• Shelley Maxey, Talent Acquisition Manager

7 Phone Interview Tips for Employers

After reviewing resumes and narrowing down your list of candidates, the phone interview is your first step in the formal interview process. During your phone interview, you will be able to determine whether or not you’d like to bring a candidate in for an in-person interview. You are also laying the foundation of building a relationship. You are a reflection of your company and this is the time to engage a candidate in your overall recruitment process. During each phone interview touchpoint you’ll have an opportunity to get a feel for your candidate and if they might be a good fit for the role and your culture. Below are 7 phone interview tips you can implement to effectively move your applicants through the first stages of your interview process.

Be Flexible

Often times we’re interviewing candidates who are currently working, so it’s important to schedule a call around their availability. Whether that’s outside of normal business hours, during their lunch hour, or on weekends. Candidates are just as busy as we are. While you’re juggling multiple interviews, they’re juggling their current role as well as the process of searching for a new opportunity. Being flexible will demonstrate your understanding of their situation and willingness to work together.

Create Structure

To ensure that your call is conducted with intent, have a structure for the direction and flow of your phone interview. You will also be utilizing your time effectively and also demonstrate that you are respectful of the interviewer’s. Although you cannot always control the direction that the conversation may take, having an outline set with a short list of qualifying questions will keep the purpose of the call on track. Write down questions that will narrow down the overall fit of this candidate to the role in which they’re applying. Ask direct questions, such as addressing any gaps in their resume, their experience, or tenure they might have had.

Be Prepared

Prior to your call, situation yourself in a space with limited noise and privacy to concentrate on the phone interview and the details of your conversation. If you’re in an office, close the door and turn down the blinds. If you’re in your car, pull over to a secluded spot without social interruptions such as traffic and slamming car doors. Take some time before each phone call to gather and review the candidate resume, the job description, and the pre-structured questions you would like to ask. This will enable you to pay better attention to the responses that the interviewer will give.

Listen to Learn

This is the time to understand what the candidate motivations are for seeking a new opportunity. Truly listen to what the candidate is saying, giving them time to answer, and do not interrupt or continue with your next interview question until they’ve clearly finished responding. Have your company culture and list of values at the forefront of your mind to determine whether or not the candidate priorities align, to give you a better idea of how they would work within your organization.

Let Them Ask

Screening during a phone interview is a two-way street. Your candidates are evaluating you as much as you are them. If the phone interview is going well and your candidate has a true level of interest, the conversation should be give-and-take with inquiry. Ask your candidate if they have any question’s they’d like to ask you about the role or about your business. You may even discover something more about your candidate based on what’s asked, so paying attention to their interests will reveal a little more about who they are and what they’re looking for.

Make Notes

While you’re on the call, jot down some things that stand out. Following your call, and while the conversation is fresh on your mind, make actual notes. Especially if you’re conducting a number of interviews. You can even block of 15 minutes following your interview to do this. If you have a recruitment system or applicant tracking abilities, this is the time to utilize the tools of your software to create candidate notation in their profile. Be detailed! If you ask your additional hiring manager or recruiter to review these notes for a second opinion, those details will give them a realistic overview of the phone interview and the candidate.

Be Transparent

As the end of the phone interview is wrapping up, explain to the candidate what the next steps of the recruitment process looks like. This is the time to be transparent rather than create false expectation. If you have a number of applicants left to interview and you expect to take time deciding on who you choose to go through to an in-person interview, explain that clearly. If you tell your candidate that you will follow up – follow through. Even if it’s a quick email to say that you need more time. If you’ve decided to proceed with other candidates, inform them that that you appreciate their time but are moving in another direction.

The phone interview is important to gauge those within the qualified candidate pool who are a skills and a culture-fit. It is intended to narrow down the candidates for your opportunity prior to the next steps. Although a phone interview is not in-person, it is the first key element of your overall hiring process and should be treated just as much of a priority as your formal in-person conversations. Many of your competitors will be treating a phone interview as an administrative task. You will attract top talent and stand out as a business who cares about the importance of who they hire by creating a well-intended, organized and exceptional pre-qualifying conversation.

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