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5 Ways to Successfully Conduct a Telephone Screening Interview

Attracting and hiring the right talent is a difficult task in any industry. For managers to stay ahead of the curve, they need a strategy that helps them to pinpoint the perfect candidates, while keeping their recruitment process as streamlined and simple as possible.  

A telephone screening interview is a useful tool for narrowing down your applicant choices. They require less time than the average interview and ensure that you have all the tools you need to determine whether the recruit understands the job, meets with key elements of your position specs, and has reasonable expectations.  

So, how do you conduct screening conversations that start employer/employee relationships off on the right foot? 

 

1. Be Prepared

 

 

As a hiring manager, you expect your potential hires to be prepared with answers to your questions, and plenty of information about their previous experience. In the same vein, you also need to be prepared to ask relevant, informative questions.  

Learn what you can about the candidate before your interview, keeping their LinkedIn profile, CV, and cover letter in front of you for inspiration. It’s also important to make sure you know the must-have aspects of the job you’re hiring for, so you’re ready to recognise the ideal person.  

Once you have all the information you need, find a quiet place where you can speak without distractions. Phone interviews conducted on bus rides and in traffic jams are rarely a good idea. Remember, your applicant will be judging you while you’re judging them.  

 

2. Refine Your Options with Screening Questions

A telephone interview is your chance to figure out whether you want to invite someone into your office for a more in-depth conversation. This means that you don’t necessarily need to ask all the questions you’d ask in a typical interview. Instead, narrow down your choices by finding out: 

  • What your talent wants from their next position: This will ensure that they understood your job description and know what you can give them in a role. 
  • If they have critical skills: There will be a handful of skills that you need to fill the gap in your workforce. Decide what you can’t live without and eliminate anyone who doesn’t have the right experience from your interview pool.
  • What kind of environment they work best in: This will help you to determine whether the hire will be a good fit for your existing company culture.  

Make a note of the questions you ask so that you can refer to the answers when you bring people in for a face-to-face discussion.  

 

3. Keep Things Simple

 

 

Phone interviews are short and sweet. They’re intended to be a brief step that companies can take to determine who they want to speak to in a face-to-face setting. This means it’s important not to get carried away when talking to candidates. Ask them simple, straightforward questions that can inform your decisions.  

Remember, while brevity is the name of the game for telephone communication, don’t rush people to give an answer. Applicants can be nervous – particularly if it’s their first phone interview. Instead of putting them on the spot, start by introducing yourself, telling them how long the interview will take, and make sure you give them plenty of time to articulate their answers.  

Here are a few things you can ask alongside your screening questions: 

  • What experience do you feel will help you succeed in this role? This can provide some background into the recruit that you can’t see on their CV.  
  • What convinced you to apply for this position? This shows you that they’re truly interested in your post and aren’t just applying for any job for the sake of it.  
  • How would you describe your approach to work? This indicates whether they have the attitude you’re looking for in a staff member.  

 

4. Self-Awareness is Crucial

Your would-be employees expect their hiring manager to be present and active during an interview. Make sure that you’re in the right mindset before you pick up the phone. Ask yourself if anything is distracting you, and whether you know everything you need to know about the candidate’s background.  

A screening conversation helps you to pick the best A-team for your role, but it’s also there to help applicants decide whether they want to accept your offer when it comes. A disrespectful or rushed interview may harm your employer brand and send talent elsewhere.  

Remember to show manners, don’t interrupt people when they’re talking, and conduct the interview with a friendly, supportive tone.  

 

5. Be Ready to Follow Up

 

 

Finally, at the end of each interview, be ready to inform your job-seekers what will happen next. Ask them when they’ll be available for a follow-up interview in the next few days and provide them with an insight into when they should expect a call-back.  

Even if you can’t give someone an answer there and then, you can put their mind at ease by letting them know what happens next. This can reduce the risk that your ideal candidate ends up taking a job from your competitor while they’re waiting for you to get back in touch.  

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