I’ll admit, one of the main reasons I do a first interview via phone is because most of my clients are across the nation, while others are in a different nation! It’s just physically impossible for me to drive or fly from place to place simply to conduct interviews. I can’t be in California at 10am and then New Hampshire an hour later.
But that’s not why I prefer a phone interview and strongly recommend anybody else to do the same.
No matter where you are — no matter how small of a town you’re in — it will take at least 10-15 minutes for somebody to get in their car, drive to your office, get out, wait in the waiting room, and then sit down to get interviewed.
Common courtesy dictates that the interview should be a bit longer than it took the interviewee to get to you. That means each interview should last for at least 15 minutes.
So what do you do if you realize relatively quickly that this isn’t going to be a fit (say 5 minutes into the interview)? Chances are because you want to be courteous, you’ll be stuck trying to make the interview last for 15 to 20 minutes and wasting both your and the candidate’s time.
A phone interview will save you time.
It’s such an easy way to make sure that the candidate is actually interested, and has the experience and qualifications you’re looking for. This is a great tool to go through the deal breakers and discuss things like compensation, commute, etc. That way, you can avoid the awkward moment when it becomes obvious that the position isn’t right for the candidate and you just wasted a huge amount of their time (and yours).
A phone interview can help you focus.
Doing a phone interview helps entrepreneurs and people who are new to interviewing to just focus on what the person’s saying without being distracted. It’s easy to get distracted by what a person is wearing or when a candidate is fidgeting.
Without these distractions, you can make a more level-headed decision on whether or not to pursue this candidate. I am not saying non-verbal cues aren’t important, they certainly are. But, for the initial conversation – you should be able to get all the info you need from their answers alone.
A phone interview gives you insight to how they will communicate.
Today most business communication happens over email, on the phone, or in person. I like to use email to set up the phone interview – it will show me if they use all capital letters or if they have terrible grammar. Depending on your business, the candidate may exclude themselves simply by typing “I ain’t going to be around on Monday, so it’ll have to be Tuesday.”
The phone interview gives you a first-hand chance to experience how they will come across to your customers. Are they hard to understand? Do they talk excessively loud or fast?
Side note: I tend to talk loud and fast and that isn’t always bad, but if you find yourself pulling the phone away from your ear or repeatedly turning down the volume, that is something you will have to coach them on if you hire them.
What do you think about phone interviews? Do you love them or hate them? Have I inspired you to give them a chance? If I have, make sure to read the second part of this two-part blog entry where I discuss what to cover in a phone interview!
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