Getting the Most Out of Telephone Interview Questions & Phone Screenings

Getting the Most Out of Telephone Interview Questions & Phone Screenings

We’re sure you’re all too familiar with the headaches of the interview process. It’s often time-consuming and frustrating. How many times have you sourced a candidate, set up an interview with them after a promising start, only for your client to dismiss them out of hand?

One great way to make the process quicker and smoother is by vetting candidates over the phone first. Phone interviews are easier to arrange and are a classic way of screening candidates before sending them on to your clients. Done properly, you can quickly get an idea of which candidates are really worth the effort.

But in order to get the desired results from the phone screening process, you need to ask the right questions. Here are our top tips on how to make the most out of phone interviews.

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General Tips For Telephone Interview Screenings

There are some yes/no questions that you need to get out of the way, before you get down to business. Which questions to ask largely depends on the kind of position it is, and which industry you’re in.

Of course, ensure that the candidate has the right to work in the UK. If the candidate will need to use a car, find out if they have a full clean driving license. If your client needs employees to have a certain license, health and safety certificate or something similar, establish whether the candidate has these. If there is a certain software or piece of equipment that they’ll be using, ensure that they’re familiar with it (or are qualified to use it, if applicable).

Ask Questions About Their Current Work Status

This is one of the key things you need to know, so find out in the phone interview. Ask about their notice period for their current job, and when they would be available to start working for your client.

You might discover, for example, that they’re moving to your city and would need time to settle in. If you need someone to start immediately, you’ve saved yourself a lot of time by asking this question before meeting them.

Take this chance to also ask them why they’re leaving their current job. It gives you an idea of what they’re missing in their current position, and allows you the chance to spot any early warning signs. If they start badmouthing their employer, for example, it might be a sign that they’re not very professional.

Question if They Did Their Research

The next step is to ask questions which will reveal how much they actually know about your client’s company. Some candidates, as you’re no doubt aware, simply apply for every job under the sun. These people are only interested in earning money, and probably don’t have the dedication and motivation that you’re looking for.

Ask questions such as:

  • Why do you think you’re a good fit for this position?
  • What was it about this company that made you interested in applying?
  • Why do you think you’d enjoy working for them?

If they give you generic, one-size-fits-all answers, you’ll know they aren’t truly interested and may not have the enthusiasm that you’re looking for. If they seem genuinely excited, and have done their research, you might be on to a winner.

Confirm Their Experience and Skills

You’ve likely got their CV in front of you, but you should confirm what it says. Candidates do lie sometimes, of course – make sure that they can confirm what they’ve already told you.

Depending on your company, make sure that they’ve got the right skills and experience to fit their potential new role. This also gives you an opportunity to ask about any gaps in their work history, or anything you’d like to ask about their experience. Go into as much detail as you need to confirm that they really are telling the truth, otherwise it might blow back in your face if they don’t get through the interview with your client.

Establish Their Work Style By Asking Questions About Their Current Role

Importantly, you need to figure out if this candidate will get on well within a team and work in the style that suits your client. Find out what kind of work environment they’re used to working in, and which they perform best in. Do they work best alone, or within a team? Are they comfortable tackling things on their own, or will they need guidance? How good are they with deadlines and reports, if applicable?

Salary Expectations

It’s important, at this stage, to get an idea of the salary that this candidate expects from the position. Establish what they’re currently making, for a good baseline. Then figure out if they’d be happy to stay there, or whether they’re looking for a salary increase.

If they’re asking for more than your client is willing to pay, it gives you an opportunity to discuss what’s on offer and whether it’s a deal breaker for them. Establishing salary expectations now will save them falling down right at the last hurdle!

Telephone Interview Warning Signs

To finish off, we’ll give you a brief list of the things to watch out for in the phone screening process. Being able to pick up on signals that the candidate isn’t a right fit for your client is essential at this stage. If you notice any of the following, think carefully before taking the interview process any further.

  • Discrepancies between their CV, LinkedIn profile, and what they say: This could be an indicator that they’re not being truthful somewhere about their experience or job history.
  • Lack of enthusiasm: You should be looking for a candidate who’s excited about their potential future career, and genuinely loves what they do. If you don’t get this vibe, look elsewhere.
  • Bad attitude: Be wary of a candidate who has a negative attitude. This can take the form of rudeness, arrogance, or even indifference. It could be a sign that they won’t work well in a team. Don’t worry too much about nervousness – this is to be expected.
  • Confusion, uncertainty or backtracking: Make sure you select a candidate who knows what they want, understands everything you ask them and doesn’t keep changing their mind.

Follow the above tips and you’ll be a pro at conducting the best phone interviews in no time. Remember, above all else, listen to your gut. If your instinct tells you there’s something wrong, or that the candidate is a great match, don’t ignore it!