How would you schedule thousands of interviews?

Picture the scene: It’s 2020 and most of the world seems to have been told to stay at home. The rapid move to working, teaching and learning online meant new solutions were needed in short time. Selecting prospective students (both near and far) for the coming academic year was just one of many things needing attention.

How could we easily schedule online interviews for nearly 23,000 candidates? The old fashioned solution involving spreadsheets and people was one potential option, but the time involved to do this would have been unsustainable, particularly when staff across Oxford were already stretched to their limits. 

Meetings were held, discussions were had, and solutions were proposed. All this activity resulted in the IT Services Software Solutions team very quickly developing a tool which could be easily used across Oxford for scheduling interviews. Built using Dynamics 365, the Interview Scheduling Tool was thoroughly tested by our Testing team before being used by around 150 staff responsible for scheduling huge volumes of interviews in a very short time frame. 

It worked! Students were interviewed and appointed, and the business of the University carried on. The tool was widely recognised as being very useful and around half of contacts across Oxford (including colleges) said that they would like to use it in the future for scheduling both in-person or remote interviews. But it was a temporary solution requiring manual intervention – a better tool for longer-term use would need more work.

Looking to the future

Following business cases and more meetings, a decision was reached to redevelop the tool, making it even more straightforward to use and more secure.

Our teams worked hard to ensure that the improved scheduling tool was ready in good time for the 2021 interviews, and this new tool continues to make interview scheduling much easier.  

It’s true what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. A tool for scheduling interviews had been discussed in the past, but funding was limited and other priorities seemed to bubble higher. But the Interview Scheduling Tool is here now and we hope it (or a version of it) will continue being used in the future… watch this space.