time and their questions and comments.

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