I am about to complete my PhD. My area is functional analytic/ operator theoretic aspects of quantum information. I am applying for post-doctoral positions in various places. Recently, one group called me for presentation/ interview over Skype. It should consist of a presentation (20 minutes) and 20 minutes interview. My questions are the following:

  1. What are the common things one should focus while presenting online, and what I should avoid (say, in my slide, or oral comments etc).

  2. The people who called me for interview are physicists (my work is connected to quantum information). As a mathematics student, what is the best way to make myself presentable in these cases.

Some background: I have two publications, some old preprints (arxiv, on discrete mathematics, but not published and not connected with my present research) and a few in draft form (not submitted in arxiv yet). Published papers are not mathematically very exiting, but came up in some reasonably good and well reputed physics journals. Also what I am afraid is, they are not reviewed in math review (many papers from the same journal are frequently reviewed though).

I am a bit afraid, as this is my first time of appearing in such interview (and the reasons mentioned above). Advanced thanks for your helps and suggestions.

  • Welcome. You'll find lots of help in answers to the existing interview questions on this site
    – 410 gone
    Dec 31, 2012 at 7:57
  • A technical point: is it supposed to be screen-sharing or webcam-based presentation?
    – user4463
    Dec 31, 2012 at 8:08
  • @PavelM i asked them, and they are not very clear in their answer. they asked for my slides before the talk.
    – RSG
    Dec 31, 2012 at 8:47
  • 3
    The questions seems to touch three separate issues: presentation via Skype, interview via Skype and presenting quantum information from the perspective of a maths student. Each of them is a good interesting question, but please consider splitting them. Dec 31, 2012 at 13:58
  • @PiotrMigdal I think the last edit by Shyam took care of the first part. I am asking a separate question academia.stackexchange.com/q/5986/4462 regarding the last point.
    – RSG
    Dec 31, 2012 at 15:35

2 Answers 2


The question asks a number of things. I am going to focus on interviewing over Skype/video conferencing since it is extremely difficult to do correctly. The issues associated with interviewing is very different from presenting.

Some things to consider when doing a Skype interview

  1. Location: You need a private setting, a good internet connection, a backup landline, good lighting, and good acoustics. I suggest investing in a off white sheet to use as a backdrop. It is also useful for the camera to be directly in front of you so that it appears you are looking at them when you look at the screen. Make sure you have your notes and a drink within reach.
  2. Timing: You need to know when the interview is happening including the timezone and who is initiating the call. You also need to know what happens if there is a problem. You do not want to lose your valuable interview time to technical problems.
  3. Attendees: Once the interview starts, you need to know who is in the room and where they are sitting. If there are people you cannot see, ask them to move. Ask each person to introduce themselves and make sure you can hear them. During this stage you need to get a baseline read on their facial expressions. You also need to know where they are sitting so that you can "look at them". The slight eye shift required to look at them on the screen is likely not exaggerated enough. Practice this.
  4. Control: Make sure you know who asks each question. Ideally use peoples names so they know you are talking to them. If you don't hear the question, ask them to repeat it. Check that they can hear and see you frequently.
  5. Gestures: You need to minimize your gestures, pointing, and figitng. They are really noticeable on Skype.
  • Maybe get a good-quality headset as well. Jan 4, 2013 at 19:52
  • 1
    @UweZiegenhagen I would actually advise against wearing a headset as they are visually distracting and can hide the mouth which is useful for speech reading. A good mic falls under the acoustics part.
    – StrongBad
    Jan 5, 2013 at 14:48
  • It depends on the audio quality of the webcam. I have made the experience, that a dedicated headset can make a huge difference. At least have one at hand if the quality turns out to be bad. Jan 5, 2013 at 15:40

They are not going to ask you why your papers are not in Math Reviews, or why you never published your old discrete math stuff. You can safely forget about both those things. They want to make sure that you are able to communicate your research ideas to them, and understand theirs -- both are very nontrivial questions in cross-disciplinary hiring. If your research that's in the draft stage can be related to what their group is doing, this is what you'll want to get across. Stating every definition precisely is not as important, but you may be asked to give some of them. If you can, make a nonlinear beamer where navigation arrows point to extra slides with definitions and technical assumptions.

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