Phone Interviewing Tips for Employers

Phone interviewing is an important step in the interview process. After reviewing the candidate’s resume, you will call them to initiate the hiring process. This helps you determine whether the candidate should move through the hiring process, along with helping build a relationship with them.

Without a structure for phone interviews, it can quickly become time consuming. Planning the format of the call is crucial to having a uniform process for everyone.

Here’s our phone interviewing tips for employers:

  • Structured interview process – At the beginning of your hiring process, hold a kickoff meeting with the hiring manager to determine their requirements and design the questions that you need to ask. Read more…

  • Be flexible – When scheduling phone interviews, ask the candidate for their availability first and work around it. If they’re currently employed, they might prefer to talk during lunch hour or outside business hours. Provide an estimate of the time you need with them. Everyone likes to know their time is valued.

  • Be prepared – Schedule time before each phone interview to review the candidate’s resume, job description and the questions you’d like to ask. This will also make the candidate feel valued and leaves a positive impression of your organisation. There’s nothing worse than talking about a skill or experience and you’re thinking of someone else.

  • Keep it simple – Design questions that are not open ended, yes and no answers will not give you a full picture.  Make an assessment of how well they match to the must-haves and arrange a more formal second interview.  Ideally you would want to wrap up a call within 15 – 30 minutes.

  • Give them opportunity to ask questions – Remember, these calls also showcase your company and reputation. Candidates will evaluate you as closely as you are evaluating them. You must leave time at the end of the call for them to ask questions to ensure mutual fit.

  • Let them know the next steps – At the end of the phone interview, let the candidate know what to expect and your hiring process. Follow through on what you say – even if it’s just a quick note to let them know that you’ll need more time to make a decision.

Now that the basics of phone interviewing are set up, are you wondering what are the best questions to ask?

During a phone interview, it’s important to assess the candidate as you go along. Keep your interview template handy and tick, or type in areas as you ask them the key questions. Always remember to check the small details – start date, location preferences, salary expectations, hours and work modes they are comfortable with.

  • The basics – Make the candidate at ease and ask about their background, reason for applying for the role and timeline for starting a new job. This will help you get a truer picture of their current situation which is often not reflected in a resume or cover letter.
  • Salary expectation – Important to know the candidate’s ballpark expectations vis a vis your offer before both parties invest further time. Asking if there are any particular benefits that they are keen to earn will showcase you as an empathetic employer. Not everyone is motivated by money but as a general rule most people are looking to increase their income when moving to a new role.
  • Intrinsic motivators – Gauge their interest in the role, ask them what drew their attention. Review their current job responsibilities and what they enjoy doing, review personal motivators (study time, work life balance, a creative environment etc). Listen out for their answers around culture fit, problem solving skills and other behavioural skills.
  • Resume details – Ask them about their professional experience. Give the candidate some space to talk here. Allow them to fill you in on their skills, environments they have worked in and professional experience. Ask follow-up questions if you need more clarity.
  • Red flags – Listen to their responses, is there a lack of enthusiasm or do they seem distracted? Don’t assume, dig a little deeper – if you sense there is hesitation and they’ve already agreed that the timing to talk is right, ask them if they have any concerns.


Once you’ve completed the phone interviews, shortlist candidates for the next step of your hiring process. It’s important to gauge the candidate for both skills and culture-fit. Remember, the phone interview is your first step towards securing the best talent for your team.

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