Goodbye Meat Market, Hello Skype

More and more history departments are using Skype to interview job candidates.  Over at Inside Higher Ed, Lynn Lubamersky of Boise State University argues that Skype interviews are not only cheap (they’re free!), but they put job candidates at ease in a way that the traditional AHA “meat market” interview does not.

My favorite part of the piece is Lubamersky’s description of the job candidates who strategically placed books in the background of their video feed so that the committee could see what they were reading.  (Or at least what books they owned!).

I have mixed feelings about using Skype for interviews.  As a department chair, I see the benefits of being able to save money on interviews–for both the committee and the candidates.  On the other hand, it is hard to beat a face-to-face encounter.  Whatever the case, I think Skype will the be the wave of the future for conducting first-round interviews.  What do you think?

While you are thinking, here is a taste of Lubamersky’s piece:

It was striking how beautifully some of the candidates communicated with us, filling the screen with their laughter and wit, and showing real enthusiasm and capacity to bridge the digital space between us. I think that students today prefer to communicate via their electronic devices rather than in person, so these candidates showed that they were already doing that in a big way. Some of the candidates staged their interview so appealingly — with artfully placed key titles in the background — that their image gave the impression that it was the book jacket photograph on their first published book. Other candidates were interviewing between classes, standing before 12-foot-high European casement windows of their university offices while gray northern light streamed through, projecting their competence and professional experience. And one candidate who was living in an 18th-century farmhouse delightfully scanned the camera 360 degrees so that we could enjoy a view of the rustic space in which she was living.

One thought on “Goodbye Meat Market, Hello Skype

  1. I'm curious as to the other possible consequences of the change. For example, would the cost (in both time and money) for applicants decrease now that they no longer have to attend a slew of conferences for the sole purpose of interviews? Would job committees end up interviewing more candidates than they would otherwise because they could cut down on defraying travel expenses?

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