Bringing a candidate to campus usually signifies the final stages of the interview process. This important recruitment milestone gives the candidate a chance to better understand your department and the campus community, while also helping search committee members move beyond initial impressions to determine if the candidate is a good fit for the position. In order for a candidate to interview in-person, proof of vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID test must be submitted to the hiring manager.
However, as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are times when alternate arrangements for in-person interviews are necessary. Fortunately, with web conferencing technology and a few best practices, you can continue to hold face-to-face interviews when in-person meetings aren’t possible.
Web Conferencing with Webex
Information Technology provides Webex as a secure platform for your virtual interviews. Webex is a well-known tool that’s easy to use, mobile-friendly and supported by Information Technology. You can provide candidates with a link to enter virtual interviews using the platform. Learn more about Webex.
Set Up the Interview
The search committee chair should agree on the format for conducting the interviews. There are two ways to host an interview in Webex: via a standard scheduled meeting or personal room. Standard scheduled meetings offer a unique URL and meeting number to share with candidates, who must have this information to join. A personal room allows you to use the same URL and access code for each virtual interview and offers the option to lock the meeting, so that no one else may enter. When deciding which option to choose, note that a standard scheduled meeting may be cumbersome if you have scheduled back-to-back interviews as your search committee will have to access a new URL and code each time. The one unique URL and code offered by personal rooms means you can simply lock others out until you are ready. Ultimately, the functionality of both options is the same once the meeting begins. Learn more about setting up a standard scheduled meeting or personal room.
Test Equipment Ahead of Time
Webex offers a test meeting space where anyone can join, test their audio and video, and even practice sharing their screen before giving a presentation. Encourage candidates and search committee members to use this test space to ensure their equipment is working correctly. If a candidate wants more reassurance, offer to schedule a brief practice run with them to put them at ease.
During the Interview
When the interview begins, ask search committee members to mute their microphones to reduce background noise. Consider having a member of the search committee host the meeting and play a facilitator role, to keep time, and remind the group when to mute and unmute mics to reduce feedback, and to funnel questions to the candidate in an orderly way. The meeting organizer also has the ability to set all people entering the space to be muted automatically, or to mute/unmute specific people once the meeting has begun. Learn more about muting and unmuting as a Webex host.
Recording the Interview
Consider recording the interview for those who can’t attend, or to refer back to when trying to make the final decision. If you plan to record the interview, obtain permission from the candidate prior to the meeting. Webex recordings saved to the cloud (default) can be found by going to Elon’s Webex interface. Once there, select Recordings. Note that depending on the length of the interview, the recording may take up to 24 hours to generate. When sharing the recording with others, be careful to only share with people who are a part of the selection process. Candidate interviews should never be made publicly available to people outside of Elon.
Remote Research/Scholarship/General Presentations
The process for setting up a research or scholarship presentation in Webex would work the same way as the interview portion. If the candidate has visuals to present, allow them to take over the screen and share their content.
Remote Teaching Demonstrations
If your department, like most at Elon, requires a teaching demonstration for faculty candidate interviews, consider asking candidates to adapt their class plans for a remote learning environment.
Although asking candidates to teach an online class session will not replicate the in-person teaching demonstration, search committee members can replicate and observe aspects of it by taking the following steps:
- Ask candidates to prepare and share materials for a class session (e.g., slides, learning activities, a lesson plan), then talk through those plans and their rationales with the committee and departmental observers
- Ask candidates to demonstrate a portion of their class session plan in a mock or adapted micro-teaching session for 10-15 minutes with faculty or student volunteers playing the role of students
- Supplement the discussion of a class plan or mock teaching session with other topics:
- Ask behavioral interviewing questions, such as:
- Can you describe a time when you taught a similar class to students? What worked well? What didn’t work as well as you would have liked?
- How would you modify this plan if it was a) clear students weren’t engaging in the material, b) one student began dominating the discussion, or c) students were distracted or confused?
- Ask questions to prompt reflection and teacherly metacognition, such as:
- What were your goals for students in this class? How will you know whether students have met those goals?
- How would you adapt the class if you discovered students hadn’t prepared adequately? Why?
- What would you ask students to do for homework to prepare for the next class? Why?
- Discuss common pedagogies or learning objectives for each candidate’s course or discipline
- Ask behavioral interviewing questions, such as:
Showcase Our Community
Don’t forget that an important part of traditional on-campus interviews is helping candidates understand how special Elon is. It’s common for candidates to have a campus tour where they can observe things that we know and love about the university, including the friendly faces, the comradery and community, and of course, the beautiful campus. Consider alternatives to this essential recruitment component for virtual interviews. If you usually take candidates to lunch with others, or schedule informal departmental “meet and greets,” consider a virtual coffee chat where they can ask questions of others with a less formal tone. Be sure to share details about our culture and diversity, in addition to the traditions that are special to you as an Elon community member.
Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL)
Hiring Technology Resource Guide
IT’s Hiring Technology Resource Guide was created in coordination with Human Resources and offers additional tools to consider throughout the hiring process.
Technology Service Desk
If you need assistance with Webex or other technology tools or services, please contact the Technology Service Desk at 336-278-5200 or visit the IT Self-Service Portal to report an issue or search help articles. Live chat is available as well from the portal.