Over the years, I have participated in many telephone interviews of potential candidates for positions at Hofstra as well as for not-for-profit boards that I have participated on. Interviewing candidates in this way has always struck me as second best (but certainly better than not participating). Inevitably you miss much of the back and forth that takes place, you miss some of the reaction of the candidate and that of board members, and you seem somewhat out of sync with what is happening. In between interviews, at those times when there are multiple interviews scheduled, there are also typically multiple conversations of the board members present and here too it is very hard to participate in a meaningful way.
I have also participated in board meeting over the phone and have even participated in a few teleconference board meetings a number years ago. Phone board meetings have the same disjointed feel that interviews have, and the early teleconferencing was often somewhat of a blur with resolution that matched my vision when I’m not wearing glasses. And then there were those cases where the video and audio were not quite synchronized, which is just plain annoying. Or those cases where I needed to go to a special facility on campus to participate.
You can imagine how pleased I was when an academic consortium of provosts that the University belongs to, decided to interview three candidates for the executive director position by teleconferencing. The candidates and the present executive director would be at the home school of the consortium with that provost present, and two additional provosts, including me, would participate by teleconference. Of course, there was the alternative of traveling to Virginia but that would turn three hours worth of interviews into at least a full day away from the office.
Everything I needed was on a laptop on my desk and at the appointed hour of 5:15 I connected. There on the screen was the person being interviewed, the “home” provost and the present executive director, the other provost participating and me. All right in front of me, all crystal clear, and each of the three interviews and the conversations in between and at the end worked as well as if we were all there in person. Going forward, I will certainly make use of this capability much more frequently. And now that I think about it, since I have used “facetime” on an iPhone and iPad a number of times with good success, I don’t know why I was so reluctant in this case to take advantage of the benefits of technology. So much of what we do and especially how we do it has changed and overall the advantages clearly outweigh any disadvantages.