The phone screen provides remarkable insight into the quality of a company’s entire hiring process. Consider:
- If the hiring manager refuses to phone screen all of the candidates a recruiter recommends, there’s a problem with how the job is spec’d or the recruiter’s sourcing or assessment skills.
- If the strongest people decide to opt-out before the phone screen or after the screen with the hiring manager, there’s a problem with the job, the recruiter or the hiring manager.
- If the hiring manager needs to interview more than 3-4 candidates onsite to hire one great candidate there’s a problem with the job, the compensation package, the assessment process or the hiring manager’s ability to attract and hire the best talent.
While a professional phone screen won’t solve these problems, it will identify their root cause. That’s why every recruiter and hiring manager needs to master the phone screen before implementing any other hiring initiative.
This podcast summarizes the process used to gather the information shown in the scorecard graphic.
It’s pretty obvious that if a candidate passes muster on all of the factors shown after being phone screened by both the recruiter and hiring manager, there would be no need to interview more than 3-4 people onsite to make one great hire. Using this as the benchmark, the phone screen provides the feedback needed to identify and fix any upstream and downstream problems.
As an FYI, the scorecard shown is from a self-paced course we created on how to conduct a professional phone screen. Here’s a quick summary of what’s required to gather this information:
- Conduct a work history review to determine general fit. Review the person’s last few jobs and compare the information gained to the actual job requirements. The rate of progression is a great clue the person is in the top half of his/her peer group.
- Determine specific fit and motivation. Describe a major project the candidate will handle and ask the person to describe a comparable accomplishment. Spend 10 minutes on peeling the onion to fully understand the person’s role, the problems faced and decisions made, the success of the project and the formal recognition the person received.
- Determine if the person fits with the culture and the hiring manager. During the work history review and accomplishment question ask about the types of managers and people the candidate had the most success working with, the pace and intensity underlying these situations and how major decisions were made and approved. These circumstances are a good proxy for cultural and managerial fit if they map to your needs.
- If the job doesn’t represent a career move, get referrals. A true career move needs to provide some significant combination of a bigger job, faster growth, a more important job and a mix of more satisfying work. Use the phone screen to look for these gaps. If there are too many or not enough, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recruit and hire the person within budget. In these cases, connect on LinkedIn and proactively ask for referrals.
The phone screen is much more than an assessment tool. Used properly it’s a great way to get strong referrals, to highlight sourcing and recruiting problems, and to ensure candidates proceed on the basis that you’ll be offering the best career move not necessarily the biggest compensation package. In the end that’s how you hire for success and satisfaction rather than speed and cost.