At the last Software Management conference, one senior manager said that he always did a “dirt-bag” phone screen. He asked his administrative assistant to call the candidate with a bunch of reasonable questions and make sure the candidate treated her nicely. She asked questions such as basic skill questions, when the candidate was available for an interview, things she could evaluate. He figured that since the employees all had to work with his admin, he wasn't going to hire anyone who treated the admin like dirt.
That idea has spread 🙂 Take a look at HR Interviews Can Be Senior Execs' Waterloo (Thank you to Boston Works Job Blog for the pointer).
In my experience, the higher up the management chain you travel, the less you can act like someone who doesn't care about the way other people experience them. Not if you want to actually accomplish anything in your job. Having a non-peer perform an initial phone screen can be helpful, if you want to ensure a collegial atmosphere.
Maybe this will help the execs realize that HR is a crucial function in the organization and that staffing it with benefits people just isn't enough. Well, maybe not :-).