https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2020/10/19/video-online-job-interviews-covid-hints-tips/

Video job interviews: hints, tips, and what to expect

Image by​ Andrew Neel using Creative Commons Licence 2.0 

It's an exciting time to join the Parliamentary Digital Service. Despite Covid-19, PDS is still hiring and onboarding, and doing all we can to support new colleagues and people thinking of joining us. Selina Kaushal from our HR and Capability team shares some tips on what applicants can expect in video interviews.

Has the recruitment process changed because of Covid-19?

We haven't changed the application process, but we have adapted the panel interview and how we conduct any job assessments. This is so that candidates do not need to visit the parliamentary estate.

We are currently conducting video interviews between panel members and candidates using Microsoft Teams. If an assessment is needed, we carry this out during the interview.

Presentations, technical questions, and scenario questions are done in this way so that we can still evaluate a candidate's experience and knowledge.

How will a video interview vary from a face-to-face one?

The structure of our interviews remains the same, but we have extended the time for each interview just in case there are any technical issues.

We will ask a range of core competency-based questions, depending on the type and grade of the role. There may also be a presentation required and/or technical and scenario questions.

Our interview panels are made up of a chairperson, someone from the department and an HR representative.

Each member of the panel asks their set of questions to the candidate in rotation. This keeps it simple and avoids any possible confusion with questions coming from various interviewers at the same time.

If a presentation is required (which is usually time-limited), candidates will be able to share their screen and present to the panel.

How to prepare for a virtual interview

Prepare just like a traditional in-person interview. Spend some time researching what PDS does by looking at Parliament's website (www.parliament.uk) and get some useful insights by looking at other PDS blog posts.

The panel will ask competency-based questions based on the job description. Candidates will need to give examples of when they have demonstrated these skills. Here are some tips and hints to help make the video interview go more smoothly:

Before the interview:

  • Test the software before your interview and see how you and your background will look, check that the audio works well.
  • Make sure the lighting is positioned to show your face clearly, the environment looks clean and neat and any visible personal items are removed out of sight.
  • Switch phones to silent.
  • Have a pen and note paper handy to make any notes during the interview.
  • Practise presentations beforehand to make sure they do not run over the alloted time.
  • Familiarise yourself with the competencies and criteria of the job as you'll be asked questions about them.
  • Close other programmes on your device, make sure it is fully charged.
  • Position yourself near the wi-fi router, disconnect other equipment connected to it if possible.
  • We'll send details of the interview and a link to the Teams video call, add to your calendar and set a reminder.
  • Here's some guidance for setting up Microsoft Teams and more advice and tips (downloadable PDF).

During the interview:

  • Active listening and body language are important – nod, smile and engage with the panel.
  • Don't forget to look at your camera, not the screen.
  • Try to minimise distractions that may affect your concentration.

What are you looking for in responses to questions?

This is an opportunity for the candidate to show how they meet the selection criteria for the position. We advise everyone we interview to use the STAR technique (downloadable PDF).

The panel will take notes. They will score the answers in the same way as if this were a face-to-face interview, so applicants need to try to be clear, concise, and fully prepared.

If I am offered a role, when will I start?

Despite Covid-19 and the lockdown restrictions, PDS is successfully onboarding new starters.

Successful candidates must pass our security checks, and, once they have been completed satisfactorily, we will then make an offer.

How long clearance takes depends on how quick references are received and how busy the team is. We keep in regular contact with all applicants going through this process to provide updates.

After checks have been completed, we are able to courier equipment to new starters living outside London and who are not able to attend the parliamentary estate.

Inductions are carried out via Microsoft Teams to ensure that all new starters are able to gain access to all the sites needed and have everything available to be able to do their job.

It’s a great time to be part of digital in PDS and Parliament. Hear about the transformation taking place at the heart of democracy from Tracey Jessup, our UK Parliament Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO).

Why not take a look at the latest PDS ​job ​vacancies​ – worth checking regularly. ​

Good luck!

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