A phone interview is one of the most under-utilized, yet powerful tools you have when hiring employees. They are cheap, quick, easy to arrange and can be a great way to get a sense of a potential employee before making the time commitment of bringing them in for a face-to-face interview.
Here Are My Top 4 Phone Interview Tips
Set the stage
The reality is interviews are a two-way street. They are judging you as much as you are judging them.
So, let them know how long you expect it will take, what the interview will consist of, and ask if they have any questions before you get started.
Telling them the time you are expecting it to take helps the candidate understand how long their answers should be. It also eliminates the confusion that happens when the candidate is expecting an hour long phone interview and the hiring manager is planning on 20 minutes. Telling them what the interview will consist of is just polite.
We all like a program when we go to an event, it helps us understand the flow and be prepared for each stage (and know where we are in the process). I also encourage you to ask them upfront if they have any questions. If they just got another job offer and need to know how long your process will take, just saves everyone time. Likewise, it gives them the chance to ask any of their “Deal Breakers” so you don’t waste time talking to someone who isn’t going to want to go to the next step.
Now that you’ve set the stage, it’s time to find out if they can do the job you need them to do. You should have a resume in front of you, but if there is anything that you need out of your new employee that isn’t specified on the resume, now is the time to find out. For instance if it is absolutely essential that they know how to use Adobe Illustrator, but for some reason that isn’t on the resume, ask about it now, if they don’t know it and you won’t have the time to train them, it’s on to the next candidate.
“Tell me about your past experience and comfort level with Adobe Illustrator?”
The point of a phone interview is to get really clear about if they have the skills and experience to be successful in the role. Not, if they are a great cultural fit, but you will get a lot of clues about that too! Ask a series of functional questions regarding their experience as it relates to your business. For instance, if you’re looking for someone in sales and marketing, ask them specific questions about what they’ve sold in the past, whether they’ve ever developed a marketing strategy from scratch, if they’ve ever managed a sales team etc.
“Have you ever managed other sales people? Were they inside or outside sales people?”
“Did you prospect for new business at ABC company? What methods did you use?”
“What was your sales volume at ABC company? What was the average ticket price?”
After you’ve gotten the information you need to determine if the person is worth bringing to the next level you have a couple of choices. If you aren’t sure if they should go to the next level, ask any follow up questions you need to get the information you need. But, if you are just on the fence, say something like:
“I have several more interviews this week, so I will be in touch when I decide who is moving on to the next step”
If you are sure they aren’t going forward you can verbally regret them (this is for when you are really comfortable interviewing 🙂
“Thanks so much for your time today, we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of qualified applicants for this position and unfortunately, I don’t think your experience will put you in the top three that will move on to the next step. I will keep you in mind should anything change or a position that’s a better fit open up.”
If you are interested in them, let them know when you would like to do the next interview and ideally, get it scheduled when you are on the phone with them.
PS: Here's a bonus phone interview tip! Be sure to ask if they have any questions as well! Interested in reading more about phone interviews? Check out why I love phone interviews here.
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