As part of your recruitment process a phone interview (or Skype interview) can help you screen out candidates so you only meet the best ones face to face, saving time. However telephone interviewing can be beset with issues, so here are 8 telephone interview tips to improve your phone interviews, get better candidates in less time and not get so stressed.

phonebox sofa - a good telephone interview tips?

Why would you bother with a phone interview?

Phone interviews can save you time and get help get better results. Not only that, they can help you hear your candidates in a different light. As the successful candidate needs to interact with your clients on the phone, why wouldn’t you want to give a phone interview and know what they’re like on the phone?

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Telephone interview tips for successful phone interviews

It’s really easy to think that telephone interview tips are the same as normal interviewing tips. However, you’ve probably got a different objective, your candidate isn’t as used to this method and you have other distractions to deal with. Good phone interviews need a little planning first.

You’re probably using your telephone interviews as a screening tactic, so you only meet the best people face to face – so how long do you want for each phone call? To check them out, get some basic information and sell the next stage in the process – 15 minutes? Plan it, tell the candidate and then manage the call to stay to time.

  1. Sort out your technology. Your phone interviews are likely to be done in the office, so your technology should be OK. However, if you were planning to interview from home, or somewhere else, test first! It’s really hard if there are crackles on the line, your phone’s speaker is dodgy or there is no mobile reception.
  2. Choose a good location. The obvious things here are being interrupted or getting distracted. You might be used to the background noise in your office, but it will be more obvious to the person at the other end of the phone. Consider distractions, you don’t want your team interrupting, nor do you want to start wondering what your staff are up to when you’re trying to concentrate on your interviewee. Use a quiet room for your phone interviews.
  3. Don’t forget your normal preparation. It’s easy to forget all the normal things (preparing questions, scripts, etc.) when you’re concentrating on a different delivery method. How will you open (and close) the call, what are the things you want to find out, what are the next steps after the phone call?
  4. Be in control and welcoming. It’s your job to get the discussion going and you need to control it. First impressions count in in-person or on the phone. You need to sound formal and professional, but also friendly and personable. They might never have done a telephone interview before, set out the process before asking them questions to put them at ease.
  5. Take notes: You may want to take notes, how will you do that? Having a “hands free headset” allows this to be done easily. A speaker phone might allow this, but often degrades the sound. However, avoid making your notes too detailed, or they’ll affect the quality of your discussion.
  6. Concentrate: It’s easy to think you can multi-task, as it’s “only a phone call” and they can’t see. How many times have you been on the phone and wondered what the other person is doing because of the background noises or apparent inattention…… pardon? So, no eating, texting or doodling and certainly avoid sitting by your PC and being tempted to email! If you start trying to do other things while your phone interview is ongoing, you’ll get distracted and your performance will suffer.
  7. Things you might need. Get things nearby before you start, glass of water, paper, pen etc.  You mant want your mobile nearby, in case you need to call them (technology fault), but leave it on silent.
  8. Smile down the phone. It’s an old sales adage, but it works! The other party can tell you’re happier and will thus relax more. If anything, you need to work even harder at this for a telephone interview. Being polite, courteous, and presenting a friendly face are part of your firm’s marketing.

As with all interviews

Before you start, have a plan.

  • How will you take notes and record the results?
  • What results do you want, what’s good, bad, and unacceptable?
  • How will you tell them the next steps, or that they’re been rejected?
  • What are the main bits of information you want to tell them?

Screening candidates using telephone interviews can give good results and save time. What are your experiences?

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Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

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