What are the thoughts about including some personal information (i.e., self disclosure) within a job talk? Is it okay to include photos at the beginning about where one is from? Or how about pic of one's child? I know one should not overdo the entire self-disclosure thing, but might some help? Thoughts? What about starting off with a little humour (e.g., something about the weather if one is coming from or going to another climate)?
Date: 08 Dec 2014 01:22
Number of posts: 15
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I've never seen it, and it seems like the wrong venue. You're supposed to be presenting research, right?
Humor is good, though comparing current and previous locales can backfire. Whatever you say, it may come across as criticism.
Agree with the above post. No self-disclosure. It's a research talk (or a teaching demo in the case of more teaching oriented schools). Humor is good though and can create a less stressful atmosphere if everyone starts off with a laugh.
It really depends. I've done talks where humor went over with a huge bang and then others where the same humor fell completely flat. And I ended up at the place where the humor went over - cause sometimes, heck if the faculty can't take a joke, then what kind of place is that to work in. Not the place for me - but maybe for others. And now when I watch job talks - the people who can inject some humor, it does go a lot way with our faculty. So it is a preference thing. I think doing one self-disclosure thing is okay on your slides - more than that…then you're treading a fine line of looking like you're too inward focused. If you have something that comes up spontaneously that is about you as joke - in an answer to a question, that's fine.
I somewhat disagree with the sentiments of the previous posters. I think a little, nicely placed, humor perfectly fine. Yes, it's a job talk and it should be seriousbut you should show a bit of your human side to your potentially future colleagues (and potentially friends). Pictures of your children, if tactfully used are okbut it really has to fit (e.g., if you study ADHD and have a picture of your child that would fit). However, I wouldn't push it, and I wouldn't do something that pushes you outside your comfort zone because that will mess with your ability to present.
The key in your job talk is to show that you do good research and it is relatable—and that you are relateable.
Do not disclosure personal information in your job talk; it sounds unprofessional. Humor is good, but when people without any sense of humor tell a joke, it can become awkward. If you are not good at it, don't do it.
I don't see any harm in disclosing some background information about yourself, especially if it's not to private. I actually have seen talks where people talked about their background and/or family and tied it to the talk. If you can do that and have something in your background that relates to the talk that could be good.
I like the route of leaving it out of the presentation materials (e.g., no pictures or super rehearsed jokes with related pictures in the slideshow), but using very brief humor otherwise during the talk, and being open to talking about yourself as a person/your family during other parts of the interview. I think communicating openness is important, but you want to be professional. of course a huge issue is whether you are a male or female- men can probably get away with much more in terms of talking about family during a research talk.
An example I've seen where disclosure worked: Someone interested in spatial memory shows pictures of the places they've worked (grad school institution, postdoc institution) as an example of how space shapes memory. (Illustrative)
An example I've seen where disclosure did not work: Someone opened their talk describing a relative's struggles with X as justification of why they're interested in Y. (Awkward)
I've read that the job talk should be the most formal part of your campus visit, and the interviews with faculty during other parts of the day are really the time to let your personality shine through more, use more humour, talk about personal information, etc. Not that you can't do this a bit in the job talk if it's natural to you and fits with the talk, as others have said, but I think you should really tone it down and keep the focus on research. Does it really matter to your audience that you have a kid/a dog/come from a certain area? Probably not- they're there to hear about your research. Plus, it was hard enough fitting in all my content into an hour talk. So best to leave it out if in doubt.