As a Recruiting Manager, I receive hundreds of resumes for every job I post. After reviewing them, the next step in my process is a quick phone interview. The phone interview saves me time by allowing me to pre-screen candidates and get information that doesn’t appear in the cover letter or resume. When done right, phone interviews help narrow down the pool of candidates before bringing finalists in for a face-to-face interview.
When I conduct a phone interview, I’m looking for 5 things:
Believe it or not, but you can actually hear energy on the phone. If you answer the phone and talk to me with little interest, I’m not going to invite you for a face-to-face interview. I want to hire someone with a happy and positive demeanor. Someone with enthusiasm. Someone with energy!
- Understanding of the job
When I call a candidate, I ask what they know about our company, give them a quick overview of the company as a whole, have them tell me about their experience, and after that, I’ll go into specifics about the job. I purposely avoid talking about the position until they tell me about themselves. I do this for one reason – to find out if they actually read the job posting and understand the job. If I tell them about the position first, then they will just reiterate what I just told them and it would defeat the purpose.
- Basic qualifications and questions about their resume
I ask basic questions about their experience that I want answered before I bring them in for a face-to-face interview. For example, why is there a three year gap between jobs? Ask open ended questions so you can get the candidate to open up and talk.
How soon are you available to start? Are you going backpacking through Europe over the next three months or can you start a new position in a reasonable amount of time?
I want a candidate that is professional and communicates well. If I call someone unexpectedly and music is blaring in the background, I give them a minute to find a quiet place or we schedule time to talk. If we have a scheduled call and they are in a loud or public place, then I’m probably not asking you to come in and meet with me. When I phone interview someone, I want clear, distraction free communication.
The length of a phone interview doesn’t necessarily matter as long as you get all the information you need from the call. A phone interview is meant to confirm what you already suspect – based on their resume and phone skills, that this person has the experience, required skill set and personality to succeed.
In my next blog, I’ll explain how to conduct a proper phone interview.