When they’re done right, phone interviews can save time by pre-screening candidates and provide information you won’t find in any resume. Done poorly, they can be awkward, impersonal, and ultimately ineffective as a screening tool. These 10 Tips will help you become a more effective interviewer, and narrow down candidates before face-to-face interviews:
1. Be Prepared.
You wouldn’t go to a job interview without learning a little about the company — so don’t conduct a phone interview without familiarizing yourself with the candidate’s background. Before your call, block out some time to review the candidate’s resume, LinkedIn profile, and any other relevant information.
2. Be curious.
If you work at a staffing agency, chances are you’ve seen a lot of resumes. Make the resume review process more interesting by cultivating curiosity about the person you’re interviewing. As you review the profile, jot down any questions you have.
3. Choose a quiet place.
More and more, people are conducting business outside of the office, and there’s no reason why you can’t do your interview offsite — just make sure the location you choose is quiet, and has good connectivity. Loud coffee grinders, barking dogs and poor reception can be distracting.
4. Stay focused.
Ever had a phone conversation with someone who is reading an email or browsing the Internet at the same time? It’s about as frustrating as a dinner date with someone who’s glued to their phone. Resist the urge to check email, read status updates or conduct other business during an interview.
5. Be brief.
Phone interviews are meant to be more efficient than face-to-face interviews, so try to limit your call to no more than 30 to 45 minutes. We’ve heard this referred to as the 5/20/5 rule: spend about five minutes introducing yourself and the company you represent, and describing the position. Then, spend about 20 minutes interviewing. Use the last five minutes of the call to answer questions from the candidate, and communicate next steps.
6. Ask thoughtful questions.
You already have the candidate’s resume — so ask questions that dig a little deeper. For example, ask about short-term and long-term career goals. Ask about financial and personal goals, too. The answers may provide practical information (the client is open to relocating to another city), financial insights (they need upward mobility to be happy) or clues about cultural fit (they want a better work/life balance). Questions like, “What career accomplishment are you most proud of?” and “What qualities are most important to you when seeking a new position?” provoke more thoughtful answers than, “What did you do at your last job?”
7. Ask about likes and dislikes.
Everyone likes to talk about strengths. No one likes to admit weaknesses. A good way to get around the classic interview question, while still getting the information you want, is to ask candidates what professional tasks they like and dislike most. People usually enjoy doing things they are best at, and dislike tasks where they feel less competent. If your candidate dislikes a task that’s a major part of the prospective job, you’ll know it’s not a good fit.
8. Listen more than you talk.
It’s good to be forthcoming and answer relevant questions. However, be sure to keep the focus on the candidate, and do more listening than speaking. The good thing about this approach is that you can relax and worry less about what you’re going to say. After all, the interview is not about you: it’s about them.
9. Take notes.
Staffing companies conduct countless interviews, and it would be unreasonable to expect you to remember every detail you discussed. Instead, take notes during your call. This way, you can share the information you learned with other people involved in hiring decisions.
10. Say thanks.
Thank the candidate for their time, and let them know you’ll follow up.
Staffing companies bridge the gap between job seekers and employers, and when you prepare well for your a phone interviews, you’ll create a more favorable first impression for both parties. At Triumph Business Capital, we’re committed to helping staffing companies like yours succeed. Need help with funding or capital expenses? Call us any time.