5 Steps of Conducting a Phone Interview

February 13th, 2015

The phone interview offers a quick, low-cost option for screening potential candidates. While phone interviews shouldn’t be used to replace in-person, in-depth interviewing, they can be a valuable way to examine a first round of candidates and choose the handful of “top” applicants about whom managers want to know more.

To prepare for a productive and efficient phone interview, follow these five steps:


Phone interviews should be kept short. Plan ahead by choosing questions carefully. Use questions that ask what you most want to know in the screening stage, and phrase them clearly in order to help the candidate stay on track. Your recruiter can help you choose the best phone interview questions for your candidates and the position.

Before each interview, assemble the candidate’s resume, cover letter, and other information. Keep a notepad handy to take notes.

Choose the right place.

The candidate won’t see where you’re sitting during a phone interview – but if the space is loud, busy, or echoing, the candidate may hear your surroundings instead of your questions. Find a quiet office or meeting room and test the phone connection before you call.

Consider asking open-ended questions.

Candidates who can respond at some length to open-ended questions demonstrate the communication skills required to succeed in many jobs. In addition to basic screening questions, ask at least one open-ended question like “What projects have you worked on that have helped you develop the skills you’ll need to succeed in this role?”

Take notes.

It’s easy to forget to take notes as you chat with candidates. But at the end of a long day, you may have difficulty remembering which candidate said what. Your notes will also let you communicate the results of each interview more clearly with fellow hiring managers. Use a notepad, or print out a list of questions for each candidate and jot your notes in the margins as they respond to each question.

Follow up.

The phone interview process doesn’t end when you hang up. It ends when you follow up, whether that means sending a polite rejection letter or an invitation to a second interview. Remember to let the candidate know what to expect next, and then to follow through.

At 1st Staffing Group, our experienced Odessa, TX recruiters connect local employers to the best candidates for a number of positions. Contact us today to learn more!

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