Conduct the Perfect Pre-Screening Phone Interview


01 Aug
01Aug

You've created a stellar job posting and have had a bevy of candidates apply for the open position at your company. Congratulations! But before you make a hiring decision, you need to interview prospective candidates. In-person interviews are a hefty investment of time and team resources, so you want to make sure the candidates you bring in are the best of the bunch.

Enter the pre-screening interview. 

A pre-screening interview allows you to ask candidates some preliminary questions over the phone to determine whether they are qualified for the job opening. Pre-screening can help weed out unqualified candidates before wasting time interviewing them in person. This is a way of narrowing down the pool and ultimately saving your team valuable time and resources. Read on to learn more about conducting the perfect pre-screening interview. 

Keep it short and simple.

 Plan on a brief 15- 30-minute interview. A quick phone call can reveal pertinent information about skill set, experience, and attitude that enable you to make an educated decision on whether the candidate should move on in the interview process. A pre-screening interview is also a great time to begin pitching the benefits of the position to the candidate if you feel they might be a good fit. 

Prepare beforehand.

 The phone screening interview is your first contact with a candidate and is vital to building a relationship with them. An effective phone screen helps the candidate learn about your company as much as the screening enables you to learn about them. Therefore, even though it is a less formal interview, it's essential to be organized and professional. 

To best prepare for the pre-screening interview, make sure that you understand the core competencies for the position and have formulated questions based on those skills. Next, review the candidate's resume and social media accounts and outline specific areas where you have questions or concerns. Finally, write a brief introduction with selling points about your company and job position to share with the candidate. 

Get organized.

 Once you have scheduled a time and set expectations for the interview, prepare 3-5 questions for the candidate related to current and previous experience, education, or competencies and behaviors. Make sure to allow for time at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask questions about the position and close with detailed information about the next steps in the process. Take good notes and document your findings in your applicant tracking system. 

Some General Tips

Here are a few general tips to make sure you get the most out of your pre-screening interviews: 

  • Make sure to ask about the candidate's credentials, skills, and education listed on their resume. 
  • Put your listening ears on, and make sure you give the candidate the floor at least 70% of the time. 
  • Listen closely for red flags like speaking negatively about a former employer, getting distracted, focusing too much on money, a lack of enthusiasm, and having no basic knowledge of the job description or company. 
  • Stay consistent with your questions for each candidate. Each interview will be unique but have a core list of questions you ask all candidates to avoid bias. Limit the number of interviews you do each day and give yourself time to reset between interviews. If you have a large candidate pool, the interviews can all start to run together. 
  • Limit the number of interviews you choose to do each day to prevent burnout (we suggest no more than four), and make sure you give yourself at least 30 minutes to reset between interviews.

It's not easy to find the perfect candidate, but a pre-screening interview can help you identify which applicants stand out as the best fit for your company and the job role. Employing the above methods to prepare for pre-screening interviews will help you decide who is worthy of moving onto face-to-face interviews and set you up for success in the rest of the hiring process.