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How To Conduct Phone Interviews

How to Conduct Phone Interviews

Phone interviews can play a vital role when you need to hire. You can leverage a phone interview as part of your recruitment process, screening candidates, saving valuable time and expense. The phone interview structure is most effective when it focuses on work history, experience, qualifications, and salary expectations.

Here we look at the advantages of telephone screening interviews and phone interview questions, templates, and tips.

The advantages of phone screening interviews

Adding a telephone screening interview to your recruitment solution will help you significantly streamline the task of hiring. The cost and time savings are huge because in-person interviews often require a commute, office space, and heaps of planning. These valuable resources should be reserved for prime candidates where an employment case is validated.

In ten to fifteen minutes, a phone conversation can determine if the applicant has reasonable salary expectations and can fulfil the job description. You can also address red flags, such as an employment gap, which might indicate a real issue or cause you to overlook capable talent.

The secret recipe to success with phone interviews is asking the right probing questions that, by their nature, implore the candidate to relay useful information. The goal is to screen out poor candidates and move excellent talent onto the next stage in the recruitment process.

Telephone interview questions

Here we share five phone interview questions to ask every candidate.

1. What are your salary and future salary expectations?

The response to the salary question is crucial and an instant filter that highlights candidates with a salary expectation fundamentally different from what you can offer. You will discover the applicant’s seniority and gain an insight into whether they will find the position challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling. 

If the salary expectation is less than their current salary, this may indicate a problem contrary to long-term success. However, it may be the result of a change in circumstance or values, so it is essential to probe further.

If the interviewee does not initially answer the salary question, come back to it later in the call. After all, you will be unable to make an acceptable job offer if you don’t know if the candidate will be a financial fit. Without the salary information, you risk wasting time and financial resources unnecessarily.

2. Why are you leaving your current job?

The reason for leaving will not only highlight the motivations and aspirations of the applicant. The response to the question might reveal a similar circumstance in your company and lead to a poor fit for you and the candidate.

3. What are the common mistakes others make in this role?

This question is an excellent tactic to discover the candidate’s role awareness. Answered well, you know that the applicant understands the challenges of the job and can reflect inwards and avoid common and lesser-known mistakes.

4. Tell me about a successful idea you have implemented

The fourth phone interview question is steered towards uncovering skill level, experience, and capability. Answers will vary across business sectors, but you should be able to determine what the candidate can handle, manage, or take on.

5. What excellent service or product have you recently encountered, and why do you like it?

By answering this question, candidates can demonstrate their awareness and trends for their field or industry. 

Phone interview techniques, format, and template

If you need to hire, one of the most pertinent questions is whether you should use a standard interview format and template or take a more freestyle approach. It is beneficial to use a structured layout across screening conversations for the same role during phone interviews.

Using a consistent format, all applicants are considered on a level playing field. It is tough to make valid comparisons if you have posed different questions to each candidate.

We recommend preparing your question set for each role ahead of time while still recognising that each interview may take its own shape and lead to further exploration.

Phone interview tips

Our top telephone interview and screening tips will help you prepare for interviews, ignite the right mindset, and facilitate the hiring process, making it less time-consuming.

1. Listen carefully

While conducting phone interviews and screening, it is a good idea to listen for signals that might indicate the candidate is not the right fit for your company.

Excellent interviewers listen more and speak less. You should rely on your instincts and consider other candidates if your gut tells you something is not right.

When conducting a screening interview, you should be aware of warning signs that are a literal red flag:

No energy – indicating the interviewee is not driven or self-motivated.

They talk too much about money – which rarely translates into a good hire.

Their resume and LinkedIn profile do not match – which requires excellent explanations for the discrepancies.

They don’t know what they want – indicating the individual might be looking at several roles or moving jobs frequently.

2. Check facts

Facts relayed by the candidate are evidence of their statements, achievements, and experience. But how do you know that this evidence is truthful?

An excellent approach is to note down facts the candidate gives you and then, later in the phone call, ask for those facts again. If the answer is the same, they are more likely to be accurate and less likely to be false or highly embellished.

3. Schedule intelligently 

While most phone screening interviews are completed in ten to fifteen minutes, scheduling more time on your calendar is advisable. If you realise that you are talking to a superb candidate, you will have time to extend the conversation, discover more, and begin sowing the seeds into why your company is an excellent fit for them.

It helps to recognise that applicants are likely in employment or education, so you might need to offer meeting times outside of regular work or study hours. You can deploy an online calendar service to arrange appointment and use an applicant tracking system to keep track of candidates.

4. Make detailed notes

The recruitment process can hit severe road bumps if you don’t accurately record what is said. If you are interviewing many candidates, a discussion that seemed memorable at the time can become muddled, leading to problems when shortlisting and arranging in-person or remote interviews.

If follow-on interviews are conducted with or by other interviewers, ensure you distribute your detailed notes to all parties.

Preparing your recruitment process

Follow this recruitment process to find the best candidates.

  1. The recruitment process should begin with a job description, a document that can be translated into a job advert and form the basis of future candidate interviews.
  2. We recommend following a structured format to hiring and interview preparation, including the following steps:
  3. Write a job description, beginning with a job description template
  4. Convert your job description using a job advert template
  5. Prepare each telephone question
  6. Ensure your questions are not discriminatory (do not ask about age, race, sexuality, or nationality)
  7. Conduct salary benchmarking and research
  8. Use calendar software to schedule interviews
  9. Use an applicant tracking system to stay organised
  10. Keep telephone introductions short but polite
  11. Ask the same questions and take accurate notes
  12. Arrange follow-on interviews with top candidates

Further information on interviewing and recruitment strategy

We have compiled several valuable resources to help facilitate the hiring process, including:

1. Formatted interview structure

2. How to interview candidates

3. A guide on how to hire

4. Key questions to ask candidates

5. Flat fee recruitment

6. Job Advertising

7. Questioning techniques

8. Questions not to ask in an interview

9. Should salary be discussed in an interview

Phone screen interview FAQs

Here are the answers to the most common questions:

What is phone screening?

A phone screen interview is a first round of questions and answers that present an opportunity for the interviewer and the person applying for the job to discover if they are a potential match.

What questions are asked during telephone screening?

As an employer and interviewer, you should primarily be interested in conducting a short competency based phone screen interview and discussion to assess if the person warrants moving onto an in person meeting.

What happens after a phone screen interview?

Notes are finalised and a comparison among decision makers determines who should be called in for an in person interview.

How can I introduce myself in telephonic interview?

At this stage keep things brief and introduce who you are and a little about the company.

How do I prepare for telephone screeners?

Research and preparation should include collating your questions for the job. It helps to have the relevant information at hand, including the person’s cover letter, resume, and required skills.

What are the telephonic interview questions?

To judge if this is the right job for the applicant, look to hear and take notes of these interview question and answers; What is your salary and expectations? Why are you leaving your current job? What are the common mistakes others make in this role and your greatest weakness? Tell me about a successful idea you have implemented, What excellent service or product have you recently encountered, and why do you like it?

What type of questions are asked in telephone interviews?

Questions to ask in an interview include competency based interview questions as well as salary, why they are interested in a new job, and reasons for leaving their current employer.

How do I prepare for a 15 minute telephone interview?

Follow the interview tips covered here, prepare a selection of good interview questions, and be aware of the skills for the role.
Our advice is to be prepared to hear from the person for more than 15 minutes, giving you time to extend the meeting if candidates appear a good match.

What should I say in a telephone interview?

Consider using the STAR interview technique by presenting a Situation and Task, and then hear the Action and Result from the interviewee.

What should you not say in a telephone screener?

While talking to candidates about a position and required skills, be careful not to ask discriminatory questions on sexuality, race, religion, and age.

How long is a phone screen interview?

15 minutes is an ideal length for a telephone call, however, be prepared for longer conversations. You should be ready to hear about current job responsibilities, skills, their current position, and why they are looking for their next job/position.

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