Skype technology saves hundreds of dollars in Oxford search

Jan. 01, 2013 @ 04:45 PM

Personnel searches aren’t what they used to be. Just ask the Oxford city commissioners.

A major innovation in their search for a city manager is Skype. The technology helps them get a better feel for the candidates while saving both time and money.

Skype is a free Internet service that allows the user to see and hear a person anywhere in the country and in many parts of the world. The parties at each end of the process must have a webcam and audio speakers in addition to Internet service.

Oxford Mayor Jackie Sergent and the city commissioners used the technique to conduct interviews with each of eight finalists for the city manager position. They used the large meeting room in the Richard H. Thornton Library, with its wall-mounted flat screen television and Internet service, for the interviews.

By connecting a laptop to the television, the mayor and commissioners were able to see and hear the candidates as interviews were conducted with each individually.

Interim City Manager Leonard Barefoot and Human Resources Director Carol Dorsey facilitated the process. Nikki Allen, the city’s receptionist, handled the technical side.

Without Skype, the city would have brought in selected candidates for interviews, paying for transportation, hotels and meals. Skype obviously cuts down on expenses, saving the city hundreds of taxpayers’ dollars.

In addition, face-to-face interviews would have been spread out over a period of days, or even weeks. Skype allowed them to be completed in one day.

“It’s a great way to speed up the process,” Sergent said. “It was a good way for the entire board to get a sense of the group.”

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