How Do You Create a Successful Phone Interview?

Posted October 7, 2016

The key to making phone interviews a valuable part of your hiring process is to be consistent. Each candidate must be treated exactly the same to enable apples-to-apples comparisons.

The best way to keep things consistent is to use a script. Unfortunately, using a script doesn't make for a natural conversation flow, but your focus isn't to make a personal connection with candidates at this point. Your primary objective is to narrow down the field of candidates and determine which ones should be brought in for the face-to-face interview.

The following points should be addressed by your script.


Begin the interview by introducing yourself and expressing appreciation to the applicant for taking time to speak with you. Then, brief the candidate on your company's hiring process so they know what to expect moving forward.

Career goals

After the introduction, you'll want to learn more about the candidate's long-term career objectives. Having a candidate discuss their career objectives is an easy way to break the ice and make candidates comfortable. If you start off by breaking down candidates' resume right after the introduction, you're setting yourself up for a series of rehearsed answers that won't reveal much authenticity.

Ask candidates about their one-, five-, and 20-year career goals. Answers to these questions will give you a good summary of your candidate, and their vision for themselves.

Good at/Bad at

After talking about the candidate's job plan, ask about the type of work they enjoy doing, and what kind of work they don't like doing. People have a tendency to love work that they're proficient at, and have a tendency to dislike things that they're not nearly as good at doing.

If the person says that they like performing the kind of work that you will have them doing in your open role, it's a sign that they might excel in the role. For instance, if you're trying to hire for an administrative role, and the candidate says they don't enjoy doing paperwork, they probably won't be the best fit.

Work history

Candidates will have the most rehearsed answers ready for questions around their work history, but hopefully you're far enough into the conversation at this point that you've built up a bit of a rapport and made them more likely to share their honest thoughts.

Ask candidates about what their bosses or co-workers at each previous job might say about them in reverse chronological order. People tend to be more honest about experiences way in the past, and starting as early as possible makes it more likely you’ll hear the truth.

The position

Finally, start talking about your open role by reading the job description. Ask candidates if there’s anything they’ve learned since submitting their resume that makes them think they won’t be a good fit. Weaker candidates may take this opportunity to bow out, saving you the trouble of eliminating them later.

The next steps

Wrap up the interview, asking them about their timeline for accepting a new job, if they currently have pending offers and what their priorities are moving forward. Then, inform them about the next steps in your process.

At Ambassador, we assist hiring managers in sourcing new talent for a range of roles. If you are currently looking to fill an open position, please contact us to work with a full-service staffing agency!