Save Time Interviewing – Incorporate Phone Screening First!
When time is at a premium, many hiring managers delay setting up interviews because they cannot set aside at least one hour to conduct a formal interview. In a market that is in extremely short supply of qualified candidates, delaying an interview will result in a missed opportunity to meet a top applicant.
Incorporating phone screening as a first step in the interview process will result in, (1) a winning strategy to quickly interview the best candidates before the competition, (2) reducing the first interview time commitment from one hour to a mere 15 to 20 minutes, (3) quickly eliminating candidates that do not possess the right chemistry and experience without committing to the typical full hour in-office interview, and (4) identifying traits that are not easily demonstrated in an in-office interview such as phone etiquette.
Another major benefit of phone screening is that it allows you to take more chances with candidates that may not look ideal on a resume. How many times have you passed on a resume because of poor stability, lack of a specific software application or pedigree employer? In a tight labor market, it is essential that employers incorporate more risk taking in their screening process. A quick phone interview will bring life to a piece of paper that can sometimes lead to a found treasure making your risk taking really pay off!
While a phone screen isn‘t a complex endeavor, having an organized and systematic approach will assure that you stay focused on all of the qualities you are seeking in a candidate, not merely judging the personality you hear over the phone:
- Rule number one – Any candidate can be phone screened including an agency‘s candidate! Contrary to what you may have been told by a recruiter, all clients have the right to phone screen candidates first. Many recruiters are trained to discourage or tell clients outright that they cannot do phone interviews. Remember, an agency is a service to accommodate you, the client. You have the right to proceed with interviews that work best for you and your firm – not for your recruiter.
- Preparation – Prepare a standard template that can be used on all phone screens. This template can be used as a script throughout the interview. Having a template will provide a standardized form to evaluate and compare candidates. Using this template will also help keep the conversation moving in the right direction.
- Punctuality – Just like an in-office interview, promptness is critical. If the candidate was asked to call you at a specific time was he/she punctual? If not, did he/she reschedule promptly and courteously?
- Maintain control – Even excellent candidates can sometimes be a challenge when trying to pull detailed information. It can sometimes be difficult to find a rhythm when phone interviewing and lack of preparation on the interviewer‘s part can result in an unfair and inaccurate assessment. Since a phone screening usually moves quickly into assessing skills, be sure you are prepared with questions that are specific to the requirements of the job so that the candidate‘s answers can be fairly evaluated.
- Communication skills – Will the candidate be communicating directly with your clients? A phone screen will reveal a candidate‘s phone etiquette and skills. If they aren‘t well-spoken in a phone interview, how will they sound to your clients and vendors?
- Candidate‘s motives – A candidate‘s reason(s) for seeking a new position is usually a top two factor for hiring managers to either move forward or pass on a candidate after the first interview. A phone screen allows you to quickly judge this critical piece of information and decide if the candidate is worth pursuing.
- Move quickly if you are “wowed“ – This market is moving very fast and there is no time to waste if a “next step“ is in order. If you are wowed by the phone interview, immediately set up a face-to-face interview while you have them on the phone to avoid delays and lost prospects!