How to Pinpoint Qualified Candidates With a Sharp Phone Interview Strategy
While you likely want to meet the ideal candidate in person prior to extending an offer, that does not mean you can’t do the early footwork via the telephone. Phone interviewing is a quick, cost-effective way to filter quickly through a group of candidates by asking similar questions, eliminating the weaker applicants from the short list. Is there a group conducting the interview No problem: Set up a conference call and plan the strategy out beforehand to ensure everyone is on the same page. Here are tips on how to pinpoint qualified candidates on the phone with an on-point interview.
Strike Up Conversation
Take a few moments and get to know the candidate. Engaging in conversation early on can help you connect with the individual and get to a comfortable place. In addition to obtaining a little insight towards his or her personality as well as professional experience, this also allows the candidate to get a feel for you and your company. If other organizations are on the table, a candidate may be more likely to lean towards the one with which a connection is felt.
Have a list of clear cut questions on your desk ready to go. Prioritize these based on the criteria of the position, asking the ones most critical to the position first. Eliminate less-than-favorable applicants by immediately asking qualifying questions, and then wrapping up the call if the answers do not fit with the job’s requirements. You can pinpoint qualified candidates with this method and engage in longer phone interviews with those who do fit the criteria.
Phone interviews can quickly become awkward if you don’t have your thoughts and goals organized. Know exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish and your expectations for the conversation. Avoid embarrassment by verifying the name of the candidate to whom you will be speaking and have his or her resume close at hand. Keep information pertaining to others out of sight or off your desk completely to avoid mix-ups, which can lead the applicant to reconsider your organization as a viable option. Know beforehand whether you need to ask for further documents or references and be clear on any dates and times you will need to give out if there is to be a follow-up interview.
If you want to pinpoint qualified candidates, this is certainly not the time to focus on menial tasks around the office. Save your e-mail inbox for a time when you aren’t trying to fill a position with your organization with amazing talent. You may be bored at how many times you are stuck asking the same questions, but you need to remain focused to differentiate between the answers and get the most out of the interview. Make the call in a quiet space where you won’t have a lot of office traffic so you can avoid interruptions. Distraction comes across the line a lot more prominently than you may realize and you risk putting off an otherwise fantastic candidate and can influence the tone of the call in a negative way.
When you hear something that strikes you, it is easy at the time to assume you will remember it later. However, throughout the interview process there is a lot of information coming at you from different directions and you might be surprised how much becomes muddied in your memory just a short while later. Have your computer or tablet handy and take notes throughout the process. If it is anything you think helps or hinders the candidate’s chances, document it immediately so you can confidently refer back to the information later. Utilize a headset to ensure your hands are free to type or write.
You may be running a tight schedule with the multitude of phone calls on your plate, but that is no excuse for bad etiquette when trying to pinpoint qualified candidates. Always call on time and speak in a polite manner. Remember, the candidate is assessing you, as well, and being prompt and professional will go a long way towards making an impression. Be clear on what the next step will be and the length of time expected before you make your final decision.
Have a plan in place prior to picking up the phone and get the most out of this step in the interview process. With a top-notch strategy in place, you will have the tools to pinpoint qualified candidates and shave your list down to only those worth considering for the position.