PT: Scheduling your first round of interviews

Jan 28, 2018

Running your first round of interviews can be somewhat daunting to begin with.  It’s a new system to learn and may take you a little while to learn the idiosyncrasies of this particular application.  Be assured however that we have designed Sobs to be easy to use and will give you as much help as we can to make your job as simple as possible.

Step 1 – Sign up for a trial

You can sign up for a free trial from the website.  Visit the ‘Pricing’ page, select the application(s) you would like to trial and then click one of the pricing cards below the list of applications.  This will lead you through a verification and self-registration process.

Step 2 – School year levels

When you first login the application will prompt you for the year levels taught at your school.  Place a tick in each check-box next to each year level.

Currently the list includes “Prep” and “Yr1” through to “Yr13”.

Step 3 – Schedule the Interview Round

The next screen displayed is a list of interview rounds – currently the list will be empty however you will find a button at the top-right of the screen called “Add new round of interviews” – click this button.

Enter the details for the new interview round:

  • A description of the interview round might be “Semester 1 interviews” or “Mid-year interviews”
  • Enter the first and last date for the interviews – be sure about these because once they are set you can’t change them.  You can of course delete the entire interview round and create another; you just won’t have the option of changing these dates.
  • There are a number of teacher selection options:
    • Regular parent/teacher interviews = Parents will be prompted to select the teachers they wish to meet with
    • Parents meet pre-selected staff = Parents simply book an interview and the school allocates the staff member
    • Manage event capacity = Parents book seats for an event and there is no correlation to staff
    • etc

On the following screen you will specify additional details about the interview round:

  • Specify the date and time that staff will have access to the system.  Typically we allow staff access prior to the parents – this enables the staff to add in their availability or unavailability for the various interview times
  • Specify the date and time that staff access will close.  By default this will be one week following the interviews.  We still want staff to be able to access their lists, particularly in the case where they want to follow up a parent who failed to show up.
  • Specify the date and time that parents will have access to the system.  Typically this will be a couple of weeks prior to the interview period, allowing parents plenty of time to organise themselves.  Our experience shows that most people will book within the first 24 hours the system is available.  We also have a few parents who attempt to access the system prior to the opening, so in your notice to parents be clear about when the system will be available for bookings.
  • Specify the date and time that parent booking closes.  Parents will not be able to make a booking after this time.  Administration staff will however be able to make a booking on behalf of parent if necessary.  Parents will be able to access the system and view, print or email their interview times.  The period between this close and the first interview allows staff time to retrieve their final interview list and pull the necessary files.
  • Specify the date and time that parent access closes.  We recommend that you allow parents to access the system through to the end of the interview round so they are able to login and view their bookings using their smartphone.
  • You can specify that this interview round applies to specific year levels – select the year levels here.
  • A teacher availability message is included here – parents will see this message when they are selecting teachers.  If you anticipate questions about why a particular teacher is missing from the list then this would be a good place to preempt those questions and supply the answers.

NOTE: In specifying dates and times it is important to ensure your school’s timezone is configured correctly in the ‘School settings’ page.

Step 4 – Create interview time slots

Once an interview round has been scheduled we are then able to create interview time slots.  There is one list of time slots for each day, although you don’t have to create time slots on every day in the range.  For example you could schedule an interview round from Tuesday to Thursday but only create interview time slots on the Tuesday and the Thursday – so there would be no booking on the Wednesday.  This can be particularly appropriate if using the system for managing event capacity where you may have a series of parent meetings over a number of weeks.

From the “Interview Rounds” screen  click the “Manage slots” button for your selected interview round.  This will display current time slots and an option to create new time slots for each date in the scheduled interview date range.

Locate the date for the first set of interview time slots, and the ‘Add slots’ button.  Click the ‘Add slots’ button to create slots for this date.

  • Select a starting time.  If the exact time required is not listed select a time close to the time you want.  After selection you will be able to edit the time to exactly that of the first interview time slot
  • Select a duration for the time slots (in minutes)
  • If you wish to define a gap between interviews you can specify that here, alternately leave this value blank
  • Select an ending time – the end time of the last interview time slot.  If the exact time is not available select the nearest time and then edit the resulting value as required
  • [Only valid where parents meeting with staff] By default staff are assumed to be available for all time slots created.  You can change this so that staff are automatically marked as unavailable for all time slots and therefore must mark themselves as available when given the opportunity (this will only work if the Staff have been pre-loaded, process Step 5 and then return to this Step later)
  • [Only valid when managing event capacity]  You will be asked to define the slot capacity.  In general this is the number of seats available.  When parents book they will be asked for the number of seats required

This page will be redisplayed with the current list of time slots displayed.

You can add additional slots to any date, for example if you wish to define a break in the middle of the interviews you can create the time slots in two invocations of this function.

You also have the option to delete slots at this point.  If you delete a slot that has bookings all of those bookings will also be deleted.

Repeat this process to create slots for each day of interviews.

Step 5 – Load your staff details

** (not required for managing event capacity)

If you use any other Sobs applications you may already have a current list of Staff loaded.  Click on the ‘Staff’ link in the menu to determine if your staff are currently loaded.  If so then proceed to Step 6.

To load your staff follow the instructions for importing in this article:  Importing Users

Step 6 – Define which year levels staff teach

** (not required for managing event capacity)

The crux of the system is Year levels.  You start by defining the year levels taught at the school, we define a round of interviews that applies to a set of year levels, and then we identify which year levels each staff member teaches.  When parents register and add their child’s detail they specify the year level.  With this information we can then tell whether there are any valid interview rounds for this parent, and also which teachers to select from.

Click on the ‘Staff’ link in the left hand menu.  This will display a list of staff.  In the second column is a list of year levels taught at your school – place ticks in the check-boxes for each staff member to indicate which year levels they teach.  You can use the ‘Global’ option in the column header to make global changes to all staff if this is helpful.

We had considered whether it is quicker to import this information, however when we evaluated the option we found it took longer to format the data for import than it did to go through and enter the information onto this page.  Just tick the check-boxes, the records are updated immediately.

Step 7 – Parent access and your testing

Before allowing parents to access the system you can perform a test run.  From the ‘Interview rounds’ screen you should find a button in the ‘Options’ column for ‘Make a parent booking’ – click this.

  1. Your Sobs session is temporarily suspended and you are now prompted with a screen similar to what parents will see.  At any time you can return to your Sobs session by clicking the ‘Return to staff access’ link at the bottom of the left hand menu.
  2. Continue with your testing (pretending to be a parent) to ensure the correct teacher lists are appearing along with other messages and options.
  3. At the end of the your test click the ‘Return to staff access’ to restore your Sobs session.

Click on ‘Parent access’ in the left hand menu.  Listed on this screen is the URL for parents to access your system.

  1. The URL option can be supplied to parents, however we recommend that you include this URL as a link on your school’s website, so you simply ask parents to visit your school website and then follow the link to the Parent/Teacher booking system.

For now, and for your testing, you can simply enter the URL into your web browser.

  • NOTE: If the system indicates there are no current interview rounds, this is probably because the parent access date and time has not yet arrived, or has closed – check those dates for your interview round.
  • Parents are prompted to enter their email address.  We use the email address (or whatever else is entered here) as a unique key for this parent.  If later they return to make changes to their bookings they can enter the same email address and are able to edit their booking information.
  • We also collect the parent’s name and contact number.  This assists the teacher or school in contacting the parent for any reason.
  • The parent is then prompted to add a child – they enter the child’s name and year level.  The parent can enter multiple children.
  • At this point the system will indicate which interview rounds are available for booking, if any.  A “Create bookings” button will appear.
  • When creating bookings for a child the parent is first prompted to select from a list of teachers (teachers who teach the child’s year level).  The parent will place a tick in each check-box next to each teacher they wish to meet with. (This only applies when using ‘Regular Parent/Teacher Interviews”)
  • The following screen will display each teachers’ available time slots in a tabular fashion, the teachers listed across the page and the time slots down the page.  Green slots are available.  Grey slots are unavailable.  Pink slots are those booked by this parent.

There are a few other features that we have skimmed over, our intention here is to get your first round of interviews running and we hope we have helped you to achieve this goal !