If you are currently looking for a job or have recently been involved in a selection process, you might have found yourself wondering what the telephone interviews are all about and why recruiters resort to them more than ever before.
Someone wanting to talk you down might argue that the huge number of qualified candidates paired to the obvious time constraints require a telephone pre-screening, preliminary to a face to face interview. This is not always the case though! Through this post, I aim at sharing my perspective on telephone interviews with my fellow recruiters, but also to shed light on this topic for all those found in a transitional state in their careers.
Upon careful selection of qualified resumés, the telephone pre-screening is the next step in a job application process, and serves the following purposes:
1. Confirm the candidate is interested in the job position. This might sound like an obvious one, but thanks to the Internet being the main mail carrier nowadays, sometimes all you need to do to apply for a job is a “click”. No need then to explain how easy it has become to make mistakes, or to apply for jobs in which you actually have virtually no interest. The solution: to call the candidate and investigate their reason and motivation for applying for that job.
2. Understand their current situation. Depending on the start date of the position, it is of major importance to know a candidate’s availability, especially if they are employed during the selection process. This is when the notification period, paperwork details, availability to relocate (if applicable) need to be clarified, as they might already be in conflict with the new job description and the needs of the potential employer.
3. Get a better understanding of their knowledge and experience. Sometimes resumés do not tell you enough about what you need to know. A position entry such as “customer service advisor” gives you very little information about the type of tasks performed, the level of responsibility, the medium of communication, the type of customers catered to (B2B or B2C). Understanding a candidate’s previous work experience is crucial and necessary to determine whether they are really qualified for the opening at hand. Candidates, remember! There is no right or wrong answer, just be open and honest about your previous and current roles.
4. Test languages. This is only applicable to multilingual profiles, where knowledge of several languages is required. If the position requires someone who can speak Spanish, English and French fluently, as a recruiter, you’d better make sure sooner rather than later that your candidate has these language skills. This goes out to those who find a point in “enhancing” their resumés, especially when it comes to linguistic skills: my advice is “DON’T!” These are very easy to test, you cannot hide your lack of knowledge and you will make recruiters question everything else on your resumé.
5. Explain the job opening. The time has come for the recruiter to formally present the offer and explain the various responsibilities and benefits of the job opening. Similarly to point 3 above, it is crucial for the recruiter to have a very good understanding of the role and make sure this is in line with the candidate’s expectations.
6. How does everything come together? Now it is time for the recruiter to ask for clarifications and to share doubts on any of the above points. Even if the recruiter is satisfied with the interviewee’s motivation and experience, it is equally important to be reassured that the position is still in line with the candidate’s expectations, and to check that they maintain the same interest after this conversation. If for example the job requires relocation, I would advise not pushing for an answer right away, but rather giving them a day or two to consider the offer before confirming their interest. In conclusion, this being the final part of the interview, do not forget to clarify what the next steps of the recruitment process will be, as well as its timeline.
Although pre-screenings fall under the category of interviews, I tend to see them more as directed chats and do my best to inspire a similar mindset in my candidates. It works wonders to make candidates chattier and open about their needs and experience. Candidates, no need here to drop a brick and fall into the opposite extreme: being too wordy and constantly interrupting the interviewer is a definite no-no.
As a recruiter, I need to make sure you are the person I am looking for, but do not forget, as a candidate, it is your duty to check whether this job really is what you were searching for and say it! No better moment to do so than a telephone interview!