5 Questions That Will Level up Your Phone Screen
You’ve read through your candidate’s application 16 times, obsessively refreshed their LinkedIn page, and even discovered their Facebook profile. Still, it feels like you know nothing about them. It’s not enough to see that they grew their sales team from 2 to 20 people; you want to hear about it. This is where the phone screen, often the first step of the interview process, comes in handy.
The goal of your phone screen is to pass along important context to your hiring manager – details such as your candidate’s motivations, core values and ideal working environment. But how do you make sure you get all the information you need? For this first official post in the “How to Design Your Interview Process” blog series, we sought advice from three seasoned recruiting experts – Marie Burns, Head of People Ops at Datawire.io, Andrew Gadomski, Talent and Data Analyst at Aspen Advisors, and Michael Gallagher, Sales Recruiter at Lever. Here is the information they suggest you uncover, along with five questions that will help you do it.
Look for cultural alignment
‘What kind of relationship do you need with your manager to be successful?’ – Andrew Gadomski
One of Datawire’s chosen core competencies is adaptability. To measure it in her phone screens, Marie asks her candidates to describe a situation in which they changed their approach in the middle of a project. In her team’s eyes, adaptability means that you can 1. “adapt easily to changing business needs and work responsibilities,” and that you can 2. “adapt your goals and methods to achieve successful solutions and results in dynamic situations.” When candidates answer the question above, Marie sees their ability to reassess a situation and problem-solve accordingly.
[bctt tweet=”Three core candidate competencies: history of success, consistency, and communication style.” username=”ATCevent”]
In his phone screens, Michael looks for three core competencies: history of success, consistency, and communication style. To measure history of success, he wants to know which metrics his candidates have been judged upon or which projects they’ve worked on. These concrete numbers and tangible projects tell Michael that candidates aren’t just claiming past success; they can back those claims up. Next, Michael measures consistency. Have they consistently excelled throughout their career, or have they experienced a lot of highs and lows? Finally, Michael listens for his candidate’s communication style. The moment the phone call begins, Michael expects candidates to engage in an actual conversation. When candidates ask him about his day or life at Lever, for example, he can see that they’re eager to talk about more than just their qualifications. Even if you’re not the most outgoing person, Michael says, I need to get the sense that you’ll engage with your team outside of talking about metrics.
Understand their motivations
‘Why are you looking now? Why us?’ – Andrew Gadomski
In every phone call, Michael sets aside 10 minutes for questions at the very end. “If they applied and they’re asking ‘What is Lever?’ they’re a no,” Michael laughs. “No but really, I pay attention to the types of questions they’re asking.” It shows me how deeply they’ve thought about the role, and how much they prepared for our phone call. Michael encourages other recruiters to think about how to energise their candidates when they answer questions. “Make sure you talk in-depth about the parts of Lever you already know they like,” Michael advises.
Andrew also asks ‘What questions do you have for me?’. In fact, he firmly believes it’s the most important question a recruiter can ask. Too often, Andrew says, recruiters don’t think about what they need to sell, when they need to sell, and how long they should sell in their phone calls. In his experience, the phone screen is this glaring selling opportunity. After you grill candidates at length, you have to give them the chance to ask you questions. That’s when you wow them.
[bctt tweet=”‘What questions do you have for me?’ is one of the most important questions from the interviewer ” username=”ATCevent”]
We hope the examples above inspire you to go forth and design your own phone screen. As Michael, Andrew, and Marie emphasised in our chats with them, however, every candidate has a different story, and it’s important to allow that story to change the trajectory of your phone screen. Too many recruiters stick to a list of questions rather than pivot when necessary. In order to get all the information you need from a candidate, know that your interview structure has to be flexible.
Next week, we’ll dive deep into the “skills fit” stage of the interview process. Be sure to stay tuned!
This article first appeared on Lever on 21st July, 2016.
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