Recruitment Blog

Questions you need to ask to optimise your phone interviews

Sarah Linney
Content Marketing Manager at JobAdder
phone screen interview

As a recruiter at a recruitment agency, one of the most critical parts of your job is to conduct phone screen interviews to identify the best candidates for your clients.

These interviews allow you to assess candidates’ qualifications, experience and fit before inviting them for an in-person interview. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for optimising phone screen interviews to help you identify the best candidates efficiently.

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Pre-phone interview tips

Before conducting a phone screen interview, it’s vital that you prepare thoroughly. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Review the candidate’s resume: Review the candidate’s resume beforehand, paying close attention to their education, experience and qualifications.
  2. Develop a list of questions: Develop a list of questions that will help you assess the candidate’s fit for the role. This list should include both technical and behavioural questions.
  3. Schedule the interview: Schedule the interview with the candidate in advance and make sure you choose a time when you won’t be disturbed.
  4. Set the tone: Introduce yourself at the beginning of the call and set the tone for a friendly and professional conversation.

What phone interview questions you should ask

During a phone screen interview, you’ll want to ask questions that can help you evaluate the candidate’s skills and experience, as well as their fit for the role and your client’s company culture. Here are some interview questions to consider:

  1. Can you tell me about your previous work experience?
  2. What do you know about this company, and why do you want to work there?
  3. Can you walk me through your approach to problem-solving?
  4. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  5. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation at work?
  6. How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?
  7. Can you tell me about a successful project you worked on and your role in it?
  8. How do you handle conflict with co-workers or managers?

We know these are a bit basic so if you want to branch out, here are some unique interview questions to try out!

Negative signs to watch for during a phone interview

During a phone screen interview, you also want to watch for negative signs that may indicate that the candidate is not the right fit for the role. Here are some things to watch for:

  1. Lack of preparation: If the candidate is not prepared for the interview and cannot answer basic questions about their experience or the role, it may indicate a lack of interest or commitment.
  2. Negative attitude: If the candidate speaks negatively about their previous employers or colleagues, it may indicate a negative attitude or lack of professionalism.
  3. Poor communication skills: If the candidate has difficulty communicating their thoughts or answering questions, it may indicate poor communication skills. However, please note that this may be due to neurodivergence or social anxiety, so always remember to ask if a candidate has any reasonable accommodations that need to be incorporated into the interview process. This article on checking your unconscious bias with neurodivergent candidates is a great place to start.
  4. Inability to follow directions: If the candidate does not follow instructions or asks for clarification multiple times, it may indicate a lack of attention to detail or an inability to follow directions. If the candidate seems distracted or unable to follow what you’re saying, simply ask them if there’s anything wrong so the issue can be addressed.
  5. An absence of questions on their part: An attentive interviewee, with prior preparation, will have questions about the company, the new job opening and their responsibilities if they get the job. The absence of questions indicates that the candidate might not be sufficiently enthusiastic.

Phone screen interview follow-up

After the phone screen interview, it’s essential to follow up with the candidate to provide feedback and the next steps. Here are some tips:

  1. Provide feedback: Let the candidate know how they performed during the interview and provide feedback on areas they can improve on.
  2. Schedule next steps: If you decide to move forward with the candidate, schedule an in-person interview or send them the next steps in the process.
  3. Stay in touch: Keep in touch with the candidate throughout the process and provide updates on their application status. Consistent communication is key.

In conclusion, conducting phone screen interviews is an essential part of the recruitment process. By following the tips outlined in this post, you can optimise your phone screen interviews and identify the best candidates efficiently for your clients. Remember to prepare thoroughly, ask the right questions, watch for negative signs and follow up with candidates to provide feedback and the next steps.

Recruitment expert Barb Bruno reveals 25 essential strategies to future-proof your agency.

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