Wood Words

Want to Speed up Your Search, Without Sacrificing Quality? Use the phone interview.

After peaking in June 2009 at 11.0%, Tennessee’s unemployment rate has been declining slowly. Very slowly. In fact, the pace of recovery has been so sluggish that at times it’s barely been noticeable.

But make no mistake about it: competition for the best people has heated up. Just a few short years ago, our employment market was flooded with experienced, highly qualified individuals actively looking for work. The problem was, your organization may not have had the right opportunities available for them.

Today, however, you face a different challenge. To identify candidates who are truly worthy of your time and effort, you may be forced to weed through dozens – or hundreds – of unqualified applicants. Lower unemployment and a widening skills gap is making it tougher than it has been in years to identify candidates who meet your requirements.

To compound the problem, candidates are typically on the job market for a shorter period of time. In our current employment market, you need to speed up your search – without sacrificing quality – to hire Middle Tennessee’s finest.

A great way to expedite the process? The phone interview. Conducted properly, phone screens can:

  • Quickly identify promising candidates
  • Increase recruiting efficiency
  • Shorten time-to-hire

If your company is hiring, you can’t afford to waste days personally interviewing the wrong people. So pick up the phone. Call Wood Personnel to find the perfect candidates for you, or use these phone interview tips to weed out imposters and identify front-runners:

  1. Eliminate those who obviously aren’t a good fit. Like in-person interviews, phone screens shouldn’t be conducted with every applicant. Before you start scheduling them, screen-out anyone whose resume is not a good fit for the job.  Follow-up with those candidates via email or mail, reserving phone screens for candidates about whom you’re “on the fence” or need more information.
  2. Prepare carefully. To determine whether or not an individual has the skills and experience you require, prepare a list of questions specific to the position. In addition, use a phone interview to help you assess:
    1. Why this candidate is worthy of an in-person interview.  Ask:  Why should I bring you in for an interview, over the other X candidates for this position?
    2. Whether or not the applicant has the required skills and experience for the job.  Ask the candidate to briefly review his resume and highlight how his qualifications align with the needs of the position.
    3. A candidate’s career goals.  Ask: If you join our team, to what level will you take your job?
    4. What the candidate is looking for in a job.  Ask: Why are you in the job market now?
    5. If the candidate is genuinely interested in your opportunity.  Ask: What can you tell me about our organization?
  3. Try-out screening questions to gauge their effectiveness.  Ask co-workers holding similar positions to answer your proposed questions. You may find out that some are too difficult or that some are better left for in-person interviews. By testing your questions, you’ll be confident that if a candidate falters during the phone screen, it’s because he lacks a critical skill.
  4. Standardize evaluations.  Create a standard “score card” you can use to objectively rate each candidate’s technical competence, communication skills, experience and overall desirability.  Fill this out for each interviewee at the conclusion of his phone call.
  5. Know your candidate.  Before you pick up the phone, review the candidate’s resume and conduct a quick online search.  Use the information you learn to create a few applicant-specific questions that will verify some of the claims he makes on his resume.
  6. Build rapport.  Your interviewee will likely be nervous.  Beginning with a simple, direct question will put the candidate at ease and help you quickly get down to work.
  7. Take notes.  Before you know candidates well, it’s easy to get them confused.  Writing down your thoughts and impressions during your interviews will help you better communicate results with others and accurately recall your conversations.
  8. Keep it short.  A phone interview is a screening mechanism – a way for you to determine which candidates are worth bringing in for in-person interviews.  As such, limit the time you spend on each to 15 – 20 minutes.  To help you stick to this time limit, tell each candidate you only have 15 minutes to get through your questions.
  9. End on a positive note.  No matter how poorly a phone screen goes, keep your feedback and wrap-up generic.  Otherwise, you may find yourself spending extra time justifying your decision to each candidate.  End with a “thank you” and indicate that HR will follow-up with him on next steps shortly.

Phone screens are an extremely valuable interviewing tool. But quite honestly, they can be time-consuming and distract you from other important tasks. Wood Personnel can help, by presenting only thoroughly screened candidates who are the right fit for your available opportunity. Contact our Hendersonville employment agency today.