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Online recruitment using Collaborate

Our online recruitment has so far used Blackboard Collaborate as the platform for talks, interviews and panel deliberations. Collaborate seems to work well for this, and has the advantage that most teaching staff are familiar with it. It allows external guests (who can be from outside the university) to take part.

Collaborate works in most browsers, and if there are issues (e.g., with screen sharing), then changing browser often fixes them. Here's Blackboard's list of supported browsers:

To create a virtual room in Collaborate, login to MyEd and go to "Teaching and Research", then choose "Collaborate virtual classroom" and “Schedule Session”. When you click on the room once it’s created, a guest link will be come available. This avoids having to manually add all the participants to the room. Note, however, that the moderator (who basically has admin privileges for the room) needs to log in via MyEd, they can’t use the guest link.

Collaborate has the option of recording talks, which is useful if a panel member has to miss a talk, for example. Of course you need the permission of the candidate before you can record them.

Research and Teaching Talks

It’s easiest to use a single virtual room for the research and teaching talks of all candidates. This way only one Collaborate link needs to be shared with speakers and audience. As mentioned, the moderator needs to enter the room through MyEd. They then need to make the candidate a presenter (click on their name), so that the candidate can share the screen for their talk.

It’s really important to do a dry run of the virtual room with each candidate before their talks, ideally at least a day before so they are familiar with the platform. This can be delegated to the host of the candidate.

Have an out-of-band communication channel with candidates so that the coordinator can signal when they should enter the virtual room before their talks. Using Skype for that (just the text chat function) works well. Make sure to collect the Skype IDs of all candidates, and also their mobile numbers for backup.

During the talk, everyone but the speaker should have their microphone and video off, to reduce noise and preserve bandwidth. The lead recruiter normally chairs the talks, and the head of school chairs the feedback sessions. Before starting the feedback on research talks, ask all students to leave the room (and the candidate too of course). For teaching feedback, students should stay.

The chair should ask participants to use the “raise hand” feature in Collaborate if they want to speak, both after the talks and during the feedback sessions.

It is important to always have a co-chair, in case the chair gets disconnected or has technical issues. The HoS may be willing to do this, or arrange for someone else to co-chair.

Interviews and Panel Deliberations

Create a separate Collaborate room for the interview for each candidate. Time it such that it can not only accommodate the interview time, but also early start and overrun.

Again, share the Collaborate link for this room with the panel members and the relevant candidate. Again, having the Skype IDs and mobile numbers of all panel members is useful as a backup. Skype can again be used to communicate with the candidate, and to tell them when to join the room.

In addition to the per-candidate Collaborate rooms, also create a room for panel deliberations. This is used before the interview to agree on the questions, and after the interviews to reach a decision. The link for this room should not be shared with the candidates, only with the panel, to preserve privacy.

One-to-one Meetings

There are several ways of doing the one-to-one meetings. Collaborate works well for meetings too, so you could just create another Collaborate room for each candidate to hold one-to-one meeting in. Whoever they are meeting at any given time just enters the room. Or you could use Skype – this should work just as well, and you have already collected the Skype IDs of all candidates. This part can be delegated to the host (just like the scheduling of one-to-ones).


This page was written by Frank Keller, based on notes by Mahesh Marina - Thanks!

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