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How to Conduct an Effective Phone Screening (Best Practices)

phone screening

A well-defined and structured recruitment process is key, not only to achieve your result but also to ensure a smooth process for the candidate. By designing an optimized recruitment process, you minimize inefficiencies and confusion throughout the journey, ensuring the vacancy is filled quickly and correctly. 

Within a selection process, the telephone interview fulfills a vital function, as an introductory discussion between the recruiter and the candidate. Through the telephone interview, you are able to understand more clearly the motivations and the fit of the candidate for the position. 

That’s why a phone screening needs to be precise and carefully staged. Here are some tips and tricks to do it!

How to Conduct Effective Phone Screening

Set the Objective

There are at least 5 things you must cover during a the initial phone call:

  1. Ensure the candidate’s interest
  2. Understand his motivations for moving to a new company
  3. Ensure there is a match between salary expectations and your offer.
  4. Check that the candidate meets the “hard” requirements of the job vacancy.
  5. Validate that they meet the “soft” requirements of the position and the work environment.

The phone screening process must validate that the candidate fulfills all the important prerequisites before being processed to the next stage. Without doing a good telephone interview, key information about the candidate will be missed, leading to the hiring of sub-optimal candidates.  

An important reason to do the phone interview is to gage the personality fit of the candidate to the existing culture of the company.

Before Making The Calls – Create a Template

Once you are clear about the objectives, there are a series of steps or tools that you must have to be efficient during the phone screening.

We need to start from the premise that you already have a job description and that, therefore, you know, a priori, what you want to find. Based on the job description, it identifies those “hard” requirements (technical knowledge, languages, experience) that are non-negotiable for the vacancy; it also identifies those that would be valuable.

Next, create a template with the questions to ask in the telephone interview. Start by developing the important questions that can quickly decide whether to continue with the candidate or not.   How many years of experience do you have? Is your job in B2B or B2C? 

After those questions are fleshed out, plan out behavioural questions such as the candidate’s motivation to apply and career aspirations. Finally conclude with more onboarding and benefit-centric questions, such as their expected salary and position.

Apart from the template, you can prepare a spreadsheet to record the responses. With an Excel sheet you are able to compare the candidates that you interview for the position. This spreadsheet will quickly decide which candidates will proceed to the next round of the interview.

Finally, prepare a short speech about the company, project, and job title. It is important that this is presented before the questions, so the candidate has full visibility on the company and the role that they are applying for.

Pick Up The Phone!

After you have defined the vacancy role, prepared the screening template, created the standardized candidate spreadsheet, and written an attractive speech, there is one last crucial step.

Spend 1 minute reviewing the candidate’s CV. It will help guide the interview and inform what questions to ask. What experience do you want to delve into (that are suitable for the role)? 

Are there any missing gaps in their experience that would make them unfit for the position? What key elements in their past do you want further clarification of?

Once you have gotten a quick impression of the candidate, it’s time to make the call! 

A lot of these phone screening interviews have to be planned around busy schedules – hence it is important to ensure that the person is available and can proceed with the interview uninterrupted.

If there are any characteristics of the candidate in the phone screening that make them not fit for the position, let them know. 

It shouldn’t be difficult since your screening is fundamentally “hard” (if they don’t speak the language you are looking for, if they don’t have the experience you need, etc.). By doing so, you will be able to close the applications with feedback included.

If the candidate fits your needs and they are interested in your project, the next step is to quickly follow up for the proceeding step of the interview process. Inform them of the entire interview process, how many stages of interviews do they have to go through? Who will they be interviewed by? Inform them if they have any case studies to prepare for. Disclose as much relevant information to the process in order to maximize their chance to be onboarded.

If the profile does not fit you 100% or you prefer to wait to have one more candidate interview to compare to, inform the candidate that they are processing other candidates and more time is needed to proceed them into the next round. Give him a deadline and update them accordingly.

At the end of the day, a phone screening stage is an important step in your hiring process. It ensures that those that proceed to the next round are strong candidates for the job. 

Carefully  planning your screening process will undoubtedly help streamline the entire recruitment process, not just the initial stages.  

How do we identify candidates that will pass this screening stage? Tools like Shortlyst can help save your time and recommend the best candidates with its AI recommendations and access to 600 million professionals. The talent sourcing software makes it easy to pipeline a list of potential candidates and automate reaching out to them.  

A properly planned phone screening may assist filter the best candidate, but with the help of a talent search engine, the recruitment process will be a lot more efficient.

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Written by

Shortlyst Team

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