Phone Screening Tips

Phone Screening Strategies

Phone screenings are a great way to identify whether or not you want to move forward and invest in a face to face interview with the candidate.  A brief 30 minute phone screen allows you to get an idea of the job seekers phone presence, as well as address any red flags. 


Additionally, the phone screening empowers you to discern whether or not the candidate would be a good fit for the position. 


To get the maximum amount of information in a minimum amount of time, there are a handful of specific questions that you should always make it a point to address during the initial screening.


Phone Screening Strategies

1.     Decreasing new hire fail rate through phone screening strategies

a.     Coachability

                                               i.     26% of all new hire failures were due to coachability

                                             ii.     Coachability: an inability to accept feedback from those they work with (direct supervisors, colleagues, peers and customers)

b.     Emotional Intelligence

                                               i.     23% of new hire failures were due to employees’ inability to understand emotions

c.     Lack of motivation

                                               i.     17% of new hires in Leadership IQ’s study failed due to lack of motivation

d.     Temperament

                                               i.     Basic personality issues

2.     Mix of strategies

a.     Specialize in potential; not resumes

b.     Specialize in attitude; not attributes

c.     Specialize in coachability; not credentials

d.     Focus on the blend of performance/behavioral skills

                                               i.     Topgrading

                                             ii.     Spin Selling

                                            iii.     Behavioral interviewing

                                            iv.     Character testing

3.     Maximize efficiency

a.     Plan no more than 30 minutes per call

                                               i.     For positions with high attention to detail, schedule at odd times such as 4:52

                                             ii.     For positions where a lot of voicemails are left; let them leave you a voicemail and call them immediately back if it’s quality

b.     Establish immediately you are friendly yet assertive.  Maximize your time by conveying that you have something of value for them

c.     Be prepared with prescreen questions and be proactive in dialogue

d.     Spin their answers and make them illuminate how they can fit positively in your company, career and leadership team

e.     When there are 3 unjustified red flags; end the call

4.     Qualities of a successful prescreen

a.     Get to know your candidate

                                               i.     Have a basic discussion about their resume (have them walk you through their experience)

                                             ii.     Get to the bottom of red flags

b.     Do ample discovery

                                               i.     Dig deep on motivators

                                             ii.     Likes and dislikes of past positions

c.     Sell, sell, sell

                                               i.     If you determine they are a fit for your position, pitch them about your company, leadership team and career

                                             ii.     Discuss intrinsic/extrinsic rewards

                                            iii.     Go over why your culture is beneficial for their personality based on their wants/needs

d.     Call to action

                                               i.     Let them ask questions and be aware of the types of the questions they ask

                                             ii.     Request that they resend resume (this will test their sense of urgency and interest)

e.     Follow up

                                               i.     Send a brief email summing up the conversation and how they could benefit from joining the team

                                             ii.     Focus on next steps

5.     Conversational red flag indicators

a.     Consistently provides unwarranted feedback

b.     Interrupts frequently

c.     Starts sentences with “no”, “but” and “however”

d.     Uses “I” instead of “we/us/our” in discussing team related projects

e.     Conveys an unwillingness to change

f.      Glosses over past failures or what they disliked

g.     Speaks poorly of prior bosses or colleagues

h.     Only interested in compensation/benefits/perks

i.      Arrogant attitude

j.      Exaggerates prior accomplishments

k.     Dodges questions (refuses to answer questions or is vague)

6.     Conversational green lights

a.     Sense of urgency

b.     Grows self through further education

c.     Follows through on commitments

d.     Detail oriented

e.     Proactive

f.      Articulate

g.     Intellectual and business savvy

h.     Assertive yet polite

i.      Drive to succeed; passionate

j.      Trustworthy

k.     Resourceful; ability to overcome obstacles

l.      Well-grounded/self-aware


Effective Phone Screening Questions:

 “What is your ideal position / What interested you about this opportunity”

  • Talk to the candidate to see what their hopes are for their next position
  • If your job doesn’t align with their goals, chances are it won’t be a good fit
  • Make sure that the candidate would be a satisfied and passionate addition to your team

“What have you liked / disliked about previous positions”

  • Take the time to understand what the candidate has liked about prior positions and disliked
  • Cross check this against the opening available

“Do you have reliable transportation?  How far are you comfortable commuting?”

  • Some job seekers are more comfortable traveling than others. Always take the time to figure out exactly what the travel time for the candidate would be (in miles and minutes)
  • PRO TIP: for an hourly position, calculate the cost of fuel.  If they need to work for more than half hour to pay for their vehicle, it’s highly unlikely they will stay in the position long.
  • Find out how long the candidate has traveled to the last few positions, so you get an understanding of whether or not your location is a realistic commute

“Why do you think you’d be a great candidate for this opportunity?”

  • If the candidate has applied to a position you have open, it is their job to sell you as to why they would make a good addition to your team (especially for candidates that are interested in sales)
  • If the job seeker is unable to articulate why they would be a great fit for the opportunity, this is a large red flag
  • If the candidate seems to have done their research on the company, this is a great sign.  A potential team member should be passionate and excited about the position.  They should go above and beyond to “sell themselves” to prove to you why you should move forward with them

    Confirm that the job seeker has the minimum requirements to be successful in the role
  • Confirm that the candidate, at very least, meets all the minimum requirements that would make them successful in the job
  • If there’s something about their resume/skillset that leads you to believe they might not be a good fit, be candid with them
  • PRO TIP: for sales positions, tell them your concerns and see if they can overcome the objection

 “Do you need any time off in the next 90 days?”

  • Before moving forward to the next step, always confirm whether or not the candidate will require any time off in the next 90 days
  • Sometimes, candidates are so excited about a prospective job, that they get carried away and forget to articulate about upcoming weddings or vacations
  • PRO TIP: Make sure your hiring manager won’t be taking time off either…

“What was your salary in your last position / What are you seeking as far as salary moving forward”

  • You want to confirm that the candidates last position paid relatively close to the position you have available
  • Always ask what they were last making prior to disclosing the pay range (by doing this, you avoid having a candidate try to “settle” for a lower pay, or try to convince you that they deserve a significant amount more than their prior position)




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