Now that you have identified your top candidates, the next step in the hiring process is the Phone Interview.  Don’t underestimate the value of an effective phone interview! I typically eliminate about 90% of my candidates through the phone interview step which means the 10% who are awarded the face to face interview have already been fully qualified as meeting the requirements of the position.

So how do you ensure your Hiring Team is prepared to conduct highly effective phone interviews?

1.     Use a Template to drive Consistency

I started using a template about 14 years ago and found it increased my interviewing efficiency ten-fold.  There are many reasons to use a template:

Equality:  If you follow a template, then you are sure to ask each candidate the same questions.  Therefore, when you have finished speaking to every candidate you are able to conduct an “apples to apples” comparison when reviewing your notes.

Notes for future Reference:  No matter how great your memory is, I challenge you to remember the details of every interview you have ever had.  A template will afford you a place to write notes and reactions as the candidate responds to the questions and will give you a tremendous reference later, (sometimes many days later), when you are deciding which candidate to move into the Face-to-Face interview stage.

Organization:  Having a template will ensure you stay on track!  You will be sure to ask those critical questions and truly know if the candidate is qualified when the interview is over.

So how do you go about building a template?  Use your job description!  Qualification by Qualification, Role by Role, build a template outlining those areas you wish to learn about the candidate.

Recruiting Tip:  Spend some time preparing before the interview.  I like to spend roughly ten minutes prior to the interview reviewing the candidate’s resume, making notes of clarification questions I need to ask while speaking to the candidate.  Not only will the candidate be impressed that you actually reviewed her resume prior to the interview, but your interview will be more effective.

2.    Punctuality

Make sure your team members are punctual.  If you have scheduled an interview for a specific time, meet it to the minute!  Becoming negligent in terms of punctuality will likely leave a bad taste in the candidate’s mouth as well as damage the professional reputation of your company.

3.    Greetings

You will want to impress upon your hiring team members that they should always introduce themselves as well as their affiliation with the company.  My favorite greeting is:  Hello Jane, this is Angela Roberts from craresources.  Although I understand this interview was scheduled in advance, is this still a good time for us to talk?

This question will re-commit the candidate to the interview and will gain their full attention.

I would also recommend you ask an icebreaker question.  The majority of candidates get nervous before and during an interview so an icebreaker question will give the candidate a chance to get past her initial nerves.  My favorite icebreaker question is:  Jane, I have your resume in front of me; however, before we begin, tell me a little about yourself and why you are in the market for a new opportunity.  Take copious notes because Jane will likely walk you through her resume, tell you why she wants to leave her current job (or why she already left) as well as provide other insights you will find beneficial…all while you are providing her an outlet to calm her nerves!

4.    Set the Expectation that the Candidate should ask Questions

If a candidate is truly interested in the position and has done her homework on your company she will have questions.  There are no exceptions to this rule (unless you have done all the talking and already answered her questions).

The best way to open up the interview to candidate questions:  What questions do you have about the position or the company?

This open ended question sets the expectation that the candidate does have questions and is incredibly powerful.  By stating “What questions do you have?” rather than “Do you have questions?” candidates who are ill prepared will be easier to spot during the interview process.

5.    Close the Interview

Sell the company.  Sell the position.  Make sure you and your Hiring Team know exactly how you will promote this opportunity.  Remember you are competing for the top candidates, so be sure you express to the candidate what you believe the company and the position offers her.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming the candidate came to you already “sold” and will accept the offer if given.

Finally, tell the candidate the next step in the process.  Be open about when the decisions will be released, how you will communicate the decision to her, and then actually execute that communications plan.  The candidate will appreciate your openness and your follow through.

PS – if you would like some assistance creating an interview template, I will be happy to provide some free assistance.  Just leave a message in the comments section below or shoot me a quick email (aroberts[AT] and I will be in touch!

Written by Leah Brooks

Dedicated to Every Client’s Success,

Angela Roberts

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