Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

For over 200 years RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) has played a major role in medical education and training in Ireland. Founded in 1784 to train surgeons, today the College provides extensive education and training in the healthcare professions at undergraduate and postgraduate level. More than 60 countries are represented on RCSI’s international student body. The College has a strong international presence with a University in Bahrain; two Medical Schools in Malaysia (at Perdana University and Penang Medical College, jointly with UCD); and an Institute in Dubai. The RCSI has a registered students population of 3,806 and employs 952 staff.

Context

RCSI is the largest medical school in Ireland in the top 50 international universities in the World in the QS rankings. 70% of students attending RCSI are from outside of the European Union and over 50 nationalities are represented within the student body. Students join RCSI from Vancouver on the west Coast of Canada, to the Southern tip of New Zealand and all points in between. Recruiting these students is an enormous logistical task which the introduction of Sonru, as part of the selection process, has revolutionised.

All applicants are vetted for academic suitability and are required to submit personal and academic references and a personal statement. In addition, competitive candidates are provided with the

opportunity to present for interview which is where Sonru comes into effect.

“The pilot was so successful that we adopted it as a substantial component of the selection process in the following year.” – Flavia Destro, International Student Recruitment

RCSI first piloted the use of video interviewing following the Icelandic Volcano which impacted significantly on the traditional face to face interviews that had been used as the traditional model of selecting candidates.

Key Findings

  • Significant Time & Travel Savings
  • Assessing ‘Fit’
  • Fast Enough to Catch Best Candidates
  • 97% Response Rate 

Some of the Highlights

“Online interviewing has made a real impact on how we do our business. It has also saved significant monies in real terms and has speeded up the entire process end to end.” – Flavia Destro, International Student Recruitment

Prior to the adoption of video interviewing, successful applicants were invited to a personal interview with academic staff members who flew from Dublin to the overseas locations. This was a time consuming and expensive process and had the disadvantage of limiting the opportunity to interview small numbers of candidates who applied from remote or unusual locations.

Each year, RCSI makes their offers to successful applicants in March with all acceptances received by mid-April. Prior to using video interviewing, RCSI would still be flying academics overseas and conducting interviews in June so literally months have been taken off the recruitment cycle. The shortening of the interview process has liberated time to allow the admissions team to focus on other marketing works which again is a positive development.

Flavia maintains that “video interviewing has tremendously improved the quality of our students. We are now able to interview all the top candidates quickly and offer them a seat without running the risk of losing them to a competitor because our interview process is too slow to catch the talent.”

Prior to video interviewing, RCSI travelled to interview applicants on their own countries, a very lengthy process, which created a risk of candidates being offered a place elsewhere.

“When we were flying our team overseas, available dates for interview were very limited and we missed the opportunity to meet good candidates. Now we can access everyone at the same time and Video Interviewing has enabled us to double the number of applicants we interview.

Video interviewing is useful in assessing the applicant’s general communications skills which is an important aspect to our selecting the right students. We can also see if they are bubbly and bright or shy and quiet so you really do get to see their personality through the video.” – Flavia Destro, International Student Recruitment

Candidate feedback has been very positive with a 97% response rate recorded for applicants for the 2015/16 academic year.

“The candidates like to be able to complete the videos in their own time. It’s particularly convenient for the applicants who find it very hard to get time off school to attend interviews. The opportunity to complete the interview from their home makes it very easy for them and limits the impact on their studies.

The academic staff is happier too. They [the academic staff] no longer have to block out time to travel, they simply allocate time in their diary to watch the interviews. The process that once took a number of months is now completed in a matter of weeks.” – Flavia Destro, International Student Recruitment

“It was awesome. I can do interview any time and at any place that I want. It really boosted my self confidence.”

“Quite a new but rewarding experience.”

“Nice to do it in the comfort of my home.”

“It was a fantastic experience, easy to complete and very user friendly.”

– Candidates

Conclusion

“My favourite benefit is not having to deal with the incessant rescheduling of interviews. It was a nightmare – I would send an email inviting candidates to a face-to-face interview and within 3 minutes the phone would start ringing. I spent so much time booking just 10 interviews and when you multiply that by several hundred, well lest just say it was chaotic.”

Flavia Destro, International Student Recruitment