Many, if not most search committees now employ Skype interviews in their screening process. Skype interviews have replaced phone interviews and often replace site visits to the candidates current congregation. Skype technology offers a good approximation of a face to face interview without the cost of travel for a candidate or a search committee delegation.
Skype interviews have become ubiquitous in the secular world and a number of major publications and websites have published useful tips. Several of the best are listed below my summary of the most useful suggestions.
I have very limited personal experience to draw on, having participated in only one Skype interview. In that interview I discovered that it is very difficult for a candidate to read the body language of search committee members. When you spread a full search committee in a semicircle around one video camera, each member appears quite small on the candidate’s computer screen, making it very difficult for a candidate to read and respond to the body language of search committee members. The candidate, on the other hand, will appear as a head and shoulders shot on the search committee’s computer screen, where his/her facial expressions and hand gesture can be more easily read. This phenomena makes non-verbal communication rather one sided. I’d prefer to have a one to one conversation with a single search committee member that other search committee members could view.
According to the Skype tips links below, technical preparation is key.
- Make sure you computer connection is glitch free – hardwire is better than Wifi.
- Choose a good background for the camera shot – somewhere between too cluttered and a blank white wall.
- Check the lighting beforehand – you may want to add some lamps off camera to light your face, without shadows.
- Dress well in monochrome colors – black clergy shirts are fine, patterns are bad.
- Buy or borrow a higher quality video camera than the little one on the top of your laptop.
- Place the camera in front of the screen so you are looking into the camera while you are looking at the screen. Looking into the camera is the most important single tip.
- Place the camera and computer at eye level.
- Choose a location with no distractions – no other people, barking dogs, or background noise.
- I’m not sure about the makeup recommendations – that seems overkill to me.
Godspeed to all who will Skype interview. Let me know what other tips we might share with each other.