So you've developed a phone screen of 10-12 questions, with your elimination factor questions at the top. You've hit a snag with a candidate and you're sure the candidate will not fit your position. What do you do?
Stop the phone screen. Right now. Say, “You're not a good fit for this position. Thank you for your time.”
If you're at the beginning of the phone screen, you've only spent 5 minutes, and you're ready for the next phone screen. If you're in the middle of the phone screen and you know someone who would want this candidate, you can offer to forward the resume or offer the hiring contact to the candidate. If you're at the end of the phone screen and everything seems perfect with the exception of salary expectations, say that. If you have salary leeway, you may also want to add, “If we can work out the salary issues, we'll call you for an interview.”
When you stop the phone screen when you recognize you can't go forward with a candidate, you're saying to the candidate: I respect your time and my time. I won't waste it for either of us.
I've met some hiring managers who didn't want to make people feel bad, so they continued with the entire phone screen. What a waste — for everyone. If you don't want to make the candidate feel badly, then practice saying something like “You're not a good fit for this position,” or whatever it is you want to say. The more you practice, the more likely you can say it when you need to stop the screen.