There's a funny thread going on at Leiter the past few days about the prospect of Skype interviews replacing in-person interviews at the APA. The advantages of Skype are obvious and obviously decisive: they are less costly; do not require candidates or interviewers to travel across state lines; do not require people to cram all 12 interviews into a two-day period; are better for the environment; provide for greater flexibility in holiday travel plans; reduce the likelihood that you will be stranded by a blizzard or that you will be involved in a hotel fire; et cetera.
The advantages of interviewing at the Eastern APA meeting are more difficult to state in a precise and fair manner. There's no substitute for meeting face-to-face, and we've been doing it this way for as long as anyone can remember. One guy seems to think that we should keep doing the APA thing because when his wife tried to find a job in the "private sector," it was costly and stressful--she had to buy new clothes, print out and mail application materials, stuff like that. Another guy seems to think that the proponents of Skype interviews don't like the E-APA because they are too chicken to attend philosophy conferences at all. Another guy says he doesn't see what the big deal is because our line of work is flexible and so you can see your family lots of times of year besides the holidays. (Maybe some of these are the same guy. Too lazy to look it up.)
These are, of course, really stupid reasons. I think the analogy with "private sector" jobs is instructive, actually. Suppose you live in Omaha and you're applying for a job with a firm in Salt Lake City. Suppose the holidays are coming up, and you were hoping to take your spouse and your offspring to spend a holiday traditionally and typically regarded by Americans as extremely important with your parents in Charlotte. Suppose the Salt Lake City people call you up and say that they want to interview you, but they want you and the other candidates to spend your own money to fly to Boston, stay at the Marriott in Copley Square where they've reserved a block of rooms, and that they're interviewing only on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of December so they hope you didn't make any firm holiday plans. Suppose they say, other firms will be holding interviews in Boston, too, so maybe, if you're lucky, you'll be flying to Boston for more than just this one interview. Suppose that they also say that although they realize that Boston is one of the oldest and most historic cities in America, they want you to keep your evenings free because a crucial and mandatory part of the interview process is a reception they're holding in a weird crowded bar where Bud Lights cost $11 and where you will be required to wander around, waiting for an opportunity to sit down with them and maybe some of your competitors to schmooze and bullshit for a while.
I think this arrangement sounds fucking crazy. I think that when I tell non-philosophers about how the job market works, they think it sounds fucking crazy. And that's because it is fucking crazy. It is fucking crazy. I realize that the APA interview has been the standard thing, but we live in the future and we have video phones like in the Jetsons.
Obviously, Skype is not perfect. Things can go wrong. But come on. Things can go wrong with anything--even flying to Boston in the dead of fucking winter. And are you really so worried about the technical difficulties involved with Skype that you'd rather avoid them by spending your own money to fly to Boston the day after Christmas so you can meet the Salt Lake City people face-to-face in a crowded ballroom in the Marriott Hotel in Copley Square? No, you're not.
P.S. Happy New Year!