Hiring Manager – How to Conduct an Interview Via Phone

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The phone screen is a pivotal point in the recruitment process. Here we can gauge the depth of the candidate’s experience as well as get a feel for their personality and overall character. Phone screens are less formal thus setting the candidate more at ease where they can better reveal their true communication style. The phone screen will be your first real point of contact with the candidate therefore it plays a crucial part in developing a relationship with the candidate. Follow the six steps below and you will be sure to conduct a successful phone screen.

Step One: Introduction – Provide a brief, detailed introduction where you are able to quickly take charge while laying out facts up front. Example: “This is Kelly Smith, Recruiter, with Company X. I noticed that you applied to our Certified Orthotist position opening. Do you have 10 to 15 minutes to speak with me right now? Great; thank you. First I will tell you a little bit about what you may or may not know about Company X. Then I will refresh your memory of the position that you applied for by providing you with a big picture description of the position. Lastly I will ask you some basic questions designed to get to know you better.”

Step Two: Provide a brief company ‘commercial’ – An example of a commercial: “Company X is rated #162 on the Fortune 200 list of companies. We are in an aggressive growth mode and doing extremely well financially. Company X heavily promotes from within. We have a business casual environment. Company X offers some of the best benefits in the Nation with three weeks paid vacation as well as over a week of holiday pay, so you get at least a month of paid time off your first year with us. We offer a full benefits package beginning with your first day of employment.” Your commercial should be tailored to attract the attention of the candidate that you are interested in.

Step Three: Provide a brief job description – Sample job description: “The Certified Orthotist will be responsible for all stages of design, fabrication, fitting and maintenance of orthotic devices related to patients. The Certified Orthotist will assist physicians with the evaluation and analysis of the patients need for orthotic services. Responsibilities include identifying and reconciling issues/problems to ensure patient satisfaction with devices provided. There will be approximately 20% travel required for this position. The majority of the travel will be by air going to our vendor sites primarily located in Arizona, Florida and Colorado.”

Step Four: Get the Facts first – Verify their current place of employment, title and current income package. For some professions you will need to make sure that the candidate clarifies what their base salary is and what their bonus and/or commissions amount to yearly. It is also important to record any auto allowances, expense accounts or other financial incentives being provided to the candidate at this time. If the conversation is flowing freely, now might be a good time to ask the candidate what income they are seeking in their next position of employment.

Step Five: Ask basic questions– While each industry has unique questions that should be asked to properly screen for qualified candidates there are a few questions that should be asked for every profession. The following is a list of questions that should be included in every phone screen: “Name the computer skills that you are most proficient with. What aspects of your skill set do you consider most crucial in a work environment? Why did you apply to this position? What do you think are the key skills and characteristics of a successful (fill in with the title you are seeking to fill)? What do you like best about your current position of employment? What is the most frustrating thing you’ve encountered on the job this week/month?”

Step Six: Conclusion – Wrap up your conversation: “Thank you. I will pass this information that you have provided, along with your resume, on to the hiring manager. The hiring manager will let me know if they would like to proceed with an interview or if they think that there are stronger candidates for the role. You will be provided with follow-up information relating to our conversation within 2 to 5 business days.”

Sample phone screen:

Phone Screen
Business Consultant #12626

Job description: The Business Consultant will facilitate meetings to identify the issue, document the current issue/process, determine root cause and brainstorm solution ideas. Will work with the I.T. team and the Provider Network Operations team to plan the road map for future development of business processes and systems within assigned area. Diplomacy, tact, relationship building and an analytical mindset will be key skills required for success in this role.

For recruiter to source: 49K – 66K – Prefer Six Sigma certification – Healthcare experience is a plus, but not required. Must be able to influence others…be able to tell people things that they do not want to hear. Must be good at leading meetings and presenting data to ‘higher-ups’.

Name of Applicant:
Name of interviewer:
Current company working for and title:
Current income:

Name the computer skills are you most proficient with:

Do you hold any degrees or certifications?

What aspects of your skill set do you consider most crucial in a work environment?

What do you like best about your current place of employment?

Have you ever facilitated a meeting before? What duties were you responsible for in facilitating the meeting?

Why are you interested in this position?

INTERPERSONAL SAVVY Tell me about a time when you built strong relationships where none existed before.

Do you hold any six-sigma certifications?

What (Quality Control – Six-Sigma) methodologies and tools are you familiar with?

Do you know what DMAIC stands for? (Determined Measure Analyze Improve Control)

Sometimes it is necessary to candidly confront a customer, boss or colleague. Think of a particularly challenging example. What did you do?

Tell me about a unique approach that you took to solve a problem. How did you come up with the approach? Did you consider other options? If so, what were they?

Tell me about a time that you had to analyze information? (How was the information gathered and what conclusion was drawn from you analysis?)

What do you consider the key skills and characteristics of a successful consultant?

What’s the most frustrating thing you have had to do this week?

You were promoted into a new position in a newly-formed Business Unit. It is not clear what your role is supposed to be, or what the expectations are for this position. You’ve tried asking your leader once, but the response wasn’t very helpful.
Question: What would you do?

Don’t forget to…
Take Notes
Record your notes right away
Type your notes so everyone will be able to read your information
Write complete thoughts
Be careful what you write
Treat everyone the same
Take your time; candidates can tell if you are in a hurry
Do not commit to a follow-up interview right away


Kelly Smith is a Corporate Recruiter Consultant. Kelly works alongside human resources and hiring managers to source, screen, review resumes, interview, negotiate and extend offers to thousands of candidates throughout her more than 15 years in staffing. Visit Kelly’s web site at http://KellyStaffingExpert.com see her blog, view jobs, and visit her store to buy her book, The Recruiter’s Hiring Secrets. Also, in the store link you can send Kelly your resume for her to review and to make recommendations from her corporate recruiter perspective. Happy Job Hunting!

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