How to Know If You Conducted a Successful Phone Interview

During the recruiting cycle, you need to weed out candidates who aren’t good fits for open positions. One way to screen applicants is to conduct phone interviews. But, how do you know if you have a successful phone interview with a candidate?   

Signs of a good phone interview

The telephone interview is an important part of the pre-screening interview process. Without it, passing along candidates to your client would be difficult.

Although phone interviews should be relatively short, especially compared to in-person interviews, you should learn more about the candidate’s personal and professional goals, interests, and skills.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine whether a candidate had a good phone interview.

1. Did the candidate’s responses match their resume?

Exaggerating or lying on a resume is common. According to one report, 85% of employers caught a fib on an applicant’s resume. With phone interviews, you can find out if a candidate is lying on paper. That way, you can eliminate the liars to avoid presenting them to your client.

Pick out important points from the candidate’s resume to discuss. If you see something vague or suspicious on an applicant’s resume, ask them to elaborate. Ask questions that probe the applicant for more information.

Refer to the candidate’s resume throughout the interview. You could say something like, “I see here on your resume that you … Can you elaborate on that?”

You can also ask applicants personal, behavioral interview questions about resume descriptions. For example, “What was it like being in charge of this project? What would you do differently?”

If the candidate’s responses match their resume, you can be more confident that they accurately represented themselves on their application. If there are significant discrepancies, you can quickly eliminate them from the running.

2. Was the candidate engaged?

The candidate’s engagement in the conversation is an important part of any interview. If the candidate doesn’t seem interested in the job, there’s a good chance they would be disengaged performing the job, too.

Determine whether the candidate was excited about the position. Did they apply for the job because they are passionate about it, or did they submit their resume randomly?

You are looking for a candidate who did their research. They should know about your client’s company and ask good questions to learn more. Not knowing anything about your client’s company can indicate that the candidate sent out mass amounts of applications without putting the time into them.

An engaged candidate can carry on the conversation. Although a phone interview shouldn’t be long, it shouldn’t be only a few minutes, either. Shorter than normal phone interviews might show that the candidate isn’t a good fit.

When you ask questions, candidates should not reply in short phrases. They should be open to giving you the information you need to determine if they are a good fit.

3. How were the candidate’s communication skills?

Communication is key in any job, whether the employee is a public speaker, writer, chemist, or software developer. The ability to speak clearly about problems and achievements is essential in business. Without soft skills like communication, individuals will have difficulty being truly engaged in the workplace.

With that said, phone interviews are a great time to assess a candidate’s communication skills. Does the candidate sound too rehearsed, or are they relaxed and able to carry on a conversation?

You should notice whether the candidate is able to clearly and effectively communicate what they are trying to say. Candidates who don’t make sense when talking about their experiences or skills might have a difficult time effectively communicating on the job. Or, it could be a sign that the candidate lied on their resume.

4. Would the candidate fit in with the company culture?

A big portion of a phone interview is to learn more about a candidate’s personality, interests, and personal life. An individual without the same values as your client’s company might become disengaged.

Find out about who the candidate is outside of their professional life. Ask them what their hobbies and goals are.

Learn whether a candidate prefers to work on their own or with a team. A candidate might look great on paper, but if they are unable to work effectively with your client’s current team, there will be problems.

Let’s say you’re interviewing for a management position. Your client’s company emphasizes the importance of decision making as a team. If the person you’re interviewing prefers to make decisions on their own, they might not be a good cultural fit.

5. Did the candidate send an email after the phone interview?

Receiving a follow-up email indicates the candidate is interested and excited about the position. And, it shows they appreciate the time you took to speak with them.

Among being one of the signs of a good phone interview, follow-up emails are polite. Candidates who send emails after the phone interview most likely thank you for your time, touch on some of the topics you discussed, and express their excitement for the opportunity. An email can also help reiterate reasons why the applicant would make a great fit for the position.

Receiving a follow-up email also gives you the opportunity to easily let candidates know whether they will be moving on or not.

Telephone interview tips

Before you conduct a successful phone interview, you need to be prepared. Going into a phone interview blindly can lead to poor dialogue that isn’t the candidate’s fault. Use some of these telephone interview tips to prepare.

Make a list of phone interview questions so you know what to ask candidates. You want the conversation to flow freely, but you also don’t want to get off track. A list of interview questions provides you with a standard template so you discuss similar topics with each candidate.

You should schedule the event in your recruiting software so you don’t forget about the interview or call later than you said you would. This can cause disinterest on the candidate’s end. Staying organized and calling promptly can make a good first impression.

During the phone interview, keep notes. That way, you can go back and compare notes between candidates. And, you can pass your notes along to your client. You should be able to explain why you think certain candidates are better fits for your client’s company than others. You might consider using an interview scorecard so you can rate candidates and remember the conversations.

After phone interviews, make sure to follow up with candidates. You must let them know whether they are advancing or not. Send job rejection emails to candidates who aren’t moving on. And, schedule interviews with candidates who are.