July 17, 2018

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The Telephone Interview

Telephone interviews are a little-used recruiting tool that can bring a number of benefits when used appropriately.

In the past few years I have been asked more and more to conduct recruiting and train managers how to recruit. For me, the telephone interview has become an integral part of a good recruitment plan.

A productive telephone interview is not complex though it does require some discipline and focus. To get those impressive results consider the following:

  1. Stay legal. Do not say or ask anything over the phone you would not say in a face-to-face interview.

  2. Make the telephone interview a part of your regular process.

  3. Examine your recruitment process from beginning to end to make sure your telephone interviews fit smoothly with other efforts.

  4. Telephone interviews are usually best when done after a resume review. (See article "What Do I Do With This Stack Of Resumes?")

  5. Use the telephone interview as a way to weed out inappropriate candidates. This is one of the best uses of the telephone interview -- it saves you time in useless face-to-face interviews.

  6. For positions that require high customer contact, high employee contact and high telephone contact, use the telephone interview as a screen.

  7. Understand that many voices change when going over phone lines.

  8. Listen to what the candidate says. This can sometimes give a much more accurate representation of the candidate since they do not have time to mentally rehearse an interview.

  9. Understand that the importance of the phone interview can vary with the position you are offering. For instance, I like to recruit office managers with a resume and a telephone interview. If they do not send a well-composed resume how will they compose company communications? If they mumble on the phone, what will your customers and vendors perceive?

  10. Use the telephone interview to find out quickly about the candidate. More traditional types of screening may take days or weeks.

  11. Be open to the candidate that 'knocks your socks off.' Good recruits are becoming harder to find. Good recruits get hired quickly! I have actually conducted a solid telephone interview, set up a fast face-to-face interview and hired the candidate on the spot. 'He who hesitates is lost.'

  12. Develop your own little 'toolbox' of questions. I like to use questions like 'what are you looking for longer term?', 'give me a sense of your skill level' and 'what kind of opportunity are you looking for?'

The telephone interview is a type of art that improves with practice. Like any skill, start with the fundamentals and build. When used effectively, the telephone interview can help you get the results you want.

-Jack Deal