I am a PhD candidate in computer engineering. I saw an announcement for a post-doctoral position on the internet.

I wrote to the professor having that open position asking him if I could come to visit him and his lab, and talk about the position. He replied yes. We agreed on the date and I asked him if he wanted me to prepare a talk with slides to give during the visit.

He answered:

You are welcome to give a talk or we may just have a meeting. It's fully up to you.

So, what should I do? Talk or just a visit?

A meeting would be more relaxing and confortable, and provide no stress and no extra work.The talk would need time to work on it, and would be more stressful, but may explain better my previous research projects..

What do you suggest to me?

  • 2
    How come you apply for a post-doc and don't have a nice and reasonably recent talk already prepared that will just need a bit of tweaking?
    – cbeleites
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 12:05
  • 1
    If you decide to give a talk, and if you have the choice, schedule it early in your visit: this will give a common ground to discuss early in your visit, and you will be relieve from the stress / preparation.
    – Clément
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 12:14

3 Answers 3


Unless told you shouldn't, you should always opt to give a talk under such circumstances. It makes discussions with your potential future advisor and group members much more meaningful, because your interviewers now have a much better sense of what you do.

Moreover, a solid presentation of technically sound research shows that you have achieved one of the most important skills needed for a researcher: the ability to effectively communicate your work! As a postdoc, your advisor is going to expect you to have most of the research skills needed to complete your work with minimal supervision. Giving a good presentation will clearly demonstrate most of your credentials in a way that a face-to-face talk will not.

Finally, giving a talk to a (mostly) friendly audience is always good practice for your future career. (People get better at giving presentations by giving presentations!)

  • 2
    There's perhaps a third / intermediate option, where you have some slides prepared - perhaps the same slides that you would use for a formalised talk - and just chat the professor through them over coffee.
    – Flyto
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 13:31
  • 1
    Another reason to give a talk is if the funding for the position isn't firmly attributed to this one professor. In the attribution committee, there will be those with a horse in the race, those who owe a favor, and those to whom “hey, it's that guy who gave that nice talk” can make the difference. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 18:05

I would come prepared with a talk. Depending on how many people are in his lab, or if you are going when his lab is having a meeting, you may want to give a talk then.

Sometimes it's nice not to give a talk and to just have a meeting more generally. But, it may be better for your potential colleagues to know the kind of research you have done before and what you are interested in if there is any overlap.

At the end of the day, it's up to you.


No matter how you decide: Bring some slides and be prepared for short presentations. It might be good to meet several people, sit around a laptop and discuss some ideas. This could be more fruitful then a presentation to a wider audience.

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