Risk minimisation when interviewing via online video software

30th Sep 20

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the rapidly increasing use of online video software, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for virtual face to face interviewing.

Members are reminded to carefully consider and plan the use of online video software, in order to minimise any risks to participants, clients or their own organisation during interviewing. The key issues to consider apply to all interviewing but have particular relevance to the use of online video software.

A key concern is that of possible harm to participants as a result of taking part in the project. Members must take reasonable care to ensure that participants can do so safely. For example, if they are taking part in the interview via their mobile, by asking them not to participate while driving or while walking around where they could have an accident while distracted.

A further issue is that of privacy and data protection. When using online video software, participants may be able to record or take screenshots of other people involved in the discussion or of any information presented to them.

Members must take reasonable care to ensure that:

  • The privacy of all participants or viewers is not breached via recording of their images without consent,
  • any client materials, concepts or ideas are kept confidential and
  • any materials or techniques confidential to the moderator are protected.

As in any face to face interview or discussion, good practice is to inform participants at the start about steps taken to ensure their privacy and of the confidentiality of all information and materials shared in the discussion. This should include advising participants not to take any recordings or screen shots during the interview. Members should also ask them to take part in a place where they will not be overheard, if possible.

Software programs have differing levels of privacy settings. When deciding which programs to use, Members are advised to review them for general privacy protections and also to determine whether all participants can freely record or whether this function can be blocked.

In summary, when using video software for interviewing, take extra care beyond the usual safeguards to minimise the risks to the confidentiality of participants, your clients and your organisation.

Author: Jane Gregory, Professional Standards Officer, The Research Society