phone interviews

Five Tips for Getting the Most from Your Phone Interviews

Five Tips for Getting the Most from Your Phone Interviews

Phone interviews save time and can quickly help you develop your short list of top candidates.

Lining up phone interviews with promising candidates helps you and your applicants. Relatively easy to schedule and conduct, telephone interviews give both parties a chance to ask preliminary questions to determine fit, qualifications, and the advisability of pursuing the job or the candidate.

Brightmove delivers cutting-edge recruiting software to help our clients connect with and cultivate the right candidates.  Our ATS parses and provides a pool of potential hires. Phone interviewing further refines your list.

Importantly, a phone interview offers hiring managers the chance to compare a resume to an applicant, while candidates get the chance to compare the real position to the job description.  Phone screening is an inexpensive method to avoid the significant expense of a bad hire.

The right questions help you make the right hire

Create a minimum skills and experience profile as you develop your short list.  Before each phone interview, ensure questions to each candidate are the same.  If your recruiting process allows for it, set up quick 10-minute telephone screenings to help create your short list for a longer telephone interview.

For a candidate with novel, highly-desired skills, it is tempting to go straight to that experience.  Resist the urge and be sure that your interview, and the order of questions, is roughly the same across interviews.  This gives you the information you want, helps you make needed comparisons—and works to avoid potential known, or unknown, bias.

When crafting your questions, consider these tips:

  1. Describe: Once your phone interview is underway, describe your open position.  Go through the job description and add real-world details, for example, teamwork or individual work?  Flexible hours and some remote work or office nine-to-five? Give a personal sketch of the position, and the skills and capabilities needed. With a solid, shared overview, you and your applicant are on the same page.
  1. Define: Ask your applicant to define their strengths and weaknesses.  Yes, it is an old interview question, but it speaks to self-awareness, and of course, the ability to discuss strong points and frame potential vulnerabilities.   Not too many applicants would admit to being persistently tardy, but some may offer that they are not strong on a particular piece of software—a weakness that can be addressed with training.  Candidly ask what it is about this job that attracts the applicant.  Be patient and prompt your applicant to explain their feelings and experience throughout the interview.
  1. Cultural fit: Describe your company brand, from organizational mandate to cultural norms.  Inquire about what really motivates the applicant.  Ask about their favorite employment so far—or what they perceive their “perfect” position might be, plus the types of jobs they want to avoid.  Encourage questions throughout the phone interview instead of just working your question list.  Candidate questions offer insight into their concerns and interest.  Don’t be afraid to ask the applicant if they feel they are a good fit for your open position.
  1. Review the resume: Give your applicant time to discuss the specifics of their resume.  If your applicant cannot speak to a particular experience with detail, ask for more explanation.  Boasting of an imaginary skill set on a resume is common; a CareerBuilder survey found 58 percent of responding hiring managers had identified lies in resumes.  Asking tough questions is easier on the phone, so be sure you have the background information you need before moving on.
  1. Closing: As the phone interview wraps, ask the applicant if they are interested in the position, and identify the predetermined salary range for the position.  Ask if they are still open to the position, and are there any additional questions you can answer or information you might provide.  Let them know when and how they can expect to hear from you next, and what the next phase of the interview process looks like with your company.

While that sounds like a lot of questions, the time goes quickly.  Take careful notes throughout the interview, including direct quotes, that you can enter into your ATS to help you compare candidates with your hiring team.

Even in the age of Skype, telephone conversations give both parties the opportunity to focus on the information being transmitted, not appearances.  When you want to save time and money, and effectively narrow your applicant field, pick up the phone and call.

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