Hints and Tips for Effective Recruitment Telephone Job Interviewing

Published: 19th March 2012
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Recruiters, Managers and HR Professionals use a variety of recruitment assessment tools to select the best job seekers.

Each recruitment assessment tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. One recruitment assessment tool many recruiters use to gage job seeker suitability is phone interviewing.

Recruitment phone interviewing is a recruitment tool more often than not, used by organizations that need to assess significant numbers of applicants. Telephone job interviews are unpopular with both job seekers and recruiters.

Job Seekers don’t like the reality that they are unable to demonstrate their skills, abilities and qualifications face-to-face; recruiters do not like being forced to make decisions with regards to who to employ without having seeing applicants face-to-face.

Studies have shown recruitment phone interviews more often than not lead to lower evaluations of job seekers by interviewers. This means you really should have a significantly lower than normal tolerance in order to avoid eliminating truly great job seekers.

As part of your recruitment and selection process, phone interviewing should only be a part of your entire arsenal of assessment tools. In fact, I am a believer of using multiple assessment tools for all recruitment campaigns. Face-to-face interviewing or phone interviewing alone is not enough.

If you decide to use phone interviewing as part of your recruitment campaign, the following hints, tips and advice will help you avoid the common pitfalls many recruiters and employers fall for.

Hints & Tips about How to Conduct Telephone Job Interviews
1. Phone interviews must not be combined with face-to-face selection interviews within the same round of the recruitment and selection process. Considering the fact that phone interviews typically lead to lower ratings, it might be unfair to compare and contrast directly several job seekers who have been interviewed face-to-face with other people who have been interviewed on the phone.

2. Avoid in-depth discussion of the job requirements and at no point during the telephone interview should you discuss the specific responsibilities or required competencies of the position with the potential candidate. The interviewee should be already aware of the requirement and the time would be better spent asking questions than advising the interviewee.

3. Always use proper equipment. Avoid conducting telephone job screening over a mobile phone. While this may seem like common sense to you, it’s not to everyone. It is important not only that you be able to clearly hear and understand the interviewee, but that the interviewee be able to clearly hear and understand you.

4. Time the phone interview to not go longer than 20 minutes. Long telephone conversations can be both difficult for the recruiter and interviewer. Remember, phone interviews are usually preliminary discussions. Leave the hard, long-winded questions to face-to-face interviews.

5. Make sure you make an effort to remain consistent with the questions which you ask so that they are fair to everyone. Be sure you introduce the interview, ask competency-based questions, write down the evidence which you hear, and evaluate the evidence in the same manner that you might for a face-to-face interview.

6. Book and plan your phone interview in advance so that the job seeker has time to prepare and is available to attend the interview. I always recommend you first call the job seeker to book a time for the phone interview. This not only allows you to fully prepare for the interview, the job seeker is also given sufficient time to make themselves available.

7. Listen out for how the job seeker is responding to your questionsand how they are behaving. Things to listen for are:
a. Is the job seekers eating, drinking or smoking?
b. Are they speaking at a reasonable pace?
c. Is the job seeker referring to materials (This is hard to identify)
8. Try and keep accurate notes and record as much information as possible to help you with making a more subjective decisions about the job seekers performance

9. Always let the job seeker know that the information they provide will be used as part of their assessment. This sounds obvious, however what you will find is that some job seekers may not understand fully that the interview is an official part of the process and not just a “hi how are you” informal conversation.

10. Always ensure that the interview questions you ask are in line with your country / states relevant equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation.

11. Make sure that the questions you ask are basic, easy to answer and “highly” targeted. Remember that recruitment phone interviews are usually much shorter than traditional face-to-face interviews.

12. Make sure you thoroughly read the Job Seekers Resume prior to the interview. This will help you to formulate specific interview questions and also help to verify the applicant’s responses.

Recruitment telephone job interviews are a great way to assess large quantities of job seekers in a very short period of time. Always remember, job interviews that are held over the phone should be considered a preliminary part of the entire recruitment and selection process and complement your other assessment tools. Remember to plan your interview, take notes of the evidence you gather and always remain consistent with your questioning and approach.

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