What matters

on a job trip.

Not the research, since only candidates with good research get the campus visit anyway.

Office meetings are important.

But the big thing is the workshop. How well do you handle questions and make the seminar a discussion rather than a lecture. If you are good at the seminar, you will get many job offers. People with ‘better papers’ and worse seminars will get many fewer job offers.

People who give better seminars tend to be more productive in the long run too. I don’t know which way the causality goes, though.

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5 responses to “What matters

  1. Interesting… I’ve never been on an interview that included a workshop. My impression has been that teaching demos are important-to-critical at places that ask for them, however.

  2. Chris,

    then at those interviews, I bet that the teaching thing is 90% of what matters in the end.

    Unless there is some hidden agenda about fields, or the school is worried that you aren’t taking them seriously in the first place so you need to signal your enthusiasm.

  3. Seems like I’m just following Chris around making comments today. Strange.

    The workshop is at LEAST 90%. And the way you handle the discussion, especially the STRANGE questions, is 90% of that. For a long time, it appeared I always gave terrible talks, but was pretty good in the questions period. Of course, that was before we actually used computers, so it would probably only be half true now: I would give a terrible paper, and then SUCK at the questions.

    Here’s the real question departments want to know, or so say I: Is this person going to publish >=2 good journal articles per year, every year, for (basically) the rest of their lives?

    Not great, not super path-breaking. But solid, normal science papers in refereed journals.

    This is different from “are you smart?” Smart people who sit around with their thumbs up their intellectual assets are far too common. Can you FINISH? Finish, finish, finish.

    Now, I have no idea if the workshop actually TELLS us anything about this “real question.” But that is the real question.

  4. Mike,

    I agree with you about the “real question.” Maybe the semianr is useful because publishing successfully is really about answering the questions and cricisms raised by the referees in a convincing way. Exactly what people who are good at the seminars can do.

    The seminar does not do a good job of measuring perseverance, though. Which is probably why there are some people with good initial placements who don’t do as well in the long run as other people with less good initial placements.

  5. sorry for all the typos. That’s the problem with typing while playing with kids…

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