Skype Academic Interviews – What (Not) to Do

19 March 2015, 1259 EDT

Hi all!  File this post under “unsolicited advice from a newbie DGS.”  Here are my tips on how to not crash-and-burn on a Skype interview:

  1. Take a professional picture and make sure your Skype handle is professional – this might be the perfect time to set up an alternative, work-related Skype account.
  2. DON’T have a mood listed. No one wants to see that you love pirates or pigs or whatever at this stage.
  3. Be on early and make sure Skype is set up as online.
  4. Dress professionally – get your dog, bike, etc out from behind you – you can take a sample picture right from Skype so you can see what they see.
  5. Close everything else off of your computer – it’s ok to have printed notes in front of you – it is not ok to stare at the screen because you are reading off of your notes on the screen.
  6. Unless explicitly asked – wait for them to call you – they are probably doing a series of calls and it could be running late – if they are more than 15 minutes late – email them.
  7. Know everyone’s face and be able to match it with names (webpages are a big help here).
  8. Be prepared to answer on both research and teaching.
  9. Realize there may be more people in the room that you are not aware of. Don’t ask questions you don’t want the whole department aware of (ie don’t ask something about Crazy Colleague X).
  10. Academics are awkward. Full stop.  Expect awkward pauses – be sure not to interrupt.
  11. Have some questions prepared of your own – similar questions to what you would ask on an on-campus interview
  12. Be prepared for technical difficulties – you know how often faculty flub up getting powerpoint to work – it’s going to be ten times worse.
  13. There might be weird dynamics going on on the other end that have nothing to do with you – don’t take it personally.
  14. Completely close down and power down your computer as soon as the interview is over – Skype has a tendency to give 2-3 seconds “extra” after a call is over – you don’t want them to hear you scream (or you don’t want to hear them scream/laugh – this actually happened to me once).
  15. For tenure-track job, the goal at this stage may not be to “win” as much as just to “make it in the top 3.” Knowing this may help your stress level.   However, for visiting positions, this might be the only stage.  Bring your A-game!