This guidance has been developed to help support line managers in carrying out remote recruitment.
This is in the context of the University's approach towards hybrid working.
- Share the contact number of one of the panel members so that the candidate can call in case they have any last-minute difficulties.
- Discuss with the panel beforehand a strategy for the online interviews.
- For example, it really helps to agree a 'script' in advance (ie. who will say/ask what, in what order, for how long) and to agree policy among the panel on follow-up questions, moving between speakers.
- Decide on which technology to use to conduct interviews and the format of the interview prior to contacting interviewees.
- Schedule interviews ensuring there is enough time for breaks for panel members.
- When inviting candidates to the interview give them as much information as possible:
- Date and time (including time zone) of interview
- Technology you will use
- Link/joining instructions to the interview
- Instructions on how to download/access the software
- Format of the interview and what is required of the candidate (e.g. question and answer – will questions be sent in advance, presentation etc.)
- Basic instructions on how to use the technology (e.g. how to change their view so they can see all panel members, how to blur their background)
- Offer candidate the option for an online meeting prior to the interview to test out the technology and their connection.
- Schedule spare interview slots in case candidates need to rearrange due to their time zone or if they have a last minute connection problem.
- Consider which video conferencing software will be best for the interviews.
- Library staff have used Zoom for online interviews for the following reasons:
- candidates are more likely to be familiar with Zoom,
- the ‘Waiting Room’ feature, candidates can stay in the ‘Waiting Room’ until the panel is ready and the interview is due to start – ensure this setting is selected when scheduling the Zoom meeting,
- it offers an option to “dial in” should there be a problem with internet connection.
- Using software accessibility features such as live transcription (available in Zoom).
- Sharing interview questions with candidates in advance.
- Candidates may not have access to an “office” environment in which to attend the interview.
- Candidates may not have access to a device/high quality internet connection in order to take part in an online interview so an alternative solution may have to be sought.
- As always, check if there are any adjustments needed e.g. for candidates with disabilities.
Tips for a good online interview
- What works best for face-to-face interviews may not be the same for online interviews. Bear this in mind when setting tasks or planning the interview format.
- Mute your microphone when you are not talking if there is background noise, or if you are typing notes.
- Keep your cameras on when the candidate is presenting or talking so they can see the panel.
- Be aware of audio delays and be careful not to talk over each other.
- To avoid talking over each other it helps to agree a strategy for the panel. For example, if you asked a question, after the candidate finishes their answer, ask the rest of the panel if they wanted to add/ask anything, before handing over to the next panel member to ask their question etc.
- Check that the candidate can hear and see each panel member and vice-versa at the beginning of the interview.
- Remind candidates at the start of the interview that they will not be scored on their knowledge of the technology or for technological issues.
- Reassure the candidate that if they experience any technological issues they should pause and explain to the panel what the problem is and the panel will help solve the problem or suggest an alternative.
People and Organisational Development guidance for managers
The Directorate of People and Organisational Development StaffNet pages have a number of useful resources related to recruitment and induction:
- Directorate of People and Organisational Development: How to conduct a video interview
- Directorate of People and Organisational Development: Interviewing guidance
- University of Manchester Video Conferencing: Zoom webpages
- There were five shortlisted candidates with an hour set aside for each interview (45 minutes max for interview, 15 mins break).
- Candidates were emailed the Zoom link a week in advance, with interview etiquette (tailored for candidates from University's People & OD) and a presentation question (5 minutes max., no slides). The panel chair’s personal meeting room on Zoom was used.
- Candidates were advised to log in two minutes before scheduled start time and wait in the ‘Waiting Room’. Candidates were let into the meeting room when the panel were ready.
- Panel chair introduced panel members, explained etiquette and advised of interview format as usual.
- When interview finished, panel chair closed the meeting for all.
- Panel then met in a concurrent Teams Meeting to discuss candidates (ensuring no risk of overlap or Zoom bombing).
- This process worked very well – occasional background noises helped to break the ice!
- Two candidates had issues with audio initially (they couldn’t hear the panel) but these were resolved within a couple of minutes.
- Allowing time for breaks for the panel was key.
- The panel met at 9.30am (on Teams) to clarify running order etc. Interviews were held at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. In most cases, there was plenty of time for a conversation and a break between candidates.
- The panel took a break after the final interview before 4pm and reconvened (on Teams) at 4:30 having had time to consider the candidates and look at their scores.
- Decisions and offers were made to candidates by phone as usual.
- We used Zoom to conduct the interviews and set up the Zoom links when we scheduled the interviews so we could share them with the candidates in the invite email.
- We used a separate Zoom link for each interview and ensured the ‘Waiting Room’ function was enabled.
- The interview schedule with relevant Zoom links for each candidate was shared with the panel.
- The interviews were 35 minutes long with a minimum 10 min break in between, panel members joined the Zoom meeting before the Chair admitted the candidate.
- If the candidate was early to the interview, a panel member would send a holding message to the candidate in the waiting room.
- At the start of the interview, Chair invited panel members to introduce themselves and the Chair outlined the structure of the interview. The candidate and panel confirmed they could all see/hear each other without any issues.
- We asked candidates to give a two minute presentation using one slide – this worked really well as it broke the ice – we had to make the candidates co-hosts to share their screen.
- We also said don’t worry if you have any technical difficulties, just pause and let us know and we’ll stop the clock and try and find a solution together.
- The Chair emailed candidates with the questions about 30 minutes in advance – we have been doing this in TLS for a while but I think it was even more important in an online interview. We really felt we got the best out the candidates this way and it took some of the Zoom pressure off candidates and there weren’t any cases of candidates mishearing or misunderstanding the question.
- It was a lot for the Chair to juggle if they had to email candidates with the questions whilst in an interview so when we interviewed for the Library Student Team we had a non-panel member take on this role.