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In Search of the Right Fit : Phone screening is the first step in hiring the right person for the job

Businesses are generally so focused on the bottom line, they fail to give anything more than a fleeting thought to their hiring managers. However, as a motivational public speaker, Brian Tracy, says, “As a business owner or manager, you know that hiring the wrong person is the most costly mistake you can make.” On the flip side, he says, “The smartest business decision you can make is to hire qualified people. Bringing the right people on board saves you thousands, and your business will run smoothly and efficiently.”

Since the economic meltdown of 2008, most jobs have at least 250 applicants. Sifting through the resumes can be exhausting and time-consuming. The reason phone screenings are a popular strategy for hiring managers is mostly because it is a major timer saver. 

Then again, more than being considerate to applicants, hiring managers want to ensure they are picking the best in the pack. This is the primary reason that hiring strategies begin with initial phone screenings, which, for many hiring managers, is a method of shortlisting candidates appearing to be a good fit, while weeding out the unsuitable applicants. Thus, the focus of a phone screening is “Should we interview this candidate?” not “Should we hire this candidate?” 

The added benefit of phone screenings for a company is the opportunity to interview a large number of candidates with speed and with minimum cost, and is a saving of resources needed for in-person interviews. Companies can, thus, use resources to meet with candidates who hold promise and are viable potential employees, rather than spending time and money on unsuitable candidates. Phone screens are also advantageous for remote recruiters who are able to take interviews to the next level despite the distance barrier. 

However, as hiring managers get busy preparing for a phone interview, they need extra time to schedule them and get them done. For instance, according to Glassdoor, initial phone screenings add about 6.8 to 8.2 additional days to the hiring process. Another 5.6 to 6.8 days get added when multiple insiders need to participate in the phone screens, as it is hard to coordinate availability of senior staff. Personality and skills tests also get added sometimes, which lengthen the hiring process by more days.

Telephone interviews, which in many cases, now also extend to Skype calls, are generally straightforward as they are focused on rejecting weak candidates. Testing the strength of those appearing to be a good fit, requires more time and deeper, insightful conversation, and are therefore better handled through in-person interviews.  What recruiters and hiring managers seek at this stage is a calm, confident telephone manner and coherent and intelligent answers to common interview questions.

In many instances, companies who engage in strong hiring strategies – from looking for a nominee director Australia to filling other key positions, have a set of questions they ask all candidates. This creates a fair and consistent basis that allows the hiring manager to compare responses and decide whose mindset is more in line with company needs. 

This quality known as the “culture fit” is focused upon more in later interviewing rounds. However, even in the phone screen, there is interest in understanding earlier work situations of candidates, to gauge their pace of work, and ability to work in teams and independently. One question that is asked often is “What made you apply for this job?” The answer gives the hiring manager some idea of whether the candidate has a “feel” for the job. 

As American businessman, Stephen Covey, said, “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.”

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