Telephone interviews can be a great way to bring efficiency to the recruitment process and help employers to quickly decide after evaluating applicants which candidates they'd like to take further. But knowing how to conduct an interview well can greatly influence the effectiveness of your calls.
Here's our advice for how to conduct a telephone interview;
Know what you're looking for
As you're unable to judge things like personal appearance, body language, and to some extent, personality, on the telephone, don't try to. Use a telephone interview as your tick list – do they have the required skills and experience, can they communicate in a clear way, and afterwards, do you want to find out more about that candidate? Can they explain anything you're unsure about on their CV or application? If you're satisfied with the basics, then you can invite them for an interview in person.
Telephone interview planning
Your planning needs to be as thorough as it is for face-to-face interviews, making sure you have read through the candidate's CV, job description/person specifications and any other relevant documents. You should respect timing, level of attention and privacy as you would in a regular interview, so perhaps ensure you're in a quiet room to conduct it. Have your list of questions ready and be prepared to note down the candidates' responses accurately.
Keep it succinct
When you're conducting the interview choose your questions carefully to avoid the candidate rambling about things that aren't relevant to the role. Keep the interview on track, and let the candidate know when you've got all the information you need.
The end of the interview
As with any interview, stay friendly and professional right until you've hung up. Before you end the call, inform the candidate what the next steps are and ensure you have given them your phone number in case they need to contact you.
Be aware that they are within their rights to ask for a copy of the notes you made during the interview so make sure you have some, and file these accordingly.
Many of the same rules apply, but remember to be aware of yourself as an interviewer. The candidate can see you too, so your presentation and behaviour is important. Give the benefit of the doubt if there is a time lag in responses, or a lack of clarity; you can always ask follow-ups to clarify. And always make sure you test your system before the call, the last thing you want is not to be able to hear or see somebody you've arranged to interview!