You could conduct a kick-ass recruitment intake meeting asking the hiring manager all the right questions and source candidates like a beast, but if you don’t conduct a phone interview like a pro, everything after that point in the recruitment process will fall apart.

Everyone knows that interviews are usually hard for candidates, but conducting phone interviews is sometimes harder for the interviewer. For various reasons – it could be that they’re not confident they know how to conduct a phone interview or absolutely exhausted from having had their tenth phone screen that day.

No matter how much you love recruiting, it can get exhausting having back to back interviews.

So do you just scrap the phone interview altogether and move straight to the next step? The answer is no, but sadly, there are recruiters who do.

If you’re choosing not to conduct a phone interview out of sheer exhaustion, it could end up costing you lots of time

Phone Interviews statistics in Recruitment

Source: Glassdoor

Sure, conducting phone interviews actually extends your recruitment process by slightly over a week (7 to 8 business days to be exact), but the value they offer is unquestionable.

A week sounds like a lot of time, especially when the average recruitment process is about 42 days and these days, the talent acquisition industry is obsessed with shortening that.

Shortening time-to-fill metrics is okay if it doesn’t impact the flow of the recruitment process.

Good talent acquisition folks though know that there comes a point when a recruitment process that’s too short is inefficient if it ruins candidate experience, pisses off hiring managers and exhausts recruiters, it’s not worth it.

Choosing not to conduct a phone interview will end up costing you valuable time if you interview candidates who are not even close to having the minimum skills for the job. That’s something you want to screen for early on so that you don’t waste your time and theirs.

Okay, so you’re convinced that you should skip the phone interview (I hope), here’s what you want to avoid:

What most interviewers do wrong when they conduct a phone interview

They are on autopilot.

They look at the phone interview as ‘just another thing you do’ in the recruitment process. Something you can tick it off the checklist and move on to the real interview on-site  (the face-to-face interview).

In actuality, that’s actually halfway through the recruitment process.

The Recruitment Process

I can’t blame recruiters (or anyone else who conducts the phone interview) who think this way, because we’ve been trained to believe that phone interviews have one purpose  – to determine if the candidate meets the minimum requirements to move forward to the next step.

Phone interviews are far more important than just finding out if a candidate has the minimum requirements. They are essential to offer negotiations

And this is the part average recruiters ignore. They file their phone interview notes away without revisiting them for these key reasons:

  1. Finding out a candidate’s real motivations for wanting a new job, especially for the passive candidates you sourced
  2. Creating a rapport with candidates
  3. Going back to phone interview notes when you have to negotiate a job offer with the candidate (more on that below)

The single most important question to ask when you conduct a phone interview

Nope, it’s not the dreaded “what are your salary expectations” question. Every good phone interview template will include that question.

You should be asking your candidates “what are you looking for in your next role that you don’t have in your current position”

Here’s why:

There is no perfect job. No matter how happy someone is in their current role, there is something motivating them to speak with you about a new one. If they’re an active candidate who applied to the job posting, it’s easier to figure out their motivations, especially if they’re not currently employed.

If you’ve sourced a passive candidate though, you need to have a clear understanding of why they would want to leave their job and accept yours. This information will come in handy if you have to negotiate a job offer with them down the road. You should never put yourself in a position where you’re forcing someone to accept a job, but you can ask them to revert back to your initial discussion and remind them about their motivation for leaving even considering a new job.

It could be that they have an insanely long commute to work, they’re unhappy with the projects they’re working on, there doesn’t seem to be any room for growth, etc.

Whatever it is, you need to understand this at the phone interview and should never end one without getting this answered.

How do you conduct a phone interview that rocks?

Phone Interview Template - Download in Word or Google DocFirst things first, start by looking at your current phone interview guide or template. When was the last time you updated it? Does your phone interview template still include outdated questions like “why should we hire you”?

If it does, get rid of it!

You don’t have to start from scratch. I’ve created a phone interview template that you can download in MS Word or Google Docs.

The phone interview template comes with thirteen questions that are absolutely crucial to ensuring your recruitment process is efficient and that the candidate experience is respected throughout.

Here’s what else this phone interview template has that your old one doesn’t

A scorecard that allows you to fairly compare all the candidates you interview by ranking and identify the strongest candidates. In a time when everything is about data, a scorecard helps you measure your hiring decision.

Download the Phone Interview Template Here!




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