Telephone interview tips for hiring managers and HR specialists

April Fenton 16.08.2012

Telephone interviews are typically the first stage of the recruitment process and are a time efficient way of establishing if an applicant is potentially worthy of meeting in person.

However what many companies forget is that they also give the candidate an opportunity to suss this out too!

The conversation primarily involves a run through of how relevant their skills and experience are to the role and to assess their personality. Rarely does the interviewer give much more information about the position and company and there is little opportunity for the candidate to ask questions - leaving this out is a big mistake! In this market, desirable IT professionals tend to be passive about their job search and have plenty of options. That’s why this first contact needs to show how amazing the opportunity is and really entice and encourage them to find out more.

Don't leave a bad impression with the candidate

I have seen interviewers who have:

  • Forgotten about the scheduled call
  • Rang late, with no apology offered
  • Sounded distracted 
  • Not looked properly at the CV prior to the call
  • Unsure what position the interviewee was being considered for

This behaviour does not reflect well on the organisation and is a big turn off for applicants.

Inside advice from someone who works closely with the interviewee

  • Ring the applicant on time, from a quiet place where you will not be distracted
  • Introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the call
  • Have read the CV thoroughly beforehand and know exactly what job they are being interviewed for
  • Ask straight forward questions, tricky ones are rarely appreciated and do not tend to yield valuable information
  • 'Sell' the company and role.  Maybe explain why you joined, what you like about working there
  • Ask if they have any questions
  • Thank them for taking the call and let them know when they can expect feedback

Companies simply cannot grill people for ten minutes, hang up and then expect them to be over the moon at the prospect of a face to face meeting.

This is definitely one situation where 'treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen' does not work so help us do our job and always leave job applicants wanting more. You can then decide if you want more of them!

April Fenton's picture
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