Is it standard practice to interview local job applicants over videoconference?
March 8, 2006 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Is it standard practice for an employer to interview a current employee (who works face to face with them every day) over a webcam?

I have been the acting director of my department for the last seven months while a nationwide job search has been going on for a permanent replacement.

The search committee narrowed the list of candidates down to four - three folks from out of state and me. I know everyone on the search committee.

Since they can't afford to fly in the three out of state folks, they chose to interview them over videoconference.

To "make it fair" to the three out of state applicants, my boss, the head of the committee, had them set up a camera in an office (which overlooked the room where the committee was doing the interviews) and conducted their interview with me over camera as well. At the end of the interview, my boss asked me to come downstairs and say hi to everyone.

The whole thing seemed absurd to me, but I recognize that interview procedures change all the time.

So, is this a normal practice these days? Do other businesses do this?
posted by Joey Michaels to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Seems kind of kooky. We (US DoD) do phone interviews when candidates are not local. I can't imagine how they thought this somehow put you on equal footing.
posted by fixedgear at 5:37 PM on March 8, 2006

Given that they have to make a fair choice between the candidates, I think it's reasonable. You got the advantage because you got to come down and meet them in person.

Maybe they're doing you a favor by "equalizing" the interview process, therefore other candidates can't claim a bias.

I agree it's a little out of the ordinary, but it seems to me like their intentions are fair.

Good luck!
posted by jerryg99 at 5:53 PM on March 8, 2006

It just seems a little over accommodating..... shouldn't there be a bias because you are already working in the position? It would be like making everyone wear a potato sack so everyone looks equally (un) professional at the interview.... they should be looking for the best candidate, how they interview is incidental.
posted by haplesschild at 6:01 PM on March 8, 2006

I guess it does seem a strange thing to do, but I guess they were only trying to be fair. I was recently interviewed for a job where the majority of applicants were interstate (including me), so they conducted phone interviews with everyone, rather than giving the "local" people in-person interviews and only giving the remote people phone interviews.
posted by Jimbob at 6:04 PM on March 8, 2006

Seems like the urge to "make it fair" went haywire. There's no legal reason for them to do this. I've never heard of the practice for job interviews. Chalk it up to "weird" and just try your best, I suppose.
posted by frogan at 6:10 PM on March 8, 2006

If I were your employer, given the same circumstances, I most likely would have done the same thing. They want to hire the best person; they want the interview process to be as fair and objective as possible. We've done something similar at my place of employment.
However, the fact that you knew them probably put you at an advantage. Most people are not use to videoconferencing, and are stressed by it. Add the stress of an interview ... with people you don't know ... it's hard to present your best side. You were likely less stressed by this "objective" process and, if you were at least as qualified as the other candidates, you should easily have done better during this interview.
posted by aroberge at 6:14 PM on March 8, 2006

It sounds to me like they're sensitive to the fact that it's very different talking to someone on a screen than it is when they're in the same room. Like the difference between watching a movie or going to a play, for instance. There's sometimes an intangible something else when you're interacting with someone face-to-face in the same room. They're worried that that extra something else might unfairly tip the scales in your favor.

It may seem weird, but the geek in me says environment variables like these could have a profound (albeit subconscious) psychological impact. Unusual? Yes. But harmless, and fair.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:26 PM on March 8, 2006

The whole thing sounds very Harrison Bergeron ... if you're going all that way to be fair then surely they shouldn't have let you meet people in person afterward?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:17 PM on March 8, 2006

I think what they're doing is dotting their I's and crossing their T's. I would guess that they have already decided to hire you, but they're being scrupulously careful about making the interview process 'fair'.

They didn't wnt to spend the money to fly their other candidates out...which says to me that they're not that serious, but they are required to interview for the position. Doing it this way lets them save the cash and be 'fair' about the hiring decision, yet lets them hire the person they actually want... you.

That's my guess, anyway. Please don't be crushed if I'm wrong.
posted by Malor at 8:29 PM on March 8, 2006

It's a bit of a mockery of "fairness". They're correcting the slight advantage of in-person interviews but ignoring the huge elephant in the room... that they already know you! They probably didn't even need to do an interview to evaluate you and there's no way to make that fair.
posted by smackfu at 8:53 PM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks all for your responses. I'll let you know if I get the job or not back in this question in a day or two.

I am relieved to know my employers are not totally insane. Knowing that other companies do this makes it much more acceptable to me.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:41 AM on March 9, 2006

I've seen our hiring committee get extremely paranoid about fairness and equal opportunity stuff, so sadly this doesn't strike me as freakishly unusual.
posted by craniac at 5:29 AM on March 9, 2006

What Malor said--it sounds like a mock search, to install the inside person. Our department does this too, intentionally sabotaging searches so they can hire someone local and underqualified. Not that you are unqualified.
posted by craniac at 5:30 AM on March 9, 2006

If they are under any sort of EEO consent decree and have to watch for appearances of bias related to race, sex, etc then they might have done this. Do you know the races and sexes of the other three candidates? How do they compare to yours? They might have wanted to be extra careful before they pass over a minority woman to hire a white male, for example.
posted by alms at 6:48 AM on March 9, 2006

Response by poster: Got the job, FYI. Apparently, they were trying to make the hiring process as rigorous as possible so that they wouldn't be just "handing" me the job.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:18 PM on March 15, 2006

« Older Checking grammar in HTML files?   |   Should I pay to fly to an interview? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.