How to Conduct a Phone Interview

Conducting a Phone InterviewHave you ever brought in a candidate for an interview, and as soon as they open their mouth, you know this is going to be a waste of time?  They looked good on paper, but in person, there’s just no sizzle with this steak.

This huge waste of time and resources could be avoided by doing an initial phone interview. 

We’ve got everything you need to know about getting the most out of phone interviews!

Prepare yourself for the phone interview in advance:

First, narrow your applicant pool to the top candidates.

  • Create a list of 5 – 7 questions to ask each candidate.  These should include topics that are essential to the job and critical to your decision to move forward
  • If you have a specific question for an individual candidate, write it down ahead of time
  • Create a form to take notes for each interview

Prepare the candidate for the phone interview:

Notify them when the call will occur so they can be free of distractions.  Spur of the moment calls may set them up for failure.

Let them know how long the call will take, which should probably be 15-30 minutes.

What to do during a phone interview:

Start with a brief introduction about the company and the position, then jump right in to your questions.

Make sure you, too, are distraction free.  You don’t want the candidate to hear you typing or conducting business on the side!

Take notes as you go so you don’t forget essential information they provide.  Keep in mind that your communication is creating an impression as well.  Put a smile in your voice, and your best foot forward.

If you like the candidate you’re phone interviewing:

If the candidate still seems strong for your position, this is a chance to do a little selling.  With the economy picking up, great candidates don’t stay on the market long.

It’s important to get the good candidate excited about the opportunity to work for your business!

If you don’t like the candidate you’re phone interviewing:

If it becomes clear that this is someone you won’t move forward with, cut the interview short, politely and with tact.  There’s no use in wasting more of their time, or yours.

Set expectations at the end of the phone interview:

Conclude the interview by letting the candidate know the next steps.  How and when will they hear from the company?

This is also the time that you should choose to let a candidate know if you don’t wish to move forward with them. Be polite and thank them for taking the time to speak with you.

Rank the candidates:

You may find that it’s helpful to rate each candidate on essential parts of the job in order to decide which candidates to bring in for a personal interview.

If you end up with several that are qualified, you can interview the top 3 – 5, and if you don’t fall in love with anyone, move on to the next 3 – 5.

But if you’ve done your phone interviews well, you won’t be wasting your time with unqualified candidates coming in to interview!

Using video chat to conduct interviews:

With technology what it is today, many companies are using Skype or other video teleconferencing software to conduct their pre-screening interviews.

The advantage to this is you can see a candidate’s body language and get a better feel for the person.  If they are interviewing in their pajamas, you’ll know right away this is not a candidate for you!

The wrap-up:

Phone interviews are  a great method for getting to know a candidate’s fit fairly quickly.  When they’re done well, they will save time for both you and your job applicants!

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