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Interviewing via Skype

Interviewing via Skype

Spring seems to be the time of interviewing for new calls to churches around the country. More and more search committees are using Skype or FaceTime/iChat for initial interviews. Take this opportunity to present yourself at your best. As an interim an d often the most techy person in the area – I have had a chance to observe some of these. Often I think – what are they thinking? Bad lighting, no make up, clothes that don’t fit properly, not testing one’s computer and camera before the interview to name just a few things. Maybe you think being spiritual is enough – but you are applying for a leadership position and want to give people confidence in you.

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein aka Peace Bang of Beauty Tips for Ministers blog offered this still excellent advice back in 2011 when asked, “What do I wear for an interview on Skype?” Her reply:

Have someone call you on Skype and practice just having a normal conversation. The really important thing, I think, is to make sure you’re on camera at a good angle. I can look just like a mule at certain angles and I make sure to set the thing up in advance of the call to check out that I can sit up, look pleasant and feel normal (well, as normal as Skype allows!).

Check the lighting where you will be sitting, as shadows can throw your face into darkness as you speak: very disconcerting. Make sure the background is pleasant: you don’t want a Search Committee seeing you in your kitchen or a cluttered study. Choose a nice place and put a vase of tulips or something on the table. Maybe place a mug of tea at your side (you can reach for it now and then if you need something to do with your hands). Practice your smile. Wear something that frames your face nicely – nothing white and nothing black. Something that doesn’t show a lot of chest skin, which doesn’t look nearly as nice on camera as a beautiful fabric. I would keep the fabric solid, as a busy print tires the eyes. Make sure your make-up looks good on camera, and check it in advance (I find that a really bright lipstick doesn’t show up as bright on Skype — and my usual neutral just looks dead).

To continue with a bit for the boys and the girls: MAKE SURE YOU TRIM NOSE HAIRS! Seriously, one tilt of your laptop and everyone is looking straight up your schnoz. That’s why it’s so important to place the computer at a good angle and LEAVE IT THERE.

Double-check your face for crazy sticking-out hair or eyebrows, or fluffy things coming out of your ears or stuck in the corner of your eyes. Smile and check your teeth. Make sure there are no stains on your shirt. Don’t sit at an angle that makes you look all squishy — put the computer up on something so that you’re actually looking level at it and not down into it. Trust me: no one looks good looking down into a computer camera. We all look like horses peeking over the fence nosing around for a cube of sugar.

Do not, under any circumstances, allow distractions during the interview process. Do not get up “for a sec” and leave the committee or individual staring into your room waiting for you to come back. Think of your appearance as a true television appearance. Make sure there’s no curtain flowing in the breeze behind you, rattling of a furnace or any other “sounds on set.” Do not let the cat walk by the camera. Do not introduce your dog who just walked into the room. You are there to deliver the news, as it were, the good news of your good ministry — and to LISTEN ATTENTIVELY as the people on the other side of the camera ask, and respond to, questions.

Do not take notes. Do not type.

Do smile way more than you’re used to. It just looks much better on camera.

Do do some stretching and relaxing before the call, especially to relax your shoulders.

Do let us know how it goes so we can celebrate, laugh or mourn with you. These technological advances are great but they can be hell!

Blog quoted extensively by permission. More here and here.

What are your tips for interviewing electronically?


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Matthew Buterbaugh+

I did a Skype interview about three months ago (recently called to that parish). It was different than a phone interview. The most difficult part was staying still in one place for the whole time. I did dress for an interview and check the angles, lighting, etc. prior to starting.

In general, I liked this experience, because you can catch facial expressions, and you can see who you are talking to. I can foresee this being the standard medium for interviews in the future.

Having said that, considering how technology has changed this process, I wonder if we need to rethink some of our old standards for interviews. For instance, is it necessary for a search committee to fly to a prospective priest’s parish to hear him/her preach when you can already hear/watch sermons online? It seems like a large time and money commitment for something that can be largely handled through technology. Of course, there still could be something said for seeing that priest in her/his element.

I would be curious to hear the perspectives of those who have been on search committees and hear what they thought was helpful/unnecessary.


Great piece. See my comment over at Discernment Doctor blog:

Like other parts of the discernment process, Skype unintentionally skews the dynamics. Search committees see nose hairs, clergy see dots.

Steve Ayres

All I can say after that is, thank God that Jesus didn’t have to pass an interview to be the Savior.

We’d have gotten some banker, undoubtedly.

-Mark Brunson

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