Bev Ball, Pauline Pilkington & Cath Gordon
School of Health Sciences: Radiotherapy, HLS
This case study outlines how Radiotherapy students benefitted from the use of automated online video-based interviews (e-interviews) and software, as part of their preparation for professional life. Participation in the e-interview activity was optional, and was supported by face-to-face learning within the curriculum. The experience shared here offers insights into how staff and students found the process, what they felt they learned, and key things to consider when planning and implementing this type of activity.
Please briefly describe the activity undertaken for the case study
As part of the pre-registration programmes in Radiotherapy, final year learners have input from the University of Liverpool’s Careers and Employability Service. Part of this involves preparation for practice, including completing an application for a first post destination, and a mock interview. Previously, mock interviews were done as a face-to-face activity, but to reflect how recruitment is changing in the sector; to ensure that students are familiar with automated online video-based interviews (e-interviews) and software; and to enable them to gain as much learning as possible from the interview experience, e-interviews were introduced.
Students complete an e-interview online and receive a copy of their recording, together with individual feedback. This learning activity is not mandatory, but is strongly recommended. It is deliberately not assessed; the emphasis being placed on preparing students for the interview process.
BSc students also take part in a supplemental activity in groups of 3-4, considering interview questions, discussing model answers, and participating in a group workshop where they answer questions individually and receive feedback from peers and an interviewer. PG Dip students, having fewer contact hours and typically more experience of interviews and the work environment, do not participate in this additional element.
How was the activity implemented?
Students are asked to apply for a real band 5 Therapeutic Radiography post with a person specification and job description provided, receive feedback on their application and are invited to attend an e-interview for the position, which is recorded.
How the learning activity works:
- An introductory email is sent to students on the date you specify, with instructions.
- The interview lasts between 30-60 minutes, and students have a timetabled slot to complete the activity.
- Students need to make sure they are dressed for interview and are in an appropriate place to be filmed at the correct time (e.g. a private environment with no interruptions). They are able to book PC labs for this if they need to.
- Once they press start, the e-interview begins. From this point onwards they are being filmed and have to continue. They can’t pause or go back. It’s designed to feel as realistic as possible.
- Questions appear on screen one at a time, and a countdown clock in the corner of the screen shows how much time is left for that question.
- Once the interview is over, the filmed interview is automatically emailed to tutors and the individual student.
- At a later date, students receive individual feedback from staff. They can watch their recording as often as they wish.
Setting up the software:
The set-up is done remotely by the Careers and Employability Service (Karen Fitzsimmons). We provided a person specification, job description, and list of appropriate questions. Some questions used were provided by our alumni, who had been asked them at interview.
SONRU e-interview software was used
Has this activity improved programme provision and student experience, if so how?
This activity is deliberately placed in the curriculum just before students begin applying for jobs in their final year. The recording element represents a major advantage over face-to-face interviews. As well as providing the experience of answering questions at interview in a relatively pressured environment (unknown questions, countdown clock, no pausing or re-doing, unfamiliar software), it also allows students to see exactly how they come across at interview (what they said, how clearly they expressed themselves, what their body language looked like etc.).
In reviewing their own performance and considering their feedback, they have an opportunity to learn and improve. Future iterations may build on this to include an element of Peer Review – perhaps sharing recordings with a friend to see how they answered the questions and then sharing with the class three things they learned from watching someone else’s recording.
The use of e-interviews also ensures parity of experience for all on the course – important, as the students have their practice placement at multiple clinical sites.
Did you experience any challenges in implementation, if so how did you overcome these?
- The logistics of setting it up take time - sourcing appropriate questions, implementing the activity, and getting students on board (important because it is a voluntary opportunity).
- Providing individual feedback is also fairly time consuming (approximately an hour per student). In future, we may use a marking proforma, or perhaps provide verbal feedback. It’s also possible to provide audio feedback alongside the interview as part of the software.
- Many students are initially horrified by the idea of being filmed and only see the benefit retrospectively. To counter this, it is intended that this year alumni will come in and explain how they benefitted from the experience.
- As a final year activity, some students felt it conflicted with their work commitments. To overcome this, the deadline was extended and reminder emails were sent. This year it is listed on their timetable.
- Most students gave the feedback that it would be nice if there was a person on screen, or if the question could be via audio (as well as displayed on screen) to make it feel more personal. That may be coming in a newer version of the software.
How does this case study relate to the Hallmarks and Attributes you have selected?
Student participate fully in this experience, preparing themselves as if it were a real interview (including dressing appropriately). It’s an authentic learning activity: they have an opportunity to think about what they might be asked and prepare in advance, but during the interview have limited time to consider and present their answer. They are put under pressure in real time to verbalise their thoughts and ideas in answering questions during the e-interview. Afterwards, students analyse their experience and consider their feedback, in order to learn and improve.
There is a big variety in how clinical sites interview band 5 Therapeutic Radiographers: some take a very technical approach, others are more focused on care, so the e-interview covers all bases. This activity prompts students to read more widely around the subject, and helps them learn how to deal with questions they are unable to answer. Feedback from students about the activity shows they found the individual feedback particularly useful, and generally felt much better prepared to face a real interview after participating. This activity also supports the process of helping students see themselves as professionals – making them aware that they are responsible for addressing any gaps in their knowledge.
e-interview software is already being used as an initial screening tool by big companies in this sector. Training students in its use and discussing its advantages and disadvantages prepares them for this digital element of future recruitment processes. Similarly, providing students with the opportunity to see how they come across on film, and then supporting them to analyse and improve their performance improves their digital communication skills and ability to appropriately present themselves via digital media.
How could this case study be transferred to other disciplines?
This method of interview can be adapted and the interview questions tailored to support any career area. It is easy to set up, with emails sent to students with instructions and a link to enable access to the system. You would need to consider the questions and the appropriate length of time given to answer.
If someone else were to implement the activity within your case study what advice would you give them?
Do it!!! Go for it!!! Be prepared that there may be some reluctance from students to be filmed and so be ready to really sell the benefits. Some students studying for the PG Dip have already participated in e-interviews in their professional life, and shared their experiences with the group, explaining the advantages of participating in this learning activity. Hearing this from peers carried additional impact. Consider inviting previous students to discuss the benefits (or film them).
Don’t worry about the technology – we have had no technical problems at all.
The use of e-interviews to Support Preparation for Practice in PG and UG Radiotherapy by Bev Ball, Pauline Pilkington & Cath Gordon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.