Phone interviewing – when done correctly – is a great tool for quickly and efficiently reducing your qualified applicant pool to a more manageable number of could-be employees.
On the flip side, if done incorrectly or haphazardly, it can translate into a massive waste of time and can cause unnecessary frustrations in the hiring process.
Start with a Phone Interviewing Strategy
If you want to get the most from phone interviewing, start by developing your strategy, which should include a profile of your ideal candidate, an outline of the key information you want collected, a list of questions that will be asked of all candidates, some rubric for measuring candidate interest/enthusiasm, and an overall scoring system.
- Profile of Ideal Candidate.
Most organizations have at least a general sense of the “type” of person that best fits the company, but now is the time to formalize a profile for cultural fit. Alongside this list of values and beliefs, your profile should include the qualifications key for the position you are hiring for, as well as any other elements you deem important for the role (such as proof of certification, previous work samples, technical/communication competencies, years of experience, etc.).
Once this profile of the ideal candidate is developed, you will easily be able to compare all phone interviewees and eliminate those who do not come close to matching up.
- Determine Key Information to Collect.
Phone interviews vary greatly, but generally speaking, the goal is to keep them to more then 15 minutes and less than an hour or they become burdensome and an inefficient use of time.
Once you’ve developed your ideal candidate profile, think about what you want to determine about each candidate. Here are some suggestions:
- What are their salary expectations? Even though compensation can often change depending on qualifications and experience, you can use salary to screen out certain candidates who are too far above or below your range. Keep in mind that smart jobseekers know how to evade this question, so think about how you can get a direct answer from each candidate.
- How do they respond to questions about concerns/gaps on their resume? We all know that most candidate resumes are incomplete documents, some raising some key concerns – what I like to refer to as red flags. Not to mention, 58 percent of employers have found candidates to lie on their resume. Asking them to corroborate their work experience or explain gaps in employment may go a long way to determining their fit to being an ideal candidate.
- Are they as good as they seem from their resumes? Resumes only tell part of the story, and phone interviews are a great way to dig deeper and ask thought-provoking and/or behavioral questions to help determine if each candidate is as good as s/he seems.
- How closely do their qualifications match? By having a finite set of criteria for your ideal hire, you can take each candidate through a series of specific questions and check off which ones each candidate meets or exceeds.
- Are they really available and are they already in interview stages with another organization? You probably already know this fact from experience, but it is amazing how many candidates apply for jobs, but then become unavailable for the next round of interviews and/or for even the job itself. Not to mention, it’s good to know how if a candidate has another opportunity in the works so that you can adjust your own selection process accordingly (perhaps speeding it up).
- Does their work style match the organization’s? Work style is something that is never addressed on resumes and yet can play a key role in both the candidate’s satisfaction as well as the employer’s. You must find out if they match.
- What are the candidate’s expectations and what are they looking for in their next position? Expectations play a key role in employee satisfaction, so it is critical to determine what an employee wants from you — and whether that’s something the position will provide for.
- A Specific Set of Questions to Ask Each Candidate.
It is critical to ask each candidate the same questions, so develop them using the key information in step two as a prompt, as well as some of the typical questions we ask of all candidates, such as “Why do you want this job,” and “Tell me about your greatest accomplishment.”
- Rubric for Measuring Candidate Interest/Enthusiasm.
Phone interviews are especially tricky for measuring interest and enthusiasm since you cannot see the candidates, but you can develop some criteria for evaluating, such as the intonations of the candidate’s voice when responding, how much information they seem to possess about the organization, and the type and number of questions they ask. If they don’t appear to have done any research about the company or have any questions, it’s a good indication that they’re not super interested.
- Overall Scoring System.
It’s important to quantify each interview so that you can attach an overall score to each candidate, rather than using qualitative comments such as “good fit.” Most successful recruiters develop a numeric scoring system, such as 1 to 5, in which 1 is a weak fit/response and 5 is the perfect fit/response. A number is attached to each response, and then it’s simply a matter of adding up the numbers to develop an overall score for each candidate.
- Do Your Part to Prep.
In today’s competitive hiring market, no part of the interview process is a one-way street. You, like the candidate, need to be prepared to field questions, provide information, and sell what you have to offer – a great company and a great position. That means knowing the nuts and bolts of the role, like who the new employee will report to and what kind of benefits comes with the job, as well as being able to articulate the mission of the company and why it’s a great place to work.