In this issue

Tips for Preparing for the Job Talk

The editors focus on tips for preparing the job talk for Early Career Psychologists.

By Kelly Dunn, PhD, and Sarah Tragesser

This article represents the second installment in the series targeting issues faced by Early Career Psychologists (ECPs). In this article, we will focus on tips for preparing the job talk. The job talk is used to evaluate not only your research, but also your teaching ability, your ability to think critically, and your personal style.

Planning Your Job Talk

  • Begin working on your job talk as soon as possible in the job search process. This will give you time to think about the flow of your job talk and revise as needed. If possible, attend other talks or practice talks for ideas.
  • Plan a talk that demonstrates your expertise, but that is also comprehensible to non-experts. Your talk should address a wide audience.
  • Decide on the main points you want your audience to remember. Organize your talk around these ideas. Successful talks communicate a memorable take-home message.
  • Focus on the research you have conducted, especially first or single-author publications (e.g., the dissertation). Show how your research is programmatic. Always include a section describing the next step(s) in your research.
  • Follow the well-known saying, “Tell them what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.”

Tips For Formatting Your Talk

  • Only focus on details that are especially significant (although you should be prepared to address other details if asked).
  • Keep slides simple and to-the-point. Avoid overly wordy slides.
  • Think about including additional slides that may be useful during the Q&A period, but place these at the end. Skipping slides will come across as unprepared.
  • Use a level of media you are comfortable with. Avoid overly fancy features that may become annoying to audience members.

Once You Receive An Invitation to Give a Job Talk

  • Tailor your talk to the conditions and expectations of the specific institution (e.g., length of the talk and question-answer period, room size, audience, available equipment, job expectations). Keep in mind what each institution is looking for or specific instructions, if given. Research your potential colleagues within the department to help you anticipate questions.
  • Reference campus events or the work of your potential colleagues if possible. This helps you connect with the audience and demonstrates your knowledge of, and interest in, the institution.
  • Practice your talk in front of your peers and senior colleagues and encourage them to ask questions. Honestly solicit feedback on how to improve.
  • When you arrive on campus, try to find a time to visit the location of your talk to ensure that your equipment is compatible.

When Giving Your Talk

  • Always bring a back-up plan and multiple copies of your talk (e.g., back-up copy on a thumb drive or email).
  • Stay within the time period provided!
  • Avoid simply reading the phrases from your slides. Slides should include a summary of your larger idea or points.
  • Stick to your outline. Don’t go off-topic. However, you should feel comfortable and prepared enough to allow for some spontaneity.
  • Show confidence! Try to be as relaxed as possible. Never become defensive during Q&A periods. Demonstrate energy and enthusiasm.


Reis, R. M. (2001, March 30). Giving a Job Talk in the Sciences. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from