As a hiring manager, you understand what a solid resume and cover letter look like. And you acknowledge that despite their promises, they may fail to deliver the candidate you require.

However, an efficient phone screen interview is your safest bet against all those irrelevant interviews. Without it, you may risk wasting the time of senior team members on interviewing candidates who may look excellent on paper but aren’t really suitable for the job.

Although, knowing how to conduct a phone screening interview efficiently is nothing less than art, which is essential if you are from the HR or recruitment team. You need to have the skills to analyze if a candidate has the right skill set and expertise for the job role. 

Read on to find out the art of phone screening interview for a bright HR career path.

How to conduct a phone screening interview?

A phone screening interview isn’t about deciding on who you’re going to hire. Its objective is to identify those applicants who you’re sure won’t make the final cut. A well-conducted phone screening interview ensures that you’ll only grant a face-to-face interview to the most suitable candidates who have pretty good chances to get hired eventually.

Wondering what the key to a successful and efficient phone screening interview is? Let’s find out how to conduct a phone screening interview.

Plan the interview

Just like any other business conversation, you should follow good etiquette while scheduling and conducting a phone screen interview. Respect the interviewee’s time and availability by sticking to the schedule. 

Make sure to review the resumes carefully before scheduling the phone call, and then create a list of interview questions to ask and be consistent with what you ask each candidate. You should make a fair comparison of the candidates while deciding which candidates you’d like to proceed with to the next stage.

Decide what truly matters

While hiring for a position that needs to be filled as early as possible, you apparently won’t seek a candidate that needs a three-month notice period. So, think about your requirements. 

Consider whether you are looking for a full-time, experienced, immediately available graduate who’s ready to relocate? Or are you ready to be flexible to hire the best candidate?

Clear your mind of bias

The end goal of the phone screen interview is to ascertain whether a candidate is suitable for the interview. Bias can depreciate its effectiveness. 

If you are overwhelmed by a candidate’s resume and you’ve already decided to bring them in for the interview, the call is obsolete. Similarly, if you don’t like the candidate based on their cover letter or resume, you’re inclined to deny them the opportunity anyhow. However, you should avoid the risk of making a wrong decision by being objective.

Be open to discussion

The call isn’t simply about the applicants answering your phone screening questions. In fact, it’s an excellent opportunity for you to provide details about the job and the hiring process. Therefore, make sure that by the end of the call, the applicants fully understand the role and the next steps of the hiring process. 

If you’re a recruiter, you will need to invest some time talking to the hiring managers to get a clear picture of the role to explain the same to the respective candidates.

Salary expectations

Money can certainly be an awkward subject to bring up — if not for you, then perhaps for most candidates. However, you need to know whether their salary expectations are within the ballpark of what you have to offer.

This question is pretty relevant for employers since they need to determine how much room for negotiation they have. 

If you’re hiring for a critical, high-level position, you might acknowledge meeting the candidate’s expectations. However, if it’s an entry-level role and the candidate asks for an irrationally high salary, you will probably need to pass.

Knowledge of the company

Once a candidate gets invited for a screening call, it’s pretty reasonable to expect them to conduct research about the organization. And, if they don’t, you have a red flag. You may ask some basic questions, but don’t probe deeper and save them for the final interview.

Resume detail

This is where the phone screening interview is likely to take up most of the scheduled time. Ask the applicants what they expect to get out of the job and how they view themselves adding to the role and the organization. 

Find out if they have the required skills, expertise, and aptitude you’re looking for? You may put forward any questions you have concerning the resume and cover letter. Give them some space to talk here, and allow them to fill in their resume gaps, be it regarding work history, skills, or education and training. Ask follow-up questions if you want more clarity.

Follow up call 

Once you are through your last phone screening interview, you’ll have some tough choices to make: Who among the best candidates to invite to a formal, more meticulous interview. Irrespective of the current hiring market state, you need to make the right choices. After all, you want your team to have the best talent, not your competition.

Therefore, plan quickly to schedule the interviews with the shortlisted candidates and the hiring team. And, if applicable for the position you’re hiring for, you may ask the candidates to send work samples the hiring team can review before the interview.

The Bottom Line

Remember, if you conduct a thorough phone screening interview, you’ll ultimately ensure that the candidates who move forward to the first round of formal interviews are definitely the best your organization can choose from. And that’s a rather good start.

Just make sure you start every phone screening interview with a clear mind and a positive attitude. Besides, think the best of your leading candidates, including their honesty and sincerity.

Besides, keep in mind that you are engaging with an external audience. Therefore, while a professional and courteous screening interview will polish your business reputation, a hurried process and a rude manner won’t reflect well on you or your organization. Remember, the candidates are judging you as closely as you are. 

Editor: Richa Sharma