We are making plans to either Skype or phone interview candidates in the next few weeks. Thoughts on the pros and cons of each medium?
Date: 23 Oct 2012 01:13
Number of posts: 13
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Do phone. Skype increases the potential for technological error which could unjustly reflect poorly on candidates. Skype interviews are also awkward since candidates appear to be starring off into space.
I don't think I agree with EduPsychologist. I was on the job market last year and this year, and have done numerous interviews of both types. I prefer Skype as I (1) get to see whom I am talking to, and (2) get to pick up on the nonverbal cues. And I have to say - those nods and smiles from the search committee that you would not otherwise see feel really good given then anxiety behind any interview. Phone interviews can be awkward too, especially pauses between questions when you try to determine when the other person is finished. I feel like Skype flows better. Though technology is always a risk, I would stress to people to be at a place with a reliable internet connection (e.g., I always do mine at my institution - not home) and be forgiving if one technology error occurs. I've never had tech issues with Skype, but I did have a SC accidentally hang up on me over the phone last year as they were doing a conference call and someone hit the wrong button.
I agree with both your points DevApplicant. But I can't tell you how many times I have personally run into disconnection issues with skype when using both wifi and a landline. Skype is just too unpredictable.
Phone interviews are clear, easy to set up and a common form of communication which means no surprises. Your also banking on the notion that everyone has a webcam. I know this is the 21st century but many people just don't have webcams and it's not like the department has a "video conference room" necessarily.
Skype is always better. I have used skype on three of my interviews and it was just great. Never had technical issues during the interviews and very rarely with my daily use of skype.
Some advice for search committees conducting Skype interviews, have your interviewers sit in front of the camera as well. Or have the camera set up in a way that captures all of the interviewers in the room. Otherwise, the interviewee will hear questions without seeing a face, which kind of eliminates the purpose of using Skype :) Blank wall with voices coming from the sky…man's voice and a woman's face…
I agree with annon in that I've rarely had tech issues with Skype even in other personal communications. Connection issues might vary by location? Also - laptops are typically equipped with cameras (Webcams) now, and given that most of us teach with laptops, it is probably a pretty safe bet to assume that the vast majority will have access to a skype-capable computer.
I've found both to be equally effective, but I lean toward phone interviews for the reasons stated above plus one more. With skype, you have to remember that the camera is almost always in a different location than the screen. That is, the applicant (and reviewer) will often be looking at the screen that displays the other person's face, but the camera (often on laptops) will be above the screen. Consequently, it looks like the person is looking down and not at you. In a culture where eye contact is an important nonverbal cue of mutual respect and interest, this may bias you to perceive the person as rude or disinterested.
Either way, I would just recommend that you be consistent across applicants (i.e., phone for all, or skype for all).
I had several phone and Skype interviews last year. I did have some serious technical problems at one interview where the whole time the interviewers appeared fuzzy (so I couldn't even see non-verbal cues). At the other, about 7 people crammed in front of the screen (which was also projected on the wall) - I had about half of the interviewers talking to the wall and not to me. Final thing about Skype is that you cannot have any materials sitting in front of you. You would have to look down or turn your head which looks really, really weird.
All in all, I got a better experience from phone interviews. I felt better prepared and calmer as well.
It is so tempting to "read" or sound less confident when you have the materials right in front of you. Skype simulates what a real interview would be more like moreso, since you'll need to know your research/teaching/etc. well enough to describe it repeatedly (without notes) should you get a campus interview. I've often heard from colleagues on search committees that phone interviews can seem more like the candidate is giving "canned responses" while Skype interviews show the more personable side and if you can describe your research/teaching well to an audience without needing prompts.