Using a Phone Interview to Screen Candidates

Phone interviews offer several benefits to employers seeking to streamline the hiring process and sift the best candidates from a large pool of applicants.

Telephone screening interviews are frequently used for filling higher-level positions or when the information provided in the candidate’s application needs to be clarified.  A screening interview can help you focus on a few most-promising candidates during face-to-face interviews.

While your staffing partner can help you develop the customized telephone screening interview process that best fits your specific needs, here are a few tips for conducting more effective screening interviews:

  • Prepare.  Before you dial the phone, have before you a copy of the job description, the job opening ad (if any), and a list of the questions you wish to cover in the interview. Preparation allows you to move the interview along smoothly and focus on the applicant’s answers.
  • Introduce yourself.  Introduce yourself, your company, and the reason for the call to the applicant.  Ask if this is a good time to talk about the position.  Many companies schedule telephone interviews in advance to minimize distractions, missed calls, and conflicts.
  • Explain the job.  Give a brief overview of the position’s major duties and its place within the department and the company. This clarifies which position you’re hiring for and gives the applicant useful information to consider when preparing his or her own questions.
  • Ask away.  Use the same basic set of job-related questions for each applicant.  Create a separate question sheet for each applicant, headed with the applicant’s name, to jot down notes about their answers and any information you may wish to follow up on during a face-to-face interview.  If you decide not to pursue the applicant further after the screening interview, write down on the question sheet the reason you have decided not to continue the hiring process with that applicant.
  • Give the applicant a chance to ask questions.  Ask the applicant if he or she has questions, and answer these briefly.
  • Explain the next steps of the interview process.  Each candidate should know what to expect next and when, whether it is a face-to-face interview or a letter declining to interview them further.  Giving general time frames is often acceptable – for instance, “If we decide to continue the process with you, we’ll call you to schedule an interview by next Wednesday.”

THE RIGHT STAFF recruiting specialists bring experience and focus to the table when it comes to finding top candidates and helping our clients develop top-notch screening and selection processes. To learn more, contact us today!

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