I'm curious about others' experiences with phone/Skype interviews. I just had a Skype interview yesterday for a position that I really want at a SLAC. I had been asked to submit a teaching statement, research statement, and a diversity statement among other materials. Assuming that the search committee had reviewed these materials, I was prepared to answer more in depth questions about my experience and spent a lot of time reading up on the faculty members in the department and preparing to talk about exactly how I would structure courses. As it turned out, the search committee essentially asked me to repeat what I had already stated in my materials (what do you see as the strengths of a SLAC, how would you mentor students from diverse backgrounds, what courses are you prepared to teach, etc.). I was unsure of how much to say given that I had already discussed all of this in great detail in my materials. As a result, I don't feel like I was as articulate or expressed myself as well as I would have hoped. Throughout the interview, it seemed clear that the search committee thought my written materials were strong; however, now I'm worrying that I have blown my chances at getting my dream position because I didn't as well as I could have in this phone interview. I guess I'm just confused as to the purpose of the phone interview and how much it matters as compared to the application since I didn't feel like the search committee gained any real new information about me with the questions that they asked. Any thoughts or insights that anyone has would be greatly appreciated as I sit here and obsess over what I could have done differently!
Date: 17 Mar 2015 13:57
Number of posts: 12
RSS: New posts
This topic has come up before, so you can look in the archives for more.
The obvious answer is that the Skype interview is used as a 'diversity' screening. In my opinion, this is also the correct answer.
But that is likely not all there is to it. Using Skype lets you see the person, and (I guess) you can pick up on other details - the person's beauty and age, whether she has a nervousy character, whether she seems defensive, etc. Of course, all these things are relatively superficial. Beauty and age can't be changed, the person may be nervous because it is an interview, etc. The information that Skype provides over a regular phone interview is minimal, and I think most search committee members are sensitive to that.
What it definitely provides is a measure of 'diversity'. If they aren't sure whether you are black, whether you are gay, etc., the Skype interview can give some necessary cues.
I have no doubt that others will contradict me on this, but in my experience this is the true, unstated purpose of the Skype interview.
Don't assume that SC reads all your application material or that they remember what you wrote. They probably reviewed many applications and can't remember them all. Even if they did review your materials sometimes it's easier to hear it directly from the applicants. That way you can gauge whether they are sincere and actually meant what they wrote. You should always be prepared to discuss everything you included in the application.
I've done numerous phone interviews, and they are all similar to what you experienced, anonymous. The other stuff (structure of a course, reading up on faculty members, etc.) are things that I've never had to prep/discuss until on-campus interviews. Seeing the person and their demeanor is part of a Skype interview, but it is often just seeing how you talk about yourself. Written statements can be canned or copied, so they often want to see if you can verbally articulate why a SLAC is right for you or how you'd engage students in research, etc. I always try to make it different than my written statements by adding in some examples as I chat or a little bit of humor.
I think it's cynical to say that Skype interviews are for diversity screening. Sure that could be a small factor, but many schools would do them anyway even if they had no "diversity" consideration.
I think the previous two people described it right. First of all, the committee might not have read your materials in that much depth. Second, they want to gauge how much you really believe it, versus how much someone basically told you what to write. Third, sorry your interview wasn't this way, but they often ask something a bit different from what was in your materials and might ask you to think on your feet a little. Fourth and relatedly, they want to see if you can summarize your research (or teaching) in 60 seconds — very different from writing about it.
The other thing is that a lot of SLAC applicants do not have materials as good as yours, but they might have tempting CVs, e.g. lots of publications, or maybe even some excellent teaching evals. But they don't speak much / enough to undergraduate education and undergraduate research in their materials. These research superstars are tempting for elite SLAC search committees, but they need to see if this type of candidate would actually fare well at a SLAC and would want to go there. Hence, the phone screen. Someone like you has already nailed it. If all applicants were like you they would not hold the screening calls. But they need to screen other people who seem good in some parts of their application but haven't yet convinced the committee of their dedication to the mission of the college.
I hope you get a campus interview! If it makes you feel any better, I BOMBED my very first phone interview but was still invited to campus and got the job. Good luck!
I realize this is a very old post, but my personal opinion on this matter is that Skype should not be used in place of phone calls. Having been on several screening committees at this point, I can say that phone interviews are fantastic. These are quite helpful in narrowing from a long list to the handful that you can invite to campus. Campus interviews are burdensome for all involved, so using phone interviews to whittle your list from 10 to 3 is going to save a tremendous amount of time and energy.
That said, the only reason I can see to move to a Skype call (instead of a phone call) is to be able to screen for diverse candidates (our school recently recommended moving to Skype calls in the hiring guide put out by the diversity office). Some think that it's easier to have a dialog with the visual cues, but I think the gains here are likely minimal compared to the risks of having things like halo effects come into play during the hiring process. This is already in place during campus interviews, but at the very least the short list has been developed without such biases. Seems like, as psychologists, we should know better.
These responses confuse me. I have 4 colleagues who have served on psych search committees, so I informally polled them. 3 of the 4 said they used Skype interviews to narrow the pool (the other one used phone), and none of the 3 said that Skyping had anything to do with diversity. Also, I know several TT academics who do not qualify as diversity candidates and their offers were all preceded by Skype interviews. I think Skype interviews are more common than phone interviews because it's 2015.
Yes, anon, you are right. People use Skype because it's 2015, not for "diversity." The equipment is actually easier / more likely you own it for Skype than for a decent quality conference call. Also because it's 2015, if you want to know someone's skin color (or race or ethnicity) you can probably find it out without making them show up to Skype.
The halo effect issue is a fair criticism though.