Monday, January 01, 2007

Job Interviews and a Great Idea

I just got back from the APA Eastern meeting in Washington D.C. As usual, it was focused around the job market. That's a bad thing because a) it puts a lot of pressure on the people being interviewed and b) it detracts from the conference because i) lots of people don't have time to attend sessions and ii) the main topic of conversation is the job market. At least that's been my impression.

Finally I came up with a good--no, great--solution: doing interviews through video conferencing. This would have a lot of advantages. First, there wouldn't be the same hassles for people interviewing:

1) the expense and hassle of traveling between Christmas and New Year's
2) the pressure to glad-hand at the "smoker" after interviews
3) the frustration of seeing and being surrounded by your competition

Second, this would also be easier on the interviewers: again, no need to travel between Christmas and New Year's, to go to a conference where one will spend 12-15 hours interviewing.

Finally, I think the technology is just about where it needs to be so that video interviews wouldn't be that hard to do.


The interesting question is this: if it weren't for the job market, how many people would come to the Eastern APA? My theory is this: so significantly fewer that it would make sense to move the conference to another time. Mid-November? Another problem solved.

In fact, the more I think about this the harder it is to find reasons not to do the interviews over the web. I honestly can't think of one reason why the present system is better for the people being interviewed.

5 Comments:

Blogger hilde said...

John,

I think the whole APA thing needs big changes. You're right about the tone of the Eastern APA. I hate it there. I hate the bigness and the earnestness and the tension. I'd rather have three more or less equal sized APA meetings.

As for interviewing, I like phone interviews, too. Video might work, but it's placing a high technical test on most faculty. If some interviews work and others don't, you compromise the playing field for some candidates.

I've also thought that job candidates should have a common blog on the web where they post comments about their interviews, anonymously if they wish. These comments could be organized by school. This way, interviewers could not pull outrageous crap on candidates. They'd be called on it, by name, on the blog.

Dave

12:16 AM  
Blogger John Capps said...

Dave,

I can't agree more with the idea of the blog -- anything that would level the playing field would help.

E.g., I talked to someone at the APA who had an interview where one of the interviewers was drinking a beer. In a can.

As far as video over phone interviews, my thought is that soon most everyone will have facility with the technology (or have access to an IT department that does). I'm amazed by the number and range of people I meet who use iChat, e.g.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Khadimir said...

A few comments from those soon to be subject to the terrors of the Eastern APA hiring process....

Myself and a group of colleagues discussed Dr. Capps' points on the use of video conferencing and we disagreed, though only one of us had undergone APA interviews. All of us agreed that it was difficult to get a sense of a person from video interviews.

Moreover, one should not assume that video conferencing facilities are widely available. (I'm told that we could borrow the equipment from Mass Communication.)

Lastly, I personally feel that one of my strengths will be taken from me if I cannot conduct a face-to-face interview. I interview very well, and find interviews to be extremely informative. (Though my interview experience is largely of non-academic positions.) Likewise, I suppose that if I were hiring a candidate, I would be upset at being limited to electronic forms of communication

Why would video conferencing be that much better than a phone interview? The communicative elements gained through the use of video over phone technology seem minimal. (Gesture, pose, countenance, etc are too limited and distorted in this medium.)

As a side note, I am very much feeling the economic difference between our two universities over this matter.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Khadimir said...

A few comments from those soon to be subject to the terrors of the Eastern APA hiring process....

Myself and a group of colleagues discussed Dr. Capps' points on the use of video conferencing and we disagreed, though only one of us had undergone APA interviews. All of us agreed that it was difficult to get a sense of a person from video interviews.

Moreover, one should not assume that video conferencing facilities are widely available. (I'm told that we could borrow the equipment from Mass Communication.)

Lastly, I personally feel that one of my strengths will be taken from me if I cannot conduct a face-to-face interview. I interview very well, and find interviews to be extremely informative. (Though my interview experience is largely of non-academic positions.) Likewise, I suppose that if I were hiring a candidate, I would be upset at being limited to electronic forms of communication

Why would video conferencing be that much better than a phone interview? The communicative elements gained through the use of video over phone technology seem minimal. (Gesture, pose, countenance, etc are too limited and distorted in this medium.)

As a side note, I am very much feeling the economic difference between our two universities over this matter.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Political Zoon said...

Video Conference can be done with a $35 webcam and free software.

3:08 PM  

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