For most interviews for tenure-track faculty positions, you can expect to have to give a talk about your research agenda. While there are some situations where you might also have to give a teaching demonstration, there probably are not many positions where the teaching demonstration would take the place of the job talk (at community colleges perhaps?).
These presentation can serve a number of purposes: 1) Proving that you can actually talk to a group of people (i.e., you can teach), 2) Proving you know what-the-hell you did in your own research (i.e., you're not just a parrot of your advisor/PI/etc.), 3) Proving you have a research agenda that is sustainable and interesting (i.e., you're not the one-idea-wonder), and 4) Proving you can answer questions about your research afterwards (i.e., you've spent more than 5 minutes thinking about your research).
In any case, you want to have a job talk prepared well before you go on the actual interview. The standard seems to be to use a PowerPoint (PPT) Slideshow for your presentation, expecting a questions and answers period afterwards. I know there are some new presentation software (softwares?) on the block that might be tempting to use instead of PPT. However, I would recommend against anything that won't splurt out a .ppt file unless you're positive you can use your own laptop in the presentation and you're willing to take the chance of technical difficulties.
|Yeah, it's kinda like that.|
For all of the interviews I've done, I've been told to plan to talk for 30-40 minutes, and the remaining part of the hour or so will be for Q&A. For me, this means typically a PPT of 20-25 slides, although I make sure to check the timing of my show multiple times. I find when I practice the presentation alone, I talk a little slower than when I actually give it, so if I'm hitting 37 minutes (for example) giving the presentation to my cats, then I can assume it's going to be closer to 32 minutes or so when I do it for real. Just make sure you actually *do* practice your presentation so you know whether something needs to be added ,dropped, or otherwise changed, and so it comes across as practiced and smooth. I also find it helpful to print out the slideshow (as a handout, with 4 slides per page), and have that hard copy nearby. I don't ever use it, but it's something that makes me feel more in control and, hopefully, this comes out in my actual presentation.
|Practice my Powerpoint presentation?|
F*CK IT! WE'LL DO IT LIVE!
Obviously content is a major part of the presentation, but the 'presentation' of the presentation is also very important. This relates to the PPT vs. Prezi debate (or at least the debate I made up in my head in the last 10 minutes), to the practicing of your presentation, the timing of your presentation, and also to how it is delivered. Related to that last point, I've found I'm a wanderer when I present. I have a hard time standing in one position (like behind a podium/laptop), and instead prefer to wander a few feet here or there. I warn my audience before I present about this habit, and ask them to bear with me. I think this not only helps them forgive my wandering (a little), but it also helps me show I'm human and be humble about my faults (which secretly tricks them into liking me. FOOLS!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAH! Or something.)
|Using a wireless presenter|
makes you feel a little like
Zeus, got of Lighting,
Thunder, and PowerPoint
Overall, you want to make sure your presentation goes smoothly and comes across as professional, regardless of what you put in it or what software you use to present it.
As noted earlier, I'll have another post soon(ish) about the content of the presentation, but until then, there's a lot of other information about the academic job talk floating around the internet. So to steal from LeVar Burton, don't take my word for it, read the Internets! Here's just a few good posts about it that I found with a simple Google search: