I've been invited to visit a research center for a postdoc position, including giving a brief talk (25min) about my thesis.

My doubt is, should I refocus my talk to be closer to the research they are doing? If yes, how to do it, what to consider?

I think they just expect a good talk, since I will have later this day a meeting with future mentors, other postdocs and students.

  • 3
    I suspect that they want to see you present on the work that you have done. How well you can explain the problem, your approach, the results, and the broader context of the problem, the easier it is for them to imagine you doing the same for the work you would do with them. Trying to focus on their research will result in a bad talk.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 15:40
  • Is this a "job talk", or do you already have the job? Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:07
  • @paul garrett, I passed a Skype interview, seems they liked me and my cv.
    – biotech
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 21:45
  • Ok, good, but, to be clear, then, this is a job talk!?! And you've done well enough on the Skype interview to get an in-person interview. But I'd wager that things are not settled, so that the talk you give will be part of the "test" of whether they really want to hire you for the position. So I'd think it should be as high-energy as possible, to convince them. A diffident, boring talk might cause them to decide to not give you the position. Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 21:47
  • We can call it job talk @paul garrett. Yes, I still need to do my best during this talk, let's see.
    – biotech
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


No. Having given these talks (and attended a great many of them) in the past, I can say from experience that most likely the research center wants to know how you present work in general, and if you can speak to a wide audience.

If you want to tailor the your talk at all, make sure it is providing sufficient background and give a "big-picture" version of your work. It is fine to include details (indeed that is expected), but don't get your self hung up on minuscule details related to your methods (unless asked).

Best of luck.


You will be assessed on the quality of YOUR work and your ability to effectively communicate it, so I'd suggest not refocussing your presentation. That said, you should ALWAYS keep your audience in mind, and adjust your talk such that it is at an appropriate level for the audience. For example, if your talk is currently tailored to a room full of experts in your field, you may well need to add some intro material to bring your new audience to speed, and you may need to put some of the geekier details on a spare slide at the end to pull up if you get a question on the details.

Also, you might have the opportunity to explain why your work is relevant in the context of their work. Tell them why they should care.

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