Get Recruitment Savvy: phone screening

Ever had a candidate look great on paper but been a dud at interview? Or have you made an offer only to have the candidate turn it down for money or something that should have been discussed sooner? An early phone conversation with a candidate, or what we recruiters call a ‘phone screen’ is a massively valuable weapon in your recruitment arsenal, ideal for shaping your short list.

Ever had a candidate look great on paper but been a dud at interview?  Or have you made an offer only to have the candidate turn it down for money or something that should have been discussed sooner?  An early phone conversation with a candidate, or what we recruiters call a ‘phone screen’ is a massively valuable weapon in your recruitment arsenal, ideal for shaping your short list.  

Recently I’ve been surprised by how many companies are still relying purely on CVs to decide who they will interview when quick phone calls to candidates could save them hours of time.  In addition there are many reasons a company shouldn’t rely solely on CVs:


There are certain elements that you really want to discover early on in the process. Any critical attributes should be covered off as early as possible.  Questions fall into two areas: 

Killer questions - where the response can knock someone out of the running immediately, for example;


“Are you legally allowed to work in this country?” 

Show stoppers or red flags - for example;


“What are your salary expectations?”
“Can you attend training across certain hours?”
“Can you start at a specific date?”

If you have the benefit of an ‘applicant tracking system’ (ATS) then such questions can be included on that.  ATS’s also have the wonderful ability to prioritise who you should speak to first, the more right answers the higher on the ‘call’ list.  With or without an ATS a phone screen is necessary. 

A phone screen is also the first place you could introduce a behavioural question.  Perhaps there’s something critical to the role that could be asked here.  
Predominantly the CV covers off whether an applicant ‘can’ do the role.  Unless you are using personality testing linked to the application (again through an ATS) the phone screen is the first opportunity to check whether someone ‘will’ do the role.  In other words are they congruent with what the role offers?   

Good phone screen?  Here’s how:


Phone screens can also be useful for employers to get a picture of realistic market expectations from applicants for a specific job.  

Although to some it may appear that phone screens add another step to the process, by spending five minutes you can save yourself an hour in an unnecessary interview.  A free phone screen template is available on the resources page of www.talentseed.co.nz.

AUTHOR BIO – TANIA HOWARD

Tania Howard is the director of Talent Seed a recruitment advisory company that trains and advises organisations towards DIY recruitment. She was previously Recruitment Manager at Telecom reducing the frontline recruitment expenditure by a third and International Recruitment Manager at TeleTech setting up a team and processes to hire 800 people within 4 months. Tania has Diplomas in Management and Business. She specialises in reducing bad hires and legal risk when recruiting, and assisting businesses to compete for talent. Tania can be contacted via www.talentseed.co.nz.




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