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How To Conduct A Phone Interview

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Confirm The Details Of Your Interview

How to Conduct a Phone Interview Best Practices

Before a phone interview can take place, make sure you confirm all the details of the interview with the organization. For instance, confirm the date and time that the interviewer plans to call you so you can be prepared ahead of time. Confirming the details of your phone interview also ensures that all professionals involved are aware of the schedule.

Why Schedule Phone Interviews

Have you ever interviewed a candidate who appeared to be the perfect fit for the position on paper, only to realize five minutes into the conversation that theyre just not meeting your expectations? Its an uncomfortable situation for everyone. Not only can it make the conversation awkward, but it can also be a huge waste of time for both parties and time is something that a small business owner doesnt have a lot of in general.

It is possible to avoid an interview situation when you quickly determine that the candidate isnt a fit by conducting a brief call with the candidate ahead of time. Phone interviews can help to better qualify candidates before inviting them into the office for a face-to-face interview. And, phone interviews can be done in the comfort of your office and require much less time than a formal meeting.

Benefits of a phone interview:

  • Determine if the applicant understands the job
  • Find out if the applicant meets basic requirements outlined in the job description
  • Get clarity on the applicants prior experience, skill level and education
  • Uncover if the applicant is aligned on salary that is being offered
  • Understand applicant career growth aspirations and if they are aligned with the role

Questions To Ask Candidates In A Phone Interview

Phone interviews are helpful during initial hiring stages. Theyre an opportunity to reject candidates who dont possess must-have skills for a specific position. You dont have to include questions that require too much thinking on the candidates part. Complex interview questions are more suitable for an in-person discussion.

Recruiters and hiring managers use phone interviews to:

  • Check potential deal-breakers early on
  • Ask for clarification on information in candidates resumes or LinkedIn profiles
  • Evaluate candidates verbal communication skills
  • Get to know candidates

Phone screening interviews can also be convenient for remote workers and distributed teams. The hiring team can use phone interviews to evaluate candidates skills and then invite a shortlist of two or three potential hires for the final face-to-face interview with the companys CEO.

Heres what well cover:

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Manually Review Your Candidate Pool

This can be a bit tedious, but itâs important to review each and every candidate who applies to your position in your talent pool. You donât want a great candidate falling through the cracks because of applicant overload.

To help alleviate some of the work, leverage the search and filter capabilities in your Applicant Tracking System . Filter out applicants who donât fit the exact experience or education required. Use as many automatic processes as possible, and then manually review the remaining resumes.

Example Phone Interview Questions

How to prepare for and conduct a great phone interview
  • Tell me about yourself. What skill set or qualities do you have that are relevant to this position?
  • Why did you apply for this position? Was there something specifically in the job description or ad that drew your attention?
  • What motivated you to choose this career path?
  • Are you currently working? If so, what period of notice do you need to give to your employer before resigning?
  • The working schedule for this position is . How flexible/willing are you to follow this schedule?
  • Do you have experience using software in any of your previous jobs?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Are you authorized to work in area?

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Take It As Seriously As An In Person Interview

THIS IS AN INTERVIEW! Treat it like one! That means be ready! Make sure youre well rested. The last thing an interviewer wants to do is feel as though theyre interrupting something else youre doing, or worse, woken you up.

When your interview is first scheduled, make sure you set aside time BEFORE the interview to prep for it.

If its an early morning interview, make sure youre going before the phone rings.

Get up, get moving.

Get your vocal cords warmed up. Brew a cup of coffee or tea and be ready for your day. Brush your teeth!

Speaking of getting up and goingthat means changing out of your jammies too.

But theyre so comfortable!

No. No. No. No.

This is just as much a mental game as a physical game and dressing the part can really help you kick your mind into the right frame to get you the job. If youre slouching around and being lazy, it will come through in your intervieweven if youre trying your hardest to fake it. Trust us, interviewers will know

Dress the partget the part.

Do Some Research Before The Interview

Odds are youve applied to more than one company and its always helpful to know a bit about who youre talking to, from both a professional and a business standpoint.

Double check the job description youre interviewing for.

Google the company. See how theyre doing and what theyre doing.

If you know whos doing your interview you can see what sort of digital footprint they have and find out more about them on a personal level. Look them up on but dont go overboard.

Its never a good idea to send them a Facebook Friend Request before you even have the interviewin fact, its probably not a good idea afterwards either. Maybe in six months when youve already got the job and youre all good friends having lunch twice a weekbut not yet.

The best part about doing this research is it also allows you to tailor your answers when you start getting hit with those interview questions.

Tailoring your answers is the best possible way to ensure that not only are you satisfying what the interviewer is asking, youre positioning yourself to be the best possible candidate for the jobor, dare we saythe perfect candidate!

Remember as youre pouring over all those notes you culled about the company and what they stand for that your ultimate goal is to be everything they need in a candidate and that means making sure your answers are specific, targeted and tailoredin a nutshell, customized.

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Tip : Be Flexible With Scheduling The Phone Interview

When scheduling interviews, its best to ask the candidate for their availability first, and work around it. This could mean being available during the lunch hour, or outside of normal business hours. Your candidates are just as busy as you areif not more, because theyre juggling their current job with the job seeking process. Make it easy for them to schedule a time to chat.

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Create The Right Environment

How To Conduct A Phone Interview | Forbes

It doesnt matter if you are working in an office or working remotely, make sure you are free from distractions, including your work email. In the office, you may need to schedule a conference room to be free from distractions. This ensures the candidate has your full attention and you will be able to better determine which candidates are a better match to the position and the company.

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Make Time For Interview Preparation

Give a telephone interview the same attention and respect that you would for an in person interview. Familiarize yourself with the candidates resume, cover letter, and social media. Know their background, and prepare a cheat sheet of relevant notes. With limited time for the interview, youll want to get straight to business.

Types Of Questions To Ask

The most important thing to remember is to keep the call simple. Asking too deep questions might make the candidate nervous and prevent you from eliciting the answers you want. That said, you still want to learn as much as you can during the first interview.

With that in mind, what are the best questions to ask? Here are some questions you can ask during the initial phone interview that will give you valuable information about your applicants:

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Common Phone Interview Questions For Employers

A phone interview is a low-pressure opportunity for both parties to get acquainted.

This is a good opportunity to walk through their resume, discuss their experiences, understand their work style, and discover what it is they are looking for in their next job. Asking these questions now will not only give you a better picture of the candidates background and experience, but also can give you the opportunity to ask more specific and tactical questions before you choose to bring the candidate into the office.

The Balance Careers provides a great list of potential phone interview questions.

Phone Interview Part I The Candidate’s Introduction

How to Conduct a Phone Interview (Do

Part I gives the candidate the chance to introduce themselves, explain their strengths, and walk through their resume. If the conversation doesnt flow, managers should be prepared to facilitate it by asking questions about pivotal points in the candidates life. Examples include:

  • Why did you choose that school?
  • Why did you decide to move?
  • Why did you decide to leave that job?

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Preparing For A Phone Interview For Interviewers

There arent hard and fast rules for how to conduct a phone interview. That said, there are some generally agreed upon best practices.

  • Prepare a scorecard.While candidates shouldnt be considered on a score alone, its a convenient way to remain objective and see how candidates stack up against each other. Following a general script of questions is good practice in this early stage.
  • Work to prevent subconscious bias. You wont be able to establish a visual or physical rapport with a candidate. This means youre often going off of just a name and a voice. Dont draw too many conclusions based off of limited information.
  • Find a quiet place for the interview. DO NOT conduct a phone interview on the go! Get somewhere quiet and avoid interruptions.
  • Focus time on the candidate. Dont oversell the job. You do not have a lot of time to learn all you need about a candidate. Focus on asking questions, listening to answers, and giving succinct replies to their questions.

What About This Position Attracted You To Apply

The more a candidate tells you the better. Do the like the industry or perhaps technologies or equipment your company uses.

If they say well its close to my house and thats the main reason then you may want to keep talking to other candidates. You are going to be investing in this person and you want them to be excited about the opportunity.

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Phone Interview Questions To Ask The Interviewer

  • How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
  • What qualities are you looking for in the person you hire to join this company?
  • If I was hired, how would I be interacting with you and your department, what would be your expectations, and your measures for success?
  • How would I get feedback about how well my work meets the expectations?
  • What do you view as the most challenging part of this job?
  • Why is the last person who held this position leaving?
  • Who does this position report to?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected? How about travel?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement with the company?
  • Is there anything else can I tell you about my qualifications?
  • Could I schedule an in-person interview at your convenience?
  • If I am extended a job offer, how soon could I start?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

Types Of Telephone Interview Questions To Ask

How to Conduct a Phone Interview

Now that weâve gone through the process to prepare for a phone screening, letâs look at some questions you can ask your candidates.

Generally speaking, your telephone interview questions should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Background information
  • Resumes points that need more information or clarification.

Letâs take a look at some examples for each.

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Where Does A Phone Interview Fit Into The Hiring Process

A phone interview, or phone screen, is a method for learning more about an applicant and determining which job candidates should be further considered for a role. If a resume or cover letter piques the interest of an employer or hiring manager, a phone interview is a great next step. It is a chance to speak with candidates and give them a chance to speak on their own behalf. Generally, a phone interview lasts about 15 30 minutes. The goal of the phone screening is to understand the applicants qualifications, work experience, and desired salary. From here, you can choose which candidates should and should not move forward in the interview process. For the candidates you are impressed with, you will likely want to invite them to a more extensive, in-person interview.

While a normal interview can be accomplish all of this, a phone interview has added benefits. Phone screens allow you to eliminate unqualified applicants earlier in the hiring process, saving you time and money. They are easier for everyone to schedule since travel and location are no longer factors. And, due to the lack of visual interfacing, there are subconscious biases that are circumvented with a phone interview.

Schedule Enough Time For The Interview

Once youve shortlisted your best candidates, its time to schedule the interview!

Depending on the role, youll have to decide between an interview thats in person, over the phone, or over a video call. Youll also have to decide how much time to allocate for an interview. Junior roles may only take 30 minutes, while more senior roles may take over an hour.

Its best to have more than one person interviewing the candidate, so be sure to invite a co-worker too.

Tip: Leave yourself enough of a gap in your schedule before and after each interview. You want to be in the right headspace to give your full attention to the interview, and you also dont want to risk being late. Remember, youre also trying to impress the candidate.

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What Is A Phone Screen Interview

A phone screen interview is exactly what it sounds like: an interview used to screen candidates, conducted over the phone. Simple, right? Yes, and no.

When planning and executing your screening interviews, itâs important to remember that this stage is designed to provide a quick and general introduction to a candidate. It is not designed to be an in-depth, customized interview to probe the candidateâs deepest, darkest secrets.

The focus of your phone screen interview should be to determine if an applicant has the qualifications necessary to do the job. They probe surface-level questions about:

  • background,
  • reasons for applying and general knowledge of the company,
  • and judge communication skills and attitude.

A screening interview over the phone should not include in-depth job testing or culture testing. Too much, too soon can scare a candidate away. Instead, you should use these interviews to gain enough supplementary information about the candidate to help determine if you want them to come in for an in-person interview or job test.

When done properly, the benefits of a phone screen interview are plenty:

If this sounds a bit daunting, donât worry. Weâve put together a phone interview cheat sheet to help you get started.

How Should I Conclude The Phone Interview

How to conduct a technical phone interview

The best way to conclude a phone interview is with some level of transparency. If the applicant is worthy of moving forward to the next round, let them know someone will be contacting them to schedule a follow-up. Should they not be deemed a good fit for the position, let them know why or tell them that you have other candidates who are a closer match. When you have mixed feelings and need some time to think about it, let your applicant know a definitive time frame when you will get back to them with an update. Interviewing is a two-way street. Do not assume an applicant is going to wait for your response and not continue interviewing elsewhere.

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Clear Your Mind Of Bias

The purpose of the phone screen interview is to determine whether a candidate deserves an interview. Bias can diminish its effectiveness. If you were impressed by a candidates resume and youre already determined to bring them in for an interview, the call is obsolete. Conversely, if you dont like this candidate because of their cover letter or resume, youre likely to deny them the opportunity anyway. Avoid the risk of making a bad decision by being objective.

Choose An Interview Space

Use a quiet, comfortable, and private space. If youre at home, kick out kids, spouses, significant others, parents, pets and anyone else who is in the house and close the door.

Have your resume in clear view taped to the wall or on your desk. Also, have a short list of your qualifications and skills specific to the job youre interviewing for close at hand. A cheat sheet will help you respond to related questions without fumbling for words.

Have a pad and pen ready to jot down notes. Turn call waiting off on your phone and be sure to use a landline, not a cell phone, whenever possible. You dont want to have to worry about dropped calls.

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