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I am part of a faculty search committee. One round of our process is Skype interviews of top candidates. Not all of our committee will be able to attend each interview (even remotely).

Would it be appropriate to ask candidates if we can record their Skype interview to share among the committee? My concern is that candidates might not feel free to say no if they're uncomfortable being recorded.

In case it matters, this is in the United States.

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  • It just seems a bad idea overall. Will the absent committee members even have time to watch recorded interviews? It's also a privacy issue. Mar 28, 2019 at 6:25

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There may be more issues than you raise here. Some people will say yes and feel intimidated. Some people will say no out of general principles. Some people will say yes and regret it later. Some people will say yes initially but decide otherwise in the middle of the interview.

I suggest that before you implement such a process you game it out thoroughly, developing a lot of what-if scenarios and how you will respond to them. I think an essential element, possibly with legal ramifications (though I don't know), is that you don't disadvantage anyone for giving either answer or for declining to give a reason.

Another possible issue is that some candidates may not be as candid as they would otherwise if they are being recorded. It isn't a case of being devious or calculating, just being cautious. Can my words come back to haunt me?

You will also need to decide what to do with the tapes and when to delete them and how to assure the candidate that you will do so, especially if requested. In particular, who will have access to the tapes and for how long?

Finally, if you develop a policy with a lot of nuances, you should publish it, probably online, and let the candidate have access to it prior to an interview.

But, overall, I'd suggest that in the case you mention of not everyone being available, that you make it possible for a follow up interview rather than taping. There are probably other issues here that I haven't considered.

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  • Of course it is understood that you'll be disadvantaged if you say no, no matter what the policy says. Otherwise there is never a good reason to say yes. Even if (hopefully) declining the recording simply means that you'll have to undergo more interviews with other committee members, this is still a disadvantage.
    – Zeus
    Mar 28, 2019 at 1:24
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Buffy gives an excellent, and pretty comprehensive answer. I have one consideration to add:

What message does it send to the candidate about your institution, that your entire committee is not available (even remotely) to attend the interview?

Perhaps it tells the candidate that the position is not terribly important to you.

Or that your institution is not organized enough to interview the right number of candidates, or include the right people on the committee.

If I'm a candidate for a job, there are rituals I'm used to encountering. If you disrupt the rituals, even with what seems like "good reason" on your end, it's possible you will inadvertently discourage the better candidates.

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    Almost always at least 10 candidates are given a Skype interview; interviewing 30 is common; I have heard of interviewing 80. The point of the Skype interview is to give as many candidates as possible to make an impression on the committee. Real interviews for a small number are held later and taken more seriously. The position is important, but, with those numbers, no particular candidate is. Frankly, it would be impossible to schedule all of the search committee for 15 hours of interviews. Mar 28, 2019 at 0:52
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    @AlexanderWoo That sounds to me like the problem is that the committee can't figure out how to delegate and divide responsibilities. If you're just doing these as a filter you don't need the entire committee in on it in the first place. All you need is enough of the committee there to make a basic decision on whether someone is qualified to move on to the next round or not. You don't need the full committee until you need the full committee. Mar 28, 2019 at 2:08
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    @Alexander: Although I believe you that someone skyped with 80 people for a position, I do not believe that it was a good idea. If I were an applicant, I would rather that I and everyone else only be interviewed for positions for which we were seriously considered. Mar 28, 2019 at 4:10
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    @AlexanderWoo Interviewing 80 people for a position is a waste of time for 79 applicants and for all of the interview panel. With a large number of applicants, you just raise the triage bar until you have an acceptably small number to interview. The number interviewed should ideally be constant, whether you have 10 applicants or 1000. Mar 28, 2019 at 5:29
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    When you have a lot of applicants, raising the triage bar is meaningless - the difference between the best looking applicant and the 50th best looking applicant will be just noise. Maybe the right thing to do is to randomly throw all but 100 applications in the trash and evaluate just those 100. (But let me make it clear that I don't advocate interviewing 80, and I also agree there's no need for every preliminary interview to be looked at by every committee member.) Mar 28, 2019 at 6:25

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