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Is it good to prepare slides to present during the video chat even if the search committee say you don't need to prepare slides?

What's the strategy of impressing them then?

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Before we decide to bring faculty candidates to on campus interviews, we would like the search committee or department head to have met the candidate before. This used to happen primarily at the major conferences in our field for any candidates that we did not already know. Now it can sometimes happen alternatively in videoconference interviews. These will generally last about 30 minutes, but are planned a bit longer in case things go really well.

You should absolutely not have slides prepared, and you should not be tempted to refer to slides to answer questions. The goal here is to see how you interact spontaneously with other academics, how you talk about your research, how you talk about your career goals, etc. We are absolutely not interested in a canned presentation. In fact, we would prefer that your answers do not sound too well "rehearsed" or "coached" at all!

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    Just a note - you don't want answers to sound "canned," but most interviewees definitely need to rehearse. They just should do so without becoming "scripted." – Dawn Apr 11 at 13:01
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    Agree completely! Big difference between preparing and rehearsing, versus sounding overly scripted! Thanks! – alerera Apr 11 at 16:27
  • What's the strategy of impressing them then? – feynman Apr 12 at 9:53
  • @feynman Being able to communicate well. – Austin Henley Apr 12 at 15:45
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No. I have done eight Skype interviews, and I have never been in a situation where I would need or want slides. I am probably not in your field, but I don’t think my experience is unusual.

It is a better use of your time to practice your answers to common interview questions. Make them succinct and compelling. Also prepare short ideas on teaching every class mentioned in the job ad. Finally, learn about the department and have lots of questions for them.

  • very good thx. BTW what's ur field, and did u pass those skype interviews – feynman Apr 11 at 2:28
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    Speaking from the point of view of the interviewer, I agree. Don't use slides in a Skype interview. – LarrySnyder610 Apr 11 at 2:40
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    I had a skype interview with a research institute that wanted me to prepare slides once (and give them in advance). But otherwise yes, a typical skype interview for an academic position is a many-on-one interrogation where they fire questions at you like a batting cage. Any stunts you try to pull to deviate from that would probably just annoy everyone. – A Simple Algorithm Apr 11 at 4:03
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    Actually yes, 100% of my skype interviews turned into flyouts. It is actually kind of amazing. My two other tips are a) good lighting/backdrop and b) don't wait until the end to ask questions - ask them throughout and make it a conversation. – Dawn Apr 11 at 12:59
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In addition to the other, quite correct, answers, here is another perspective:

It is very unwise to disregard the clear instructions of the search committee. Even on a minor topic, this sort of behavior can reflect quite negatively on the candidate.

  • What's the strategy of impressing them then? – feynman Apr 12 at 9:54
  • You should ask this as a separate question, not in the comments, and not by editing your question. – vadim123 Apr 12 at 14:32
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The only time I was asked to present slides was in followup onsite interviews. During the initial Skype interviews, I have never been asked to present slides.

The initial Skype interviews are, in my opinion, usually just to get a little more information about your background and to get a feel how well you communicate your field of work. In an academic setting, this is important, because your ability to clearly communicate your work is highly correlated to success in teaching, filing grant applications, etc...

To impress them, you want to be able demonstrate how you would fit into the department. Generally, they want to make sure that there is no overlap in the topics that each faculty is working on so that there is no competition inside of the department for funding. To the contrary, any synergies that you could propose would probably we welcome.

I think that the biggest thing that they will want to know is simply... can you fund yourself and your group. Either you have demonstrated this in the past already or you haven't. You can't change much there. Just be prepared for this question and have a good answer.

  • What's the strategy of impressing them then? – feynman Apr 12 at 9:54
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I've had tenure-track faculty Skype interviews that included PowerPoint presentations, and ones that didn't. I recommend you follow their instructions. In this case, they are not necessary. If there's something highly technical that you need to refer to, you could share your screen with them, but it's probably not advisable. It's not a job talk. Instead, this is an opportunity to demonstrate how to communicate your research and teaching in everyday language.

  • What's the strategy of impressing them then? – feynman Apr 12 at 9:54
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    In my personal experience, the skype interview is mostly about: showing professionalism, warmth, and competence in verbal interactions; discussing fit with the institution (research, teaching, other), such as what your career goals are, why you applied to this kind of position, etc.; exploring questions they had from your written materials, such as in my case asking about a gap in the CV; etc. In sum, do your homework about what they want and who they are, and show via detailed questions how you would succeed in the role in that context. – Cameron Brick Apr 12 at 10:56

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