How To Give A Phone Interview


The phone interview is a key element in the hiring process. Follow these tips on how to give a phone interview if you want to hire the best person for the job.

Image of a man giving a phone interview

You can’t build a strong team of employees without hiring good people. And to do that, you need to be able to identify those people in a vast field of candidates. Follow these tips on how to give a phone interview and you’ll be one step closer to finding the right person for the job.

Phone interviews generally come after you have sifted through resumes and found some promising candidates, but before inviting anyone in for in-person interviews. Holding a phone interview with applicants is a highly necessary piece of the hiring process.

In just 15 minutes on the phone you can make vital screening decisions without wasting much of their time or yours. More importantly, it gives you a chance to get a feel for that person’s ability to express themselves verbally and find out more about them without the added pressure and distraction of speaking face-to-face. A phone interview also allows you to assess their grasp of vocab, hear how they use inflection and vocal tones, and you can even gauge their enthusiasm for the job.

Here is everything you need to know when it comes to how to give a phone interview:

Step 1: Schedule

  1. Contact the applicants you deem worthy of an initial phone interview and let them know that you’d like to speak with them.
  2. Know your schedule and give them their choice of a few different days and times that work for you.
  3. Tell them to call you at the time they select. Don’t be the one calling them. This will be a good indication of their promptness and timeliness.
  4. Send them a calendar invite with email confirmation to document the meeting time and make sure there is no confusion on the date/time.

Step 2: Prepare

Before the phone interview even begins go ahead and review the resume and cover letter of the person you will be speaking with. Then, ready your list of questions based on what you know about them and what information you are looking for. Some potential questions may look like this:

  1. Why are you on the job market?
  2. What do you know about our company?
  3. What attracted you to this position?
  4. Can you tell me about how your past job experience has prepared you for success in this role?
  5. What do you hope to achieve in this position?
  6. How do you pronounce the red condiment that many people dip french fries in? (Note: you can’t trust anyone who pronounces it “kat-sup”)

It’s best to customize some of the questions based on the job and applicant. Try having about 10 questions and stay flexible, beacuse the conversation will hopefully naturally flow and prompt follow-up questions.

You’ll also want to outline some of your goals for the conversation before the phone interview ever begins to keep yourself focused during the call and to make sure you get all the information you need. Think of these as questions you want answers to that you can’t exactly rattle off word for word.

  • Why are they actually looking for a job? Don’t believe everything you read on a resume. Try to get an authentic answer to this question.
  • What is their actual interest level in the job? Anyone who is very interested will have researched your company well.
  • What motivates them? What are their values? What type of environment do they work best in? Are they a team player? You aren’t going to get very substantial answers to these questions if you just flat out ask. You’ve got to rely on your list of questions to evoke the answers and get examples so you can paint a clear picture of the applicant.

3. Showtime

Alright, the applicant called you on time and you’ve got their resume in front of you with plenty of space to jot down some notes. Here we go!

  1. Don’t multi-task. Focus on the interview at hand and give it your full attention.
  2. Begin with an intro. Briefly tell the applicant about yourself and your role within the company. This is informative for them and sets a conversational tone.
  3. Move into your questions starting with the more basic ones and move into the more complex ones. Do your best to let the conversation flow naturally and don’t just read off your list of questions.
  4. Look for real insight and read between the lines during their responses. Record not only their answers in your notes, but also how they answered them (with confidence, trouble articulating, etc).
  5. Don’t try to fill any awkward silence on the part of the interviewee. Allow it to happen to force answers.
  6. Match the appropriate answers you receive with the outlined expectations you have from your preparation phase.
  7. After you’ve got all your questions answered, ask them if they have any. Hopefully they will ask more about the position, the company, and maybe even you. A great interviewee asks great questions.
  8. Finally, thank the candidate for their time and explain a timeline for the next steps and when they can expect to hear back from you.

4. The Aftermath

Now you must assess the applicant after having spoken with them during the phone interview.

  • How serious are they about the position?
  • Were they able to respond intelligently?
  • Did you get the answers you needed to your questions?
  • Do you see them as someone who could do the job successfully?
  • Are they among your top choices to invite in for a face-to-face interview?

Review the notes you kept during the conversation. Take a few minutes immediately after the phone interview to think about these things and ruminate on the applicant. If you like them for another interview, don’t jump right in and extend the invitation. Instead, complete each of your necessary phone interviews first. Then, go back and decide who warrants some face time.

There you go! Stick to this advice on how to give a phone interview and you’ll successfully navigate the field of applicants.

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