Effective Ways to Hold Socially Distanced Interviews

Now Covid-19 has changed how we live and do our jobs, all aspects of work have changed too, and that includes interviews.

The ‘stay safe’ rules that apply to normal living create problems in an interview situation; for example face masks make any recording of the interview muffled, often too muffled to be comprehensible, even to the person sitting opposite.

Full face visors are better, as long as the recorder is near the speaker, but that means moving it or having one person incomprehensible on the recording. A visor will work fine, as long as you don’t record, but then recording to play back to check points and look for things you may have missed the first time, can be important.

The two meter rule only works for recording if it happens in a quiet room so there is no background noise. Even here, there are problems to overcome because the government advise ventilation. This can be an open window, which lets in noise from outside, or a machine which will make a noise too.

These are problems to overcome, and it isn’t too hard to do that. If you have a room with a window that doesn’t open onto a busy road, use that. Eliminate as much noise as possible and make sure the recording device is equidistant between interviewee and interviewer. Use a good quality one, and that actually includes most mobile phones, with decent software.

If you are interviewing multiple people sanitise everything well between people and that includes tables, chairs, door handles or anything else a person touches, and, perhaps most importantly the voice recorder. Sitting in the middle it will be closer to the person than is considered safe, plus people tend to talk ‘at’ recording machines, so they may be turned that way for most of the interview.

It is probably not fair to ask people to travel long distances, especially if this involves a train, plane or bus journey or an overnight stay. Even if lockdown is not imposed at the time, many will feel uncomfortable doing any of these, and you may be asking them to risk their lives. If you feel a particular candidate might be perfect, you could always travel to them, otherwise a Zoom, (or any other video chat), interview is a reasonable answer. A visor and two meter distance should keep everyone safe and allow a reasonable recording too. London Transcription use technology to ‘clean up’ audio, so provided the quality is not too bad, we should be able to transcribe the interview for you, even with a visor, although perhaps not with a mask.