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Scheduling Phone Interview: Recruiters’ Guide for Efficiency

During this unprecedented time, we have witnessed the increase in both new virtual recruiting methods, including virtual career fairs, and the old but gold screening step called phone interview. As simple as it may sound, phone interviewing is one of the first important touch points between candidates and your company, and it can be optimized. Here are our checklist and tips to nail scheduling phone interviews and create a positive candidate experience.

When do Interviewers Conduct Phone Interviews?

Phone interviewing is a traditional yet effective screening method used by hiring teams in the early stage of the recruitment process. During this step, recruiters spend around 20-30 minutes to talk with applicants and check their qualifications, minimum requirements, and personal motivation or interests. It is to ensure that you invite the most suitable ones, the brightest talents to the next round and eliminate pointless interviews. Phone interviewing especially becomes handy when recruiters receive and have to process a large number of seemingly qualified applications or hiring teams having limited time to interviewing applicants.

The Four Benefits of Phone Interviews

By conducting phone interviews as initial screening methods, you can shortlist the top candidates and reduce the time spent on conducting multiple interviews later in the recruitment process.
As you can schedule phone interviews and work effectively from your desk, it can save commuting time of both interviewers and interviewees.
By narrowing the talent pool early on in the selection process, hiring teams can reduce the cost spent on managing a large number of applicants, organizing multiple assessment methods, or interviewing later down the road.
Reduce bias
Though body language is limited during phone interviews and you are unable to assess candidates’ behaviors, a properly conducted call can minimize unconscious bias , and thus, improve the objectivity in your recruiting process.

Scheduling Phone Interview Checklist for Efficiency

Due to its simplicity, phone interviews and the act of scheduling these events are often overlooked. Chances are you may miss opportunities to optimize this simple screening method, but no worries, we are here to help with a four-step checklist.

Work with the Hiring Team to Reach Consensus
First of all, let’s meet up with the hiring team to clarify unanswered questions, concerns, and ensure that the implementation timeline will meet their needs . For recruiters, make sure that you know the hiring team’s available time for interviews, their must-have requirements for candidates, questions that you need to ask, or any important notes.
Always Schedule a Phone Interview in Advance
Imagine you are working on your project when your phone rings. On the other side of the phone, there is someone who would like to talk about an opportunity in 20- 30 minutes. You don’t want to miss it, but you are also having things to do. And that inconvenient situation is what may happen to top candidates when recruiters choose to pick up their phones and call. Even though phone interviewing acts as a quick scan, picking up your phone at your convenience and making random calls often lead to unproductive, flustered conversations, and thus, you will risk damaging candidate experience. So, make sure that you schedule phone interviews via email or call in advance. Between the two channels, using email is more convenient for both recruiters and applicants. For templates of interview invitation , you can check our previous article on Interview Invitation Email Sample .

Invest in ATS or Interview Management for Productive and Hassle-Free Experience
We have had several posts on utilizing modern tools such as Applicant Tracking System or Interview Management for scheduling phone interviews. A key benefit of using these tools is enhancing the candidate experience by shortening the assessment and interview scheduling process. Shorter waiting time, happier candidates. Another benefit is you can automate and control the efficiency of back-and-forth communication, and thus, reducing the risk of miscommunicating or losing applicants. For a deeper analysis of how these tools can benefit you while scheduling phone interviews and a comparison of well-known HR vendors, you can check out our Interview Scheduling tool article.

Prepare Your Pre-Screening Interview Questions
As you probably have 20-30 minutes to talk with candidates, it is advisable to focus on the essentials only. You can build a list of approximately 10 must-ask questions and plan your structured interview under the time limit to ensure that you have enough information to make decisions. Along with crafting questions, make sure that you also have a rating system or scorecards before making the call. For a suggested list of interview questions, here is our Pre-interview Screening Questions article. Tip: Top talents may attract multiple companies. Thus, considering having some time to sell your company during conversations.

Wrapping Up

Though often being overlooked due to its simplicity, phone interviewing is a helpful screening method of HR professionals. While other screening methods and advanced tools are rising as we are moving to a digitalized world, optimizing each step in your recruitment process, including traditional ones such as scheduling phone interviews, can lead to improved results.

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