May 2016

How to Conduct a Proper Phone Interview: 5 Easy Steps to Success


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As I mentioned in my last blog post, the phone interview saves time by allowing me to pre-screen candidates and get information that doesn’t appear in the cover letter or resume. When done right, phone interviews help narrow down the pool of candidates before bringing finalists in for a face-to-face interview. Here are five tips to conducting a proper phone interview:

  1. Prepare
    If you were going to a job interview, you wouldn’t go in without learning a little about the company beforehand. The approach to a phone interview should be no different. Review the candidate’s background before the call by looking over their resume, LinkedIn profile and any other relevant information. Doing so will allow you to think of questions to ask the person during the phone interview.
  2. Focus
    Make sure you are in a proper location to conduct the phone interview. If you’re in the office, you should be fine but make sure there isn’t a bunch of noise and distractions around you. These days, a lot of small business owners are conducting phone interviews from home or in coffee shops. If this is the case, I recommend going into a room where you can get away from the pets and kids, or if you’re on the road, pull over into a quiet location where you can focus on the call. Resist the urge to check email, read status updates or conduct other business while you’re on the phone call. You may not realize it but when you don’t focus 100% on the call, you’re giving a bad impression to the candidate and you’re likely to miss important information.
  3. Listen
    The candidate will also have questions for you so be forthcoming and answer their questions. However, the focus needs to remain on them. Listen more than you talk. Ask open ended questions to see how they respond and interact.
  4. Notes
    This is an important task that many employers overlook. Take notes during the call so you can look back on them after the call. If there are other people involved in the hiring process, share the information you learned with them so they can give you their opinion.
  5. Thanks
    Last but not least, thank the candidate for taking time out of their day and let them know when you’ll follow up. This is common courtesy that many employers forget about. When employers reach out to candidates and don’t get a response, they get frustrated by the lack of response. The same applies in this situation. Candidates will get frustrated and think less of your company if you don’t follow up like you said you would. A simple email or quick phone call (less than 5 minutes) is all it takes. Be courteous and keep them in the loop. If you’re not interested, let them know so they have closure.

When done right, phone interviews can save you time by pre-screening candidates and provide you with information you won’t find in a resume. When done poorly, they can be awkward, impersonal and an ineffective screening tool. By using the advice in this blog and my last one, you will become a more effective interviewer, which will help you save time and narrow down the candidate pool much faster.