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06/13/2019

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Christopher Hitchcock

Long-time committee member here.

As a general rule, I would suggest sticking to the more polished end of the spectrum. In particular, it is good to give a talk on a topic where you have already heard or anticipated many of the questions you will get.

Don't be afraid to communicate with the head of the hiring committee (or other contact person). It is usually in the committee's interest to have candidates appear in the best light.

Questions to consider: Is the job in a specific area? Is one of you potential talks a better fit for that area? Who is the main audience of your talk? Is it the committee, which has already read your writing sample? (In which case, it may help to give a talk that is different from the writing sample.) Or is it other members of the department who will be unfamiliar with your work? (In which case duplication with the writing sample may not be bad.) Will the audience include other specialists in your area? Faculty from other departments? Students? Is it a good idea to give a broad overview of your research project(s)?

When I chair searches, I talk on the phone with each candidate before they do a campus visit. Our philosophy faculty is small, and we are in an academic unit with the other humanities. The philosophy faculty will have already read the candidates' work carefully, and the talk is primarily for humanities faculty outside philosophy, who won't otherwise be familiar with the work. In this context, it is fine to give a talk based on the writing sample, although it usually good to give more context than one would for a straight philosophical audience.

Amanda

My first piece of advice would be, if you have a plausible paper that very much fits the job add, use that. While this isn't always true, I find that there is often lots of pressure to hire someone that very much fits what admins are looking for.

Other than that, I think at any type of institution making your talk accessible and interesting is important. People are motivated to hire who they like, and if your talk is interesting and accessible then they are more likely to like you.

At research schools, I would typically recommend against using the same paper as your writing sample. While there might be exceptions like the above post, most research schools want to know you have lots of potential almost publish ready papers in the pipeline, and using the same paper works against this image.

anotherpostdoc

I agree that, at research schools, the job talk needs to be based on polished work and should not be the same as your writing sample. But the op assumes that being polished shows that there aren't new things coming. I think my job talk benefited from being a polished version of the first element of a new research program (it was based mostly on a paper under review, although also went towards the questions I was asking in a paper I was then drafting). I had one program that came out of my dissertation, was the basis of most of my first publications, and was the focus of my writing sample. But my talk was on something distinct, mostly in another subfield, and I think the department that hired me really liked to see that, giving them evidence of scope and potential. I got both the benefits of polish (although risked there being some questions that I wasn't prepared for, since it was a new program) and the benefits of demonstrating new, exciting research.

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