- Graham Briars, Paediatric gastroenterologista
Editor—Twice in the past five years I have made trips from Australia to Britain for the sole purpose of attending an interview. On both occasions I was unsuccessful. This prompts me to suggest that professor D M B Hall's indications for teleconferencing1 should be extended to include job interviews. He notes that in the British Paediatric Association's experience teleconferencing has reduced the overall cost of holding a meeting by half to two thirds in view of the reduction in “travel and catering costs.” The savings available by holding teleconference interviews for overseas candidates are far greater. For example, my latest trip entailed two weeks' absence from work (half my annual leave), 10 days' accommodation and subsistence in the United Kingdom, in addition to the cost of a transglobal flight arranged at short notice.
According to Whitley Council standards, NHS hospitals have been liable for travel costs for interviews from their point of entry to Britain, and candidates have had to accept the cost of their journey to Britain as the price of gaining overseas experience. Teleconferencing makes many of these costs unnecessary. One would hope that any reasonable prospective employer would not insist on the candidate making such a financial commitment when a viable alternative to face to face interview exists.
Some employers may think that this is an issue for the candidate and his or her purse. It may, however, become more of an issue for the interviewing hospital. The Whitley Council standards discriminate against all candidates from overseas, including those from other countries within the European Union. If this breaches the European agreement on free movement of goods and labour employers may find that they have a responsibility for reimbursing travel expenses from any point within the European Union. This must be an incentive for NHS employers to utilise teleconferencing for interviews.