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The Ins and Outs of Phone Interviewing

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The phone interview is a useful tool to determine if you want to take the hiring process to the next level - the in-person interview. This method of narrowing your field of candidates saves you precious time when you are trying to find the best fit for a position. In the days of cell phones and blackberries, we seem to rely more on phones than ever before, and it's critical that managers have reliable tactics for phone interviews. Here are a few ins and outs of the process - things to incorporate and avoid when you are interviewing over the phone.

Don't Just "Phone it in"
Just as preparation is the key for the prospect being interviewed, your success also hinges on how you prepare. Take the time to review the candidate's resume before you speak. Have a list of questions appropriate to the position prepared and mix in behavioral questions with standard ones that directly relate to the job's duties.

Collect Interest
Try to determine as soon as possible how interested a candidate is. If your initial attempt at contact means you have to leave a message, it's an ideal chance to set an exact time for the candidate to return your call. This turns out to be a good gauge of how interested and committed the individual is. If they don't contact you at the appointed time, it's usually a telltale sign that they are not interested in the position.

Record Your Impressions
As soon as the interview has concluded, take a few minutes to jot down your impressions or have a form where you can record what transpired. These fresh impressions can be invaluable if you end up in a face-to-face interview down the road. Note specific questions where their response was strong and areas you want to delve into in greater detail.

Allow for the Format
Since the phone lacks some of the visual cues we're used to, conversations can sometimes seem stilted. Take the format into consideration when forming an impression of the candidate. You will most likely get a very different sense of them when meeting them in person. Where a phone interview can be invaluable is in evaluating the candidate' skills and experience relative to your needs.

Ask if They Have Questions
This is a great screening technique that can tell you how serious an applicant is about the position. Do they have carefully thought out questions and seem genuinely interested in learning more about your company? Better yet, has your phone interview sparked a question in them? Often, sharp candidates will formulate questions that spring from your conversation.

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