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I am preparing to give a job talk for an on-campus interview for a tenure-track assistant professor position. The university is located in city X. I really want a job in city X because I have many relatives living in city X, and my parents also live a few hours by plane from city X, and I feel that city X is a good place for my wife and I to raise our kids.

I would like to spend one slide and a minute near the end of my job talk in order to explain why I really want to live in city X. Would this strengthen my case, or would this be seen by the faculty as "too much information?"

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    I wouldn't put it on the slide. If you want to bring it up, mention it unofficially. They will hear that compared to other candidates you are more likely to accept an offer if extended, and will negotiate less. – afaust Dec 16 '14 at 15:51
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    Not an expert, but this seems like something that is best brought up as part of lunch-time or coffee conversation, not as part of your formal job talk. However, I don't think this is a case of TMI - TMI would for instance be when your reason is that your favorite exotic dance club is in this city. – xLeitix Dec 16 '14 at 16:15
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    Social anchoring to a location makes it less likely that a candidate will leave the job in the near future; mentioning why the location is important to you is a valuable piece of information. – Dancrumb Dec 16 '14 at 17:58
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    One adviser mentioned that this factor depends on the ranking of the university. If it's a widely known highly reputable university, saying you have relatives nearby might come off ... strange. That reason would be tiny compared to the prestige of working for that university. If however it's a small one it might carry more weight. This said, I'd probably mention it once and in passing, either at beginning ("Find place?" "Yeah, know city, family lives nearby.") or end ("Traveling back soon?" "No, stay with family in town for a few days."). – Daniel Wessel Dec 16 '14 at 22:12
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    @DA. A job talk is a talk that you give on your research as part of an on-campus interview. The key tension of this genre of academic talk is that the explicit purpose of the talk is to inform the audience about X results, ideas and problems but the implicit purpose is to convince them that you're awesome and they should hire you. This makes job talks tricky to pull off. – Pete L. Clark Jan 11 '15 at 17:59
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Just to put what's already in the comments into an answer:

  • Yes, you should convey the information you've told us to the hiring faculty. If you've gotten a campus interview for a faculty position, they are already extremely interested and satisfied with your on-paper qualifications. Final decisions are often strongly motivated by who they think will take the offer and who they think will stick around, happily and productively, in the job. You list several things that would earn you lots of points on that score, and since the hiring faculty cannot and should not ask too many questions about your personal life, the way to make that information known is to tell them so explicitly.

However,

  • No, you should not put that information in as a slide. Your talk should be about your professional work. Throwing in "I'd like it here! Hire me!!" while people are listening to your work is jarring and shows (I think) just a soupçon of poor judgment. I assume that your on-campus interview is structured so that anyone who is involved in hiring you has multiple opportunities to talk to you outside of the context of your job talk. If so, then I wouldn't even bring it up at all in your talk, except possibly as an ice-breaker at the beginning or a parting shot at the very end.
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    You might think that the talk is the only time you can tell everyone this info, but remember that there will be a hiring meeting at some point after your visit where the several people you told individually can tell everyone else. – Noah Snyder Dec 16 '14 at 17:51
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I would not put it in a slide, but I would feel free to briefly mention it at the beginning or end of your talk. Immediately after you're introduced is a perfect time to say something like "Thank you [name of introducer], I'm looking forward to my day [or I've had a wonderful day] and I'm really excited to be in [city], because this is my favorite place in the world and I have so many family and friends here." You make your point quickly and efficiently without being effusive, it's a nice compliment to the people who are listening, and I think most people would find it a charming and elegant way of segueing into your talk.

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    Calling it 'my favorite place in the world' is going over the top and comes across as totally insincere. – smci Dec 17 '14 at 13:48
  • Whatever is natural for the speaker. Causally spoken, something like that can be pretty matter-of-fact, even though when written it may seem effusive. – iayork Dec 17 '14 at 18:19
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Your talk is likely to be to a wider audience than the selection committee (who may not come in some universities) and might be even wider than your immediate disciplinary group.

You want to convey appreciation for the opportunity to address them. At the beginning, thank them for the opportunity and put up a slide or two on the main strengths of the university and town. This can feel like an exercise in bald-faced flattery but it is the equivalent of "good morning, how are you". You are simply acknowledging the audience and you will feel the appreciation mirrored back to you quite palpably.

Don't include personal reasons here unless they are likely to be shared by your audience. Once I a slide - about the third in my opening pack before I started speaking - and simply said "flat". I was coming from a city that was very hilly. The point is that these points must be shared.

And then to your talk --- and very good luck. Just remember that everyone likes to be liked. Let your liking shine through!

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