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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
- Stay legal. Do not say or ask anything over the phone you would not
say in a face-to-face interview.
- Make the telephone interview a part of your regular process.
- Examine your recruitment process from beginning to end to make sure
your telephone interviews fit smoothly with other efforts.
- Telephone interviews are usually best when done after a resume
review. (See article "What Do I Do With This Stack Of Resumes?")
- 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.
- For positions that require high customer contact, high employee
contact and high telephone contact, use the telephone interview as a
- Understand that many voices change when going over phone lines.
- 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.
- 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
- Use the telephone interview to find out quickly about the
candidate. More traditional types of screening may take days or weeks.
- 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.'
- 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
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