While we are experiencing an unprecedented situation, successful faculty hiring remains critical to the success of the University. It also is critical that we protect the safety of all involved in searches and that we conduct them fairly. At this point, the University is recommending that schools do not conduct in-person interviews with faculty candidates. Deans and department chairs must use their best judgment in light of competing concerns. When possible, it is best to use the same process for all candidates under consideration. Differing processes can affect the fairness, both perceived and real, of a search. If it is not possible to use the same process, such as in cases where some applicants have already interviewed in person, steps should be taken to ensure that the online interviews for the remaining candidates mirror the in-person experience as much as feasible. The Office of the Provost is strongly encouraging hiring officials to conduct candidate interviews through our existing video conferencing technology.
Currently, UMBC is using WebEx video conferencing technology.
- For more information on Webex video conferencing or to create an account, click here.
Steps to Conduct a Video Conferencing Interview
SETTING UP A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW
- Interviews are scheduled by stakeholders and Search Committees.
- Clarify with the candidate that the Search Committee Chair will initiate the call.
- Prior to the interview day, contact the candidate to identify if any reasonable accommodations will be necessary to participate in an online format.
- Test the technology to ensure webcam, voice quality, room acoustics/ambient noise, and any other issues can be addressed.
- Provide for contingency plans, having the candidate’s phone number to reach them should the technology fail.
Treat the interview as if it were an on-site interview. Best practice would follow these recommendations:
- Follow the same on-campus guidance of asking the same set of questions to each candidate.
- Develop and share an interview schedule with breaks for candidates in our online visits.
- Create environment with minimal distractions
- Avoid utilizing personal devices during the interview.
- Treat video interviews with the same seriousness as in-person interviews. Know the job description, the candidate’s resume and specific questions to ask. Choose a quiet, well-lit room for interviews. Make sure all parties have the correct interview time on their calendar, properly adjusting for different time zones. Share with candidates how to access the videoconferencing technology and whether software needs to be downloaded.
- Give candidates advance notice that interviews will be conducted virtually. Give them context for why you’re using video interviewing, and very specifically give guidance about the experience and what’s expected from the interview.”
- For group/committee interviews, where there are multiple people participating:
- Decide who will be the moderator for the interview. You might consider having a “script” to follow, so that each member of the group understands their role.
- Decide whether or not all candidates will have their video on for the entire interview, or have their video on only when speaking with the candidate.
- All participants should keep their mics on “mute” unless they are speaking.
- Please greet each candidate and introduce yourself, turning on your camera and mic to speak. Leave your camera on until the candidate’s response to your question is complete. Thank the candidate before turning off your camera.
- All committee members should have cameras & mics off until it is their turn to ask a question.
- Use the “raise your hand” function to respond to candidate questions; turn on your video and mic when speaking.
- Try – as much as possible – to project interest, engagement, etc. when you are on camera. Do your best to build rapport and connection, despite the remote setting. Keep in mind that you are in “evaluation and recruitment” mode.
- If using WebEx, please do not “chat” during the session, as these messages have the potential to go away if sent to the wrong people. If you need to jump in, use the “raise your hand” function, so that the moderator can recognize you.
- If there is a presentation required, make sure that “screen share” is enabled for the candidate, and/or a copy of the presentation is provided to each member of the Committee. If there is a need to record the interview, please make sure to get the candidate’s written permission.
CONSISTENCY AND EQUITY IN ONLINE INTERVIEWS
Try to ensure as similar an online experience as possible for all candidates, in particular when an ongoing selection process already was partially conducted in-person but now the remainder of the process has to be conducted online.
- Maintain Consistent Stakeholder/Search Committee Participation
- The same people who met (or would meet) with candidates in-person should also meet with candidates during online interviews. For example, if the interviewee met (or would meet) with the Department Chair individually and with the Search Committee as a group, the same should be true of the online interview.
- If for some reason an individual from the search committee or a stakeholder group is not able to participate in an online format, this change and the rationale should be documented in the search file. This is the same approach as with any circumstance where the composition of the committee might change for some reason.
- Ensure Substantially Similar Agendas
- The length, order, questions, and types of interactions (formal interview and stakeholder meetings) should be maintained as similarly as possible to in-person interviews.
- Formal interview questions, or question theme areas, and the basis for the evaluation of responses (i.e., a rubric) should always be created in advance of an interview and this also is required for the online format.
- Where a process already was underway and it is no longer possible for candidates to meet with certain individuals in an online format, the reasonable justification for this should be documented.
- Informal discussions that previously would have occurred between a candidate and the committee or stakeholder groups in situations, such as over coffee or lunch, are most prone to a process perception bias as informal discussions may feel more “formal” in an online setting. To mitigate the potential difference in perceptions of certain communication and behavioral competencies, and/or perceptions of concepts such as “collegiality,” stakeholder groups should be reminded of the possibility for such biases on the basis of the interaction medium, and all participants promptly should be given structured feedback mechanisms after the interaction that focus on the specific type of feedback being requested in relation to their evaluation of job- related criteria.
- Maintain An “Interview Day” Contact/Guide
- During in-person interviews, it is common to have individuals who help candidates stay on time, navigate different meeting locations, and answer basic questions about life at the University.
- If a contact/guide would have been involved in the process, an individual should still be available to support the candidate in ensuring they have all of the appropriate links for the separate online meetings that will be hosted and to help communicate to UMBC officials if some interviews have gone over time or if there are other issues of which they should be aware.
- When sending the agenda to a potential candidate, a best practice would be to include the links for each “meeting room” at the outset of the process.
- Evaluate The Candidate And Not The Technology/Medium
- A candidate’s issues with the technology, internet connections, background scenery (some candidates may not have easy access to dedicated quiet space), or familiarity with a technology should not be factored into the selection decision. In most instances, such issues are not job-related and would not have been a consideration for in-person interviews.
- Common non-verbal communication factors may be more difficult to assess and/or become a point of hyper- focus in an online format. Specifically, perceptions about a candidate’s “eye-contact” and level of engagement with the audience will be different in an online format and interviewers should be sure to evaluate candidates on the content of their answers and presentations, not their online performance acumen.
STRIDE would like to acknowledge the University of Virginia, whose guidelines provided a model for UMBC’s COVID19 Virtual Faculty Interviewing Best Practices.