Three Tips to Streamline Your Phone Screens, Part 3

I talked about streamlining your problem statement and your job analysis in Part 1. In Part 2, I talked about streamlining your recruiting. This part is about is about phone screens. Love them or hate them, you have to do them. But how?

My client first spent about 10 minutes talking about the company and the position before he asked any questions. I asked him why.

“I want to sell people on the company.”

“That’s very nice of you. Why do you want to sell people before you know if they are right for you?”

“Oh, from your question, maybe I don’t?”

“Well, I don’t see why you would spend any¬† more time on a phone screen than you need to. Think about it. You spend 10 minutes building people’s hopes up. Then you ask a couple of questions and dash their hopes. Why not ask questions first, decide if you want them for an interview, and then “sell” them on the company if you need to? You might not even need to sell them on the company. Maybe your questions will sell them.”

“Oh…”

I could see his wheels turning… (If you read Hiring Geeks That Fit, I spend an entire chapter on how to structure and ask questions in phone screens. Would I leave you hanging? No!)

Here are the tips:

  1. In your job analysis, you have differentiate what’s essential from what’s merely desirable. Take two or three essentials and ask about those in the phone screen. Those are your elimination questions. Ask about the elimination questions first. If the candidate can’t answer those questions to your content, stop the phone screen right then and there.
  2. Money was a constraint for my client, so we decided to ask about it. He decided to ask at the end of the phone screen, and ask this way: “We have a range of x to y for this position. Is that going to fit for what you want, or are we nowhere near each other? (This is why I suggest in Manage Your Job Search to know what you want before you have a phone screen. Hiring managers need to know. They do.)
  3. How much do you need to sell the company? When I was a candidate, I just hated when people wasted my time telling me about the company. They never told me what I needed to know. I wanted to know how much time people wasted in meetings. I wanted to know if people collaborated. Instead, they told me the location, or if they had parking, nonsense like that. People want to know about the working environment, not the stuff about the work. Consider what you need to tell people about the work, and you can shorten your phone screens.

I have a phone screen template. You should take it adapt it to your needs. It can be a strawman template for you.

Next, we’ll talk about how my client streamlined his interviewing and auditions. You’re going to love it.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks, this is great! I normally do the “Sell” part before my elimination questions, and you’re right that it doesn’t make sense. You just saved me a bunch of time!

    If I decide to keep the “Sell” part and do it later, what do you think of talking about our product and why it is cool? That is what I normally do, and my candidates almost always get excited by it.

    Reply
    • Josh,

      Thanks, I aim to please!

      You can keep the “sell” part at the end, when you want to talk to people about why they should come in for an interview. That’s when you want to get them excited about giving up a half-day of their time.

      (Happy dance. Happy dance.) If you haven’t read Hiring Geeks That Fit, you should. I have many more time-saving tips in there.

      Reply

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  1. Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4 | Hiring Technical People - […] ← Three Tips to Streamline Your Phone Screens, Part 3 […]

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