Are Phone Interviews the Best Option For Narrowing Down Candidates?

September 14th, 2012

A meticulous candidate search can reduce hiring risk and yield great rewards, especially over the long term. But no staffing strategy is 100 percent perfect, and while screening with a fine tooth comb can produce excellent employees, it can also require considerable time and financial investment. You can cull a stack of resumes down to the top twenty candidates, and then call each of the twenty in for a full interview, which may require transportation costs and necessitate pulling interviewers off the floor for hours at a time. Or, you can make use of an inexpensive tool that’s already in place: the phone.

Phone Interviews: Making the Most of a Simple and Powerful Communication Tool

Phone screenings require little more than about fifteen minutes per candidate, and can be conducted with no transportation or overhead costs. Dozens or hundreds of candidates can be screened in an hour (depending on how many screeners are involved), and the process can be standardized and streamlined for efficiency and fairness. Just make sure each call follows the same format, and that phone interview questions are tightly focused on the needs of the position.

Have your screeners listen for clear red flags and yes or no answers to simple questions, such as the following:

1. Do you have a BS degree in computer science or a related field?
2. Are you interested in a job that will require you to travel at least 50 percent of the time?
3. Are you willing to be on call at night and during the weekends?
4. Have you ever managed a staff of at least five people?

Potential Pitfalls of the Phone Interview

Be aware that a phone screening and a true interview are separate endeavors with separate goals. While a real interview allows a hiring manger to assess a candidate’s personality, character, deep background, and cultural aptitude, a phone call offers a very limited window into these areas. The phone screening should not be used for final round hiring or real skill assessment. Among its limits, the phone can reveal false signs of promise and can also allow great candidates to slip away.

Instead, use the phone simply to refine a huge population of candidates into a narrow and manageable pool. Filter out those who are not interested in the challenges of the job, hold less than the minimum qualifications, or have no plans to accept the position if it’s offered. Keep things simple and don’t allow your phone screeners to make assumptions or overreach.

If you need specific guidance while developing your phone screening questions and protocols, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU. Put our experience to the test and make sure you get the most out of your screening and interview strategies.

 

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