An anonymous Smoker writes with a question about an interview where one of the activities is a teaching demo that will be conducted over Skype. This Smoker wants to know if we've ever heard of this, and if we have any advice. Is this person dead in the water, compared with candidates who will be interviewing in person?
My two cents: I have never heard of this. I don't know if you're dead in the water, exactly, but I have to think you're at a definite and substantial disadvantage. I find it hard to imagine doing anything over Skype that would deserve to be called a "teaching demonstration." That said, if it were me, I think it would help me to prepare more effectively if I had some more details about how the thing is going to go. Are they going to beam my presentation onto a projection screen at the front of a classroom? Or am I just going to be performing for the search committee in isolation? If I'm performing for a class, is it going to be feasible/permitted for the students to stop me and ask questions, they way they would in an actual classroom? Is it going to be feasible for me to stop and ask them questions, the way I would in an actual classroom?
Secondly, if they're reading, and if I may, I'd like to address the search committee directly: this isn't a good idea. I understand why you want to try it--I understand how these things often work (at least, I think I do). You want to put everyone through the same process, which is good, and you might even have an HR rep who has required/demanded this. But please don't think that you're going to get any usable information about this person's teaching capabilities from this exercise. It's just too weird and awkward. It has no actual connection to the activity of real teaching, and the superficial similarities are only going to emphasize in this candidate's mind--and everyone else who is watching--how much what he or she is doing is not real teaching. If I were doing this, I would feel like I was in the Twilight Zone, and I'd be extremely surprised if I could manage to perform at anything close to my best. This procedure is not going to reveal whether the candidate can teach.
Lastly, I've been thinking about it more as I've been proofreading, and think I have some real, practical advice for the candidate. This might be stupid, but here goes. Do the demo in a real classroom. Get some people to help you, if you can--it'll be easier and will go more smoothly if you have help. Set up a webcam on a tripod near the front row of seats with the lens approximately at eye level for someone sitting at one of the desks. Make sure the camera can see the blackboard. Don't use powerpoint--it won't look good on video. Then, set up a projector and a screen in the center of the seating area, near the camera, and project their video feed onto the screen. My hope is that this might create the sense, however artificial, that the search committee is in the room with you. But! Know that when you look at the screen, the search committee will experience it as you looking at something mysterious off-camera that they can't see. If they're normal human beings, then they won't like it, so try not to do it very much. And when you look at the camera, the search committee will experience it as you making eye contact with them, so do that a lot. Make sure you have your "blocking" down--you want to know exactly where you can go and still be in the frame. Maybe put some masking tape down on the floor. You might also want to put actual people in the room to act as students--not sure. That might make it feel less crazy, but it might make it worse. Especially if they were to make noise or heckle you. On second thought, don't have other people in the room with you. That was a dumb idea.
Anyways, that's what I would do. If I were organized and could get the equipment. Good luck.
What say you, Smokers?