Five Things to Address In a Phone Screen

No matter their experience level or discipline, interviewing a candidate for an internal position is a big deal. When screening a candidate, you’re trying to solidify a wide range of things. You want to make sure they’re capable of doing the job by getting a sense of their work ethic and dedication to the role. Additionally, you want proof that they will fit in well with the company culture and team. All of that you have to determine in a call that’s under thirty minutes long - no pressure or anything. To help you make the right hiring decision, we’ve put together a list of five things to address in a phone screen.

Job Specifics

The first thing to address in any interview is the specific job the candidate applied for. Address things like daily and long-term projects they’ll be handling. Next, explain why the role is open and what growth opportunities look like down the line. This will allow the candidate to get a sense of what they’d be doing. It can also help you communicate openly and honestly right from the beginning.

  • Pro Tip: Ask the candidate what drew them to apply for the role. This is a good way to get an idea of how much research they’ve done on the company and position, which gives you the ability to effectively gauge their interest.

Professional Experience and Success

After you explain what you’re looking for, you can give the candidate an open forum to discuss their past experience. Instead of asking specific questions about their previous jobs, offer them a chance to take you through their resume and professional history. This will give insight as to what the candidate is proud of in their career and help translate how their skillset will apply to this role.

  • Pro Tip: Ask a candidate to tell you about a personal or professional accomplishment they’re proud of. This will give you a specific sense of one thing they want to highlight when they get the chance to do so.

Company Environment

In today’s modern job market, your company’s culture plays a significant part if a candidate is right for the role. You don’t have to address specifics right off the bat. Although, providing transparency about the office environment will ensure the candidate (and you) will know if it’s a fit. And if they prefer another environment, it’s better to know upfront rather than two or three more interviews down the line.

  • Pro tip: Before you get on the phone, have a short conversation with the manager who will oversee the candidate. This will help you answer the more team-specific questions a candidate will have.
  • Pro tip bonus: Many candidates are drawn in to things like benefits packages or paid time off. This is a good chance to highlight these if your company offers them!

Interview Process

No candidate wants to take a phone interview that’s a dead-end - that’s a waste of both parties’ time. This gives you a chance to explain things further than a generic “we’ll be in touch.” And since the interview process is different for every company, mentioning at least a general overview will guarantee you and the candidate are aligned with your timelines.

  • Pro tip: If you already know when you’re going to be scheduling in-person interviews, mention this at the end of the conversation. Ask if that timeframe works for the candidate. This will give you an opportunity to see what the timeline looks like on their end.
  • Pro tip bonus: Remember that most jobs require a two-week notice. The period begins after a candidate signs an offer letter.

Additional Questions

This is another time to give the candidate a chance to show you how much research they’ve done and why they are the best fit for this role. It can also bring up some red flags right away – if a candidate asks about paid time off or compensation, it might be a pass, as these are things that should be addressed later in the interview process and brought up by the company. It also functions as a “catch all” for any outstanding questions that candidates may have.

  • Pro tip: If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to tell them something like: “That question varies from team to team, but I’m happy to follow up with the direct manager of the team and let you know.” Since most phone screens are conducted by HR team members, you might not know all the specifics. It’s better to be cautious than to guess.

Conducting phone interviews is an important part of being on a corporate HR team. As the first step in the interview process, it’s up to you to represent the company in an accurate and positive way to all candidates. Simultaneously, you'll assess if the candidate should move on to the in-person stage. But with this list in mind and a passion for finding that perfect fit, you’ll be well on your way to building your company’s perfect staff.

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Founded in 1981 by Susan Levine, Career Group Companies was created to set a higher standard for recruiting. For over four decades, we’ve partnered with our valued candidates and clients to cultivate perfect career matches for administrative, creative, fashion, events, and executive professionals at top companies nationwide.

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