This week I did a phone screen interview over Skype, with video. I was so pleased with how it went that I never want to do a regular phone screen again. I am not a big fan of interviewing people over the phone or being interviewed over the phone.
The biggest problem with doing technical interviews over the phone is that when you ask hard questions, the subject of the interview has to think about their answer, and may even need to write things down to get their answer together. When you’re talking on the phone, nothing is conveyed. There’s an awkward silence punctuated by the interviewer letting the interviewee know that it’s OK that they’re not talking while they think about it. People get more nervous, and I think it hurts the quality of their answers.
When you have video up and running during the interview, the visual contact makes pauses seem less awkward. That’s a plus.
The other problem that Skype solves is that it provides text chat as well. Some questions are a lot easier to ask when you can paste some code into the chat window and ask the person you’re interviewing to look at it. On phone screens, I’ve been known to email things to the other person during the interview, but having the text chat running alongside the Skype call is really useful.
And finally, when you have video you can get a sense of the other person’s body language. I find I really miss that in regular phone screens.
The Skype interview went so well that I’m going to suggest it for all of my phone screens in the future. Using the phone for phone screens seems archaic.