A few years ago I was asked an interesting question about whether it would be acceptable to host an interview a candidate for a job via Skype as she was on holidays at the time. Back then I refused as I wasn’t sure whether it would be an acceptable way of interviewing. The question, however, comes up from time to time still and I am in several minds about it. On the one hand, it seems like a really good way to be able to open up interviews to people who cannot travel to my school but on the other hand, isn’t that exactly what I’d like them to do to get the job? While I believe that interviewing via video-conference is done in certain sectors, I have a number of concerns around it. Apart from the obvious question of whether it would legally make the interview invalid, there are other factors.
One concern that make me sound like a luddite, is the element of trust. When I’m speaking to someone via video-conference, the camera they are using is pointing at their face and I cannot see anything else around them. What is to stop a friend from prompting in the background? What about the candidate having notes to refer to during the interview? Perhaps the latter is ok but it does add an extra dimension to proceedings. Another aspect, which might be important is how the candidate dresses and the lack of real eye contact and we’re all looking into a camera rather than faces.
There are practical concerns. A very real one in schools is a bad Internet connection. Worse, what if a connection is lost? The maximum bandwidth that primary schools have right now is 7Mb, which is only just about ok for a video-conference. I have yet to have a video conference where something doesn’t go slightly wrong at some point with a connection in school.
Other less concerning possibilities might be whether an interview could be swayed if, let’s say, there’s a baby is crying in the background or a someone walks into the candidate’s room while the interview is going on. There are lots of potential problems when the interviewers and interviewees are not physically in the same room with the outside world shut off.
While I believe they are a good idea in principle, because of all the potential pitfalls, I’m not sure if I’m ready to step into the foray of online interviewing until there is some solid advice from patron or government level about it.