Advice for faculty candidates interviewing at UTCS

Everybody has heard the advice that job talks must be "accessible to a broad audience". Some people take this to mean that "all of the talk must be understandable by a broad CS audience". Unfortunately this leads the speaker to remove all the depth from their talk, for fear that somebody in the audience might not understand it. The resulting talks are underwhelming.

Keshav Pingali suggested this recipe based on thirds: 1/3 of your talk should be understandable by everyone. This should include the motivation and the high-level contribution and significance of the work. 1/3 of your talk should be understandable by people in your general area. Finally, 1/3 should be understandable by specialists working on your particular problem.

I'm not sure I would go so far as Keshav. But I do agree that there must be at least part of your talk where you describe the key problem and your solution in detail, and that this is likely to be fully understood by only a few people in the audience. But that's OK.

So PLEASE keep the depth in your talks and don't worry too much that somebody might not be able to follow. Just think about how many job talks you've been to where you haven't understood everything. It's OK. Take a deep breath. Show your depth!

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