Interview Recordings

[CSEF stripe]

Quick Summary

  1. All judging interviews at Virtual CSEF 2022 will be recorded.
  2. Students are allowed to have an adult observer be present with them during the interviews, though this observer may not participate in the interview.
  3. Students should use Google Chrome when being interviewed.


During physical in-person fairs, when project displays are set up inside the California Science Center, there are over a thousand students and judges spread throughout the building, so no student is ever alone. The fair is then a public (and safe) environment for all participants.

During Virtual CSEF 2021 last year, in order to ensure that all students were in a suitably “public” environment, CSEF established a policy that no judge would be allowed to be in any virtual interview room alone with any student. zFairs provided an option by which this prohibition was enforced on the web site.

However, serious unanticipated problems arose during the judging interviews. When any judge went missing, the other judge scheduled in the same room was blocked, and the student(s) in the room lost the chance to speak with multiple judges. Judges went missing for a variety of reasons including hardware problems, software problems, not following their assigned schedule, or simply not showing up.

CSEF resolved not to repeat that mistake.

Changes for Virtual CSEF 2022

This year CSEF has done away with the requirement that there must be more than one judge in an interview room in order for the interview to proceed. Most, though not all, interviews this year will be with a single judge. Now, if a single judge goes missing, no other judge and no other interview, will be impacted. All interviews that are possible with those judges who are present will proceed.

To ensure the security of all student participants this year, CSEF has adopted two new policies:

  1. All interviews will be recorded. CSEF intends not to review any recording unless there is an allegation of improper judge behavior during an interview. CSEF will delete the recordings after they have served this purpose.
  2. All students may have a parent or other adult accompany them in their physical room as an observer. Having an observer present is not a requirement of the Fair, but it is permitted if the student or parent desires. If the student is accompanied by an observer in their physical room, then
    1. the observer should be off-camera, and
    2. the observer must not participate in the interview in any way. All interviews are between judge and student only.

Ensuring Success of the Recordings

There is no recording produced if the only person in an interview room is a judge. In contrast, whenever a student enters an interview room, the recording will begin, regardless of whether a judge is present. Therefore, the web browser used by the student is a critical element in the recording.

When entering the interview room, the student will need to enable sharing of their audio and video devices. Rejecting the web site’s request will cause the student to be kicked out of the room.

Unfortunately, even though most web browsers are capable of displaying content from most web sites, for the purpose of these recordings, some browsers work better than other. After extensive testing, zFairs recommends that all students should use Google Chrome as their browser during interviews. In testing by CSEF, Google Chrome has proven to work reliably, while other browsers (Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari, etc.) have at best had inconsistent success, and at worst, have failed to generate a recording.

If your browser interferes with your recordings on Tuesday, April 12, this will prevent judges from interviewing you. Don’t let that happen to you. If you do not already have Google Chrome on the device that you will use on Tuesday, April 12, please get it now. If you plan on using a school-owned device for your interviews, you should ensure that your school IT staff installs Google Chrome before Tuesday, April 12.

[CSEF stripe]
Sat Apr 2 17:46:21 PDT 2022
California Science & Engineering Fair / Interview Recordings /