As the department chairperson who is trying to fill an open academic position in their department, interviewing qualified applicants is critical. The question is how do you go about doing the interview?
With the long reach of the Internet, a school can share an opening with only a few key strokes on a computer for academic positions. Since you want to find the best person who can effectively manage the academic responsibilities and work well with other individuals in their position, how far can you extend your search to find the best person?
If an interview is part of the academic hiring process, does this limit your selection of applicants who live in the area? Does this limit your selection of applicants who can afford to meet with the search committee on a specific date and time (what can an applicant that has other responsibilities at that time, or lives out of town and cannot afford to pay the travel expense for the interview)?
Since you have reached out to search for the best person using the Internet, can you reach out using the Internet to interview applicants for this academic position? You probably have communicated with your applicant by e-mail so what is the challenge using the Internet?
Using applications such as Skype or Tango (plus many more), why can’t an initial online interview be conducted? If your academic interview panel has multiple members, serve the interview up as a webinar where the applicant is the speaker and everyone can ask questions, listening to the answers while observing the applicant’s reactions.
Since the position you are trying to fill is important to your department, don’t be guilty of overlooking some of the best people because the methods being used at your university are “old-school”. Working with your university human resource department, explore new ways to bring the best people into your department.
Rich Gerstin is the founder of The Asheforde Group and is the head of math department at Brown Mackie College, Atlanta
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