Skype interviews may well be preferable, overall, to APA interviews. But I do think we need to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of both. Cost and inconvenience aside, I think that in-person interviews are *clearly* better than Skype interviews. Basically, I think this follows sort of a priori from the fact that in-person conversations are clearly better than phone Skype conversations. There's a reason we don't Skype our colleagues down the hall. I also have (very limited) empirical evidence of this, having had both APA and Skype interviews. In many ways, my Skype interview was quite positive, so if anything I should be biased towards that interview format. But there were a couple of significant downsides:
First, even though I'm pretty technically adept and almost never have trouble with Skype, there were repeated technical difficulties. I sort of laughed them off, but if I were only a bit more anxious about the interview those glitches could have thrown me off quite a bit. Second, I couldn't really clearly see the faces of the people interviewing me, since they were so small on the screen. This had three unfortunate effects: it made it difficult to interpret some things (was that a good natured joke, or are they annoyed with what I said, or what?). Second, if I run into one of them at a conference or something I will not recognize them, which is awkward. And third, it just make the whole thing a bit more "abstract". Even though there was video, it was a *bit* like teleconferencing. Anyway, I'm pretty convinced that the interview would have been significantly better (not necessarily for my job prospects, but as a human interaction) if it were in person.
So: I think we need to assess how expensive and inconvenient APA interviews are for job seekers and hiring departments. Most of the focus has been on inconveniences for job seekers, but the lucky among us will probably conduct more APA interviews than we sit through. Basically, all I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't ignore the inconvenience to hiring committees. In any case, my graduate institution paid my way to the APA. How common is that? If it is almost universal, then while it would suck to be one of the few whose grad department doesn't pay, such is life. (Some grad departments have lots of money for conference travel, some don't. Some require a lot of teaching, some require none. Etc. Pick a grad school carefully.) The other question is about inconvenience. I have no idea how to measure that. And having the prospect of APA interviews lurking is *very* inconvenient. But *if* my trip to the APA were being paid for by someone else, I think I would choose an inconvenient APA interview over a Skype interview. But I have no idea how representative this preference is. I also don't know if this is the kind of thing that it makes sense to settle democratically, by survey or vote or something, or whether we should focus on protecting the vulnerable people whose trip to the APA won't be paid for by someone else, no matter how few in number they are.-- Jaded, Ph.D.