Conduct a Great Phone Interview

Posted August 14, 2015

The phone interview is often dismissed as a necessary evil that must be conducted in order to schedule the in-person interview.

However, the phone interview is a useful tool and can be used to weed out candidates who qualify on paper, but are not a good fit, or who become uninterested in the open position once they have a conversation about what the job entails.

At its most basic, the phone interview can show a person's communication skills. A good interview can also reveal how up-to-date a candidate's skills are, if they will fit into your company culture and how appropriate they are for the job.

The Interview

Start the interview by introducing yourself and talking a bit about your role at the company. Then inform the employee how the hiring process works and what they can expect.

Next, ask the candidate about their career goals. Having them talk about themselves makes them feel at ease, and a discussion about career goals lets you know how they organize their thoughts about their own life.

Ask the candidate what kinds of work they do and do not like to perform. Since people tend to not like what they aren't good at – this question can give you a sense of the candidate’s skills and potential interest in the job. For example, if someone tells you they don’t like doing repetitive tasks and the open position is on a production line – you can basically eliminate them from the hiring process at this point.

Then, ask about the candidate's work history provided on their resume, starting with the earliest job. Candidates are more relaxed talking about a work environment or boss from three jobs ago, and if the candidate suddenly becomes less candid when talking about their current or most recent job – it should raise questions about their current or recent situation.

After talking about the candidate from 10-to-20 minutes, you can finally start talking about the job and the company. Make sure you give the candidate an accurate and updated description of the job, written with input from employees who currently have the same position. At this point, less interested or less qualified candidates may tell you they are not a good fit for the position.

Wrap up the phone interview by asking if the candidate has any issues moving forward in the interview process and set up a timetable that works for both of you.

Additional Tips

Even if you go with another interview format than the one provided above, be sure each phone interview is conducted in exactly the same manner. This allows for a consistent evaluation of the candidates.

Keep careful notes, even using word-for-word responses to questions if that is what you find most helpful in recalling a conversation. Go over these notes a day or two after the phone call so you can look at what the candidate said with fresh eyes.

Before you can start making phone calls, you need to find good candidates and that's where we come in. At Ambassador Personnel, one of the leading employment agencies in the South, drop us a line and we can connect you to some of the area’s most qualified talent for your open position.