Lynn Lubamersky, an Associate Professor of History at Boise State University, makes a pretty good case for using Skype instead of flying faculty and grad students around North America to (usually) northern cities in early January:
[S]ome history departments like mine have tried Skype to do initial screening interviews, and I think that it is a much more humane and effective method of seeing who is best for the job. At first, I thought that using Skype was useful because it is free, but that we should return to the AHA when the economy improves. But now I feel that interviewing via Skype is a better way to find the best job candidates.
Why? Because job-seekers are not required to travel across the country and the world to pay for the opportunity to be interviewed, and they have more control over the presentation of self. Instead of all the candidates appearing relatively the same in a sterile environment, the job candidates interview in their own offices or even kitchens, taking the opportunity to position themselves to best advantage.
I’m with her entirely–using Skype saves everyone’s time, money, and carbon emissions to boot. And I think the arguments about the greater economic justice for using Skype make it an absolute slam-dunk. I’ve been on search committees that wanted to inteview people at the American Historical Association’s annual convention, but because of a candidate’s recent surgery, recent or impending childbirth, or perhaps because of plain ol’ poverty, some prospects were unable to meet with us there.
But with respect to Lubamersky’s last point about the charm of seeing people in their home or work environments–I’m a little whingy about considering that at all when considering someone for a job: Continue Reading »