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Don't Phone it in -- 3 Tips for Conducting Great Phone Interviews

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 01, 2015 7:01 AM

Phone interviews are about as fun as flu shots. And like shots, they're painful, sometimes nauseating, but a necessary part of life. Deprived of the many cues afforded by a face to face meeting -- the types of visual aids that let us know when the other side is done speaking or if they are even still listening -- phone interviews can be stilted and awkward for both the interviewer and interviewee.

However, there's a reason we do them. The phone interview can be a great, quick way to connect with candidates who are far away, or to screen candidates before bringing them in to meet face-to-face. So don't dread them, make them better. Here are three simple tips to help you conduct improved phone interviews.

1. Be Prepared

Just because it's a phone interview doesn't make you can phone it in, so to speak. To make the most of your time with the candidate, make sure you prepare as you would any other interview, whether it's developing the right screening questions, or being ready to start negotiating salaries.

Those moments of silence when you think of what to ask next or skim through a resume can seem like hours on the phone, especially when the other party can't see what you're doing. Figure out just what you need to know from the candidate and conduct an interview which balances information gathering and providing a welcome, engaging experience for the interviewee.

2. Talk Loud in a Quiet Space

"Can you hear me now?" is not a question to ask in an interview. For a phone interview to work, you need to make sure you've got the basics down -- that you'll have a clear, effective way to communicate. This means escaping noisy office to some place where the background noise won't drown out the candidate's responses. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly as well, so that nothing is lost along the way. If you'll be using a cell phone, ensure you have good reception.

3. Know When to Pause

Okay, so moments of silence can be awkward, but they might also be necessary. Your candidate may want to speak up, without having to talk over you. Don't just wait until you've asked a question to provide a moment for the interviewee to speak; taking brief pauses throughout will give job candidates the space they need to jump in and assert themselves.

The phone interview can be a quick and easy way to introduce yourself to candidates and get a basic first impression. Make the most of it by making sure you're doing it correctly.

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