10 Minute Phone Screen and Done

Stephanie TroianoCandidate Selection Process Strategy, Initial Interviews, Interview for Achievement, Interview for Attitude, Interview for Culture Fits, News, Using Pre-Employment Assessment Tests1 Comment

guy holding a cell phone with a suit on

Eliminate Nightmare Candidates Quickly with a 10-Minute Phone Screen

Phone screens provide a unique opportunity to assessing candidates that in-person interviews do not. During a phone screen, you are relying on only the voice on the other end of the line and not as many other cues that in-person interviews provide. This enables you to distinguish subtle signs that you might not otherwise notice.

The Candidate is Unprepared

How could they?

When you have an appointment with a candidate and they are late or miss your call at your scheduled time, this is a bad sign. Let that red flag fly! This same logic applies for in-person interviews as well; if there is traffic or an accident on the freeway getting to the interview, this probably means the candidate didn’t allow enough time for the possibility of such circumstances, which means they didn’t think ahead, which means they might make bad decisions, which means you don’t want to have a bad decision maker on your team, right? Right.

Their Demeanor or Phone Etiquette Leaves Something to Be Desired

They answer the phone irritated, like they just woke up, or sigh heavily when asked a question. You introduce yourself and ask if this is still a good time to talk and can’t help but feel like you just interrupted them. You begin your typical interview line of questioning and they become further annoyed or hesitant to share information, or are otherwise disengaged somehow.

Just because you are conducting a phone screen as opposed to an in-person interview doesn’t make the circumstances different. You are still conducting a legitimate interview and your candidate should take it just as seriously.

They Know Nothing About Your Company

Generally, at the beginning of an interview, you may tell the candidate a bit about your company. Usually, you ask what they know about the company even before that. If a candidate hasn’t bothered to do their research on your company and doesn’t know really what makes you unique from your competitors, this is likely a negative indicator. They may not be genuinely interested in the position and this often can leave you with a bad first impression. Rightly so.

Getting Information Out of Them Feels Like Pulling Teeth

And you’re not a dentist. You’re a manager, or boss, or recruiter, ill equipped with only a pen and paper for notes, not dental-grade teeth/past work history extracting equipment. When you ask a candidate about previous positions they’ve held and they can’t remember specifics, or fumble through trying to explain things in a cohesive way, run the other way.

It is a bad indication when you ask a candidate a direct question and they cannot answer your inquiry with a simple, direct answer. Good candidates may not always remember everything on a whim, but should have a good idea about what they did and how. If they fail to provide answers to direct questions, consider this a warning sign that your candidate could be stretching the truth, covering something up, or withholding information.

If a candidate is hesitant about divulging their previous supervisor’s or bosses names to you or responds with “he/she doesn’t work there anymore” when you ask if so-and-so would give them a reference, this is likely a bad sign. If they become defensive or speak negatively of their boss during this time, this is even worse! Firstly, because you didn’t ask if so-and-so still worked there, you asked if they would give a reference. Secondly, because this may show that the candidate is assigning blame to his or her previous boss, and no one likes a blamer.

They Don’t Have Questions

Candidates don’t have to grill you about the position or company, but, if they’re genuinely interested in the role, they should have questions that come up during your time together.

Identifying the Subtleties

Any one of these warning signs can quickly and easily weed out the good from the bad candidates. Bad candidates will often reveal themselves in many subtle ways. Being aware of these subtleties is key to determining whether you are on the right path or moving down a slippery slope with your potential prospects!

Now that you think you’ve weeded out the potential disasters that could have hit your workforce, be sure to implement a pre-hire testing program in order to further measure your candidate’s skills, personality, and behavioral preferences so you know what to expect from your candidates in the next step of the process!

One Comment on “10 Minute Phone Screen and Done”

  1. Great article. Glad we are doing this correctly. I have weeded out the majority of candidates with a phone interview first for all of the reasons mentioned in the article. Also, I am out in the field and never know when work is going to take longer than planned so it’s difficult to schedule appointments. This way I am only scheduling time to meet the best candidate.

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