How to conduct phone interviews – a guide for hiring managers

In the dynamic world of recruitment, phone interviews have become an essential tool for screening candidates and narrowing down the pool of potential hires. While these virtual conversations offer convenience and flexibility, they can also present challenges for hiring managers who are less accustomed to conducting interviews over the phone.

If you’re a hiring manager who finds yourself occasionally tasked with phone interviews, fear not! This guide will equip you with the best practice tips to ensure your phone interviews are effective, engaging, and productive.

When should you use phone interviews?

Phone interviews offer several advantages over traditional in-person interviews, making them a valuable tool for hiring managers. Here are some reasons why it might be appropriate to conduct a phone interview:

  1. Initial Candidate Screening: Phone interviews are a great way to quickly screen a large pool of candidates and identify those who best align with the job requirements. This initial screening can help narrow down the pool to a more manageable number of candidates for in-person interviews.
  2. Geographic Flexibility: Phone interviews eliminate geographical barriers, allowing you to consider candidates from a wider range of locations. This can expand the talent pool and uncover qualified individuals who might not otherwise be considered due to their location.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Phone interviews are significantly less expensive than in-person interviews, saving time and resources for both you and the candidate. Eliminating travel costs and reducing scheduling conflicts makes the process more efficient and cost-effective.
  4. Convenience and Accessibility: Phone interviews offer convenience and accessibility for both parties. Candidates can participate from the comfort of their homes or offices, and you can conduct interviews from a variety of locations.
  5. Early Assessment of Communication Skills: Phone interviews provide an opportunity to assess a candidate’s verbal communication skills, which are crucial for many roles. This early assessment can help identify candidates who can effectively communicate and collaborate effectively. This would be particularly useful if you’re recruiting for a customer service or public facing role.
  6. Identifying Cultural Fit: Phone interviews can also help gauge a candidate’s cultural fit with the company. By asking about their work style, values, and aspirations, you can assess whether the candidate would align well with the company’s culture.
  7. Providing Feedback and Guidance: Phone interviews can also serve as a platform for providing feedback and guidance to candidates. Hiring managers can offer constructive suggestions for improvement, helping candidates enhance their interviewing skills and prepare for future opportunities.

How should you conduct a phone interview?

Before you pick up the phone, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly.

Preparation is Key: Setting the Stage for Success

  1. Reviewing the Candidate’s CV: Familiarise yourself with the candidate’s background, skills, and experience to tailor your questions accordingly.
  2. Establishing a Quiet Space: Choose a quiet, distraction-free environment to ensure a focused conversation.
  3. Preparing a List of Questions: Develop a set of questions that align with the job requirements and assess the candidate’s fit for the role. This will keep the conversation on track and allow you to assess candidates fairly.
  4. Reviewing Company Information: Be ready to provide concise and informative answers about your company’s culture, values, and mission.

Engaging the Candidate: Creating a Positive and Productive Dialogue

  1. Establish a Rapport: Begin the conversation with a warm and welcoming tone to put the candidate at ease.
  2. Active Listening: Pay close attention to the candidate’s responses, demonstrating genuine interest in their qualifications.
  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage elaboration and in-depth responses to gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s experiences.
  4. Encourage Questions: Invite the candidate to ask questions about the role, the company, or the interview process.

Assessing the Candidate: Evaluating Fit and Potential

  1. Focus on Relevant Skills and Experience: Tailor your questions to assess the candidate’s specific skills and experience required for the role. Remember, that this is likely a screening conversation and you don’t need to go too in-depth. Save that for in-person interviews.
  2. Observe Communication Skills: Pay attention to the candidate’s communication style, clarity, and professionalism. This will give you an idea on their fit in your team as well.

Leaving a Lasting Impression: Concluding the Interview Effectively

  1. Summarise Key Points: Briefly recap the main takeaways from the interview, demonstrating your attentiveness.
  2. Reiterate Next Steps: Clearly outline the next steps in the hiring process, including timelines and expectations.
  3. Express Gratitude: Thank the candidate for their time and consideration.

The benefits of phone interviews

Phone interviews offer a versatile and effective method for screening, assessing, and connecting with potential candidates. It’s a great way of seeing beyond someone’s CV and avoid the pitfall of dismissing “overqualified” candidates. By using the advantages of phone interviews, companies can expand their talent pool, streamline the hiring process, and identify top talent who are well-suited for the role and the company culture.

Make a positive impression

Remember, phone interviews are not just about assessing candidates; they also provide an opportunity for your company to make a positive impression. By following these best practices, you can conduct effective phone interviews that leave a lasting impression on candidates and help you identify top talent for your organisation.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.