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Coronavirus

Remote Interviewing

This page contains guidance on conducting remote interviews and selection. We appreciate that this is a challenging time and the landscape changes daily, therefore we will keep this guidance under continuous review. If you have any specific queries, please contact Human Resources. Please do consider the following practical points:

  • Where recruitment has been agreed in line with the amended approval process, the Recruitment and Selection policy remains applicable.
  • In-person training has been suspended during this period. Please contact Organisational and Professional Development (email: profdev@qmul.ac.uk) for more information about different training options available.
  • Given the current circumstances, candidates may not be looking for new job opportunities, therefore you may not attract a strong field of applications.
  • The selection process may be suboptimal. While you can carry out interviews online using Microsoft Teams or Skype, you will need to consider how to administer other selection methods such as tests, discussion groups or teaching demonstrations, which may be important to determine the suitability of the candidate for the role. See guidance on remote interviews below.
  • It will be important for you to communicate with job applicants at all stages of the process.
  • You may find that start dates for roles you recruit to fall during a period that the University is closed. In these circumstances, we are advising that the appointment should commence as normal. However, we recognise that there may be difficulties in allocating tools to new staff to enable them to work, as well as impacting on induction processes. Careful thought will need to be given to how this is managed. You will need to keep in very regular contact with employees working remotely. Daily catch-ups with new starters are recommended.
  • If you wish to suspend any current recruitment activity, please contact your HR Administrator so live adverts can be taken down and to obtain the template email communication to send to candidates.

Remote Interview Guidance - Key Principles

  • This guidance is intended for all staff involved in academic and non-academic recruitment.
  • The Recruitment & Selection Policy applies.
  • The recommended software for remote interviewing is MS Teams.
  • Selection panel members are strongly advised to practice/test MS Teams in advance of the scheduled interviews e.g. by holding a meeting together, particularly if one or more members has not used the software before. This would be a good opportunity to hold the pre-meeting and confirm the interview questions, rather than leaving these until the date of the interviews.
  • Please do not use the video record function to record interviews.
  • Please do not use the notes function to record interview notes as these will be visible to the candidate

Interview Set Up

  • A separate meeting must be set up for each interview to ensure that each candidate receives a different link and earlier candidates do not log back in and join the interviews of later candidates.
  • Likewise, a separate meeting should be set up at the end of the interviews for the panel discussion and decision-making.

Panel Composition

  • The composition of selection panels remains as outlined in the Recruitment & Selection Policy. Interview panels must comprise a minimum of three individuals and must still be gender diverse and ideally ethnically diverse.
  • All efforts should be made to constitute the panel in line with the policy. However if the Chair cannot find external panel members able and willing to participate via Microsoft Teams for Professor and Reader level appointments, then written comments can be sought on the applications instead. External academics who agree to provide written comments must be made aware that these will be disclosable to the candidates in the event of a subject access request under GDPR.

Assessments

  • It will be necessary to give careful consideration to the feasibility of any selection tasks or on the day assessments. Teaching tasks are unlikely to be possible. However, a ten minute presentation on a given topic at the start of an interview could still take place.
  • Timed administrative tasks such as in-tray exercises will require careful coordination (e.g. with a member of staff overseeing the task to introduce it to the candidate via MS Teams, to send the relevant documents via email and ensure they are received, to time the task and to receive completed documents back via email for assessment. The candidate would need to confirm in advance whether they have access to Microsoft Word/Excel etc.

Inviting Candidates

When inviting candidates to interview via MS Teams, you should establish that: 

  • They have a good internet connection
  • They can confirm a preferred email address to which a link to join the interview will be sent
  • They are able and willing to participate in the interview using MS Teams (and if not whether there are alternative remote options e.g. a conference call, that could be used effectively instead)
  • They will be able to speak for the duration of the interview without interruption
  • They can provide a phone number on which they may be contacted by a panel member during the interview if the internet connection is very poor or is lost completely

You may wish to offer a test meeting with each shortlisted candidate in advance of the interview. 

A Candidate Information Sheet is available in Appendix 1 and can be sent to the candidate once they have confirmed their scheduled interview slot.

Personal Preparation

Even when working from home, you are representing Queen Mary, therefore please ensure:

  • That you are in a quiet location and able to participate in the interview without interruption
  • That your computer is plugged into the mains or has full battery power.
  • That you are dressed appropriately to interview
  • That the room you are in is presentable to an external candidate, or that you use the “blur background” function.

Pre-meeting

Selection panel members should:

  • Join the meeting 15 minutes in advance of inviting the first candidate to join the meeting so that they can agree the interview questions and order with the other panel members (if not already agreed beforehand).
  • Ensure the video function is enabled and they can be seen by the other panel members.
  • Only speak if invited to do so by the Chair to prevent people talking over each other.
  • Mute themselves when not speaking to prevent feedback/background noise.

The candidate can either join the meeting at the scheduled interview time via the link they have been sent in their interview invite, or they can be invited to join the meeting once the panel is ready.

Interview

  • The Chair should start by welcoming the candidate and by setting out the structure of the interview.
  • The Chair should ask each member of the Selection Panel to introduce themselves. On MS Teams, this will allow the candidate to see each person as the video defaults to the people who have spoken most recently.
  • The Chair should consider and confirm how they intend to stop the candidate from speaking if their answer is too lengthy so as to ensure the interview keeps to time.
  • Panel members should look into the camera when speaking to replicate eye contact.
  • Panel members should ensure that they only ask one question at a time and allow the candidate enough time to consider their answer and respond.
  • Panel members should avoid interrupting as it will be harder to read visual cues over video and could cause confusion.

Taking interview notes

Panel members:

  • Must ensure their interview notes cannot be seen by the candidate e.g. via the video or by accidently sharing their desktop with the meeting members if taking notes in MS Word on their computer.
  • Must not use the MS Teams notes function as these notes will be visible to the candidates
  • Must remember that all interview notes (handwritten or electronic) are disclosable to the candidate under GDPR.
  • Destroy any interview documentation after six months in line with Queen Mary’s retention schedule.

Right to Work Checks

Right to Work checks still need to be undertaken before the first day of employment. There is new university guidance available on Right to Work checks during this period of remote working. Speak to HR for more information.

Appendix 1: Candidate Information Sheet

Your Queen Mary interview will take place via Microsoft Teams which is an online communication platform with a video-conferencing function. You can access MS Teams by downloading the app to your desktop or via the web browser. Please note that you will not need to pay for access to this software.  More information about joining a meeting via Microsoft Teams can be found on the Microsoft Support webpages.

Please follow the instructions below.

  • In preparation for your interview, please ensure that you have provided your preferred email address and telephone number. You will receive a link to join the interview as a “guest” to this email address. 
  • You should click the link to join the interview at your allocated interview time. 
  • If the internet connection fails or there are any other problems, a member of the interview panel will call you on your preferred telephone number.

We recommend that: 

  • You find a quiet, well-lit location for the interview, ideally where there is limited background noise.
  • You ensure that your computer is plugged into the mains or has full battery life.
  • You elevate your laptop so it is at face-level.
  • You remember to activate the video function and unmute yourself so that you can be seen and heard by the panel.
  • You can enable ‘live caption’ to show the interview questions written on the screen if you are having difficulty with audio.
  • You have a glass of water and a pen and notepad next to you.

Once you have joined the meeting, the Chair of the selection panel will take the lead and introduce the other panel members. 

Please do not use the video record function to record interviews.