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The Telephone Interview Method

Ever conducted a telephone interview and wonder if it’s an efficient method of interviewing? Usually, this method of interviewing is used at the primarily phase in the pre-selection of the selection process, normally known as the screening process. Nowadays, probably the most frequently used pre-screening tool is the telephone. Most organisations use this method to narrow the number of applicants who will be invited to attend a formal face to face interview by eliminating those who don’t have the essential technical knowledge and skills, formal education and years of experience to successfully do the job. Nowadays, new technology (in a way) have influence and replaced the telephone as the premier tool of interviewing, but the fundamentals and principles still remains, regardless if someone uses email, teleconference (internet audio line or video) or even fax.

Telephone interviews are used to obtain quick answers to any questions that may be posed by the applicant’s resume. This method is used to obtain additional information about a candidate’s skills and experience than can be obtain from the application or resume. I favour this method of interviewing because one advantage is that it can be accomplished quickly and economically. Well I guess these two words (quickly and economical) will please any organisation. Without telephone and those new high tech communication tools, organisations would be overwhelmed by the task of interviewing candidates face to face who could have been disqualified much earlier in the process.

In a typical telephone interview, the interviewer spends a few minuets explaining the position and how it fits into the organisation. The interviewer then asks some predetermined questions about the candidate background and education, and attempts to clarify any inconsistencies in the resume. Typically, the interviewer inquires whether the applicant has any questions about the position, and concludes the interview by explaining what the applicant can expect to occur next in the selection process. Telephone interviews are usually highly focused and last about 10 to 15 minutes. The interviewer must also remember that while you are evaluating applicants by phone, good candidates will also be evaluating you. But don’t be afraid to ask hard questions such as reasons for leaving a job, accounting for periods of unemployment, relations with supervisor and specific details about work or educational background. Be sure to represent your organisation well by remaining professional, intact and courteous.

The advantages of telephone interview are fast, easy to accomplish and cost efficient. This method of interviewing is an effective way to narrow the field of applicants to those who will be offered a personal interview. When there are any possible negative factors about the position or your organisation, telephone interview give the prospect a chance to discuss it before extending an invitation for an interview. The surprise element of telephone interview will benefit the interviewer because the applicant is normally not prepared; therefore, not ready to manipulate any answers because the applicant might not have their resume in sight. The disadvantages of telephone interview are that it eliminates the possibility of evaluating an applicant’s nonverbal behaviour, usually known as “body language”. In addition, it’s easy for an interviewer to judge a candidate on the basis of “telephone presence” instead of mandatory success factors. People who would otherwise make excellent candidates may not have good telephone communication skills. Interviewers must never call an applicant at work to conduct job interviews. This is not only unethical; it put the applicant in an awkward position as other people might be nearby who can hear the conversation. I strongly recommend the call to be made to the person’s home in the evening or after their working hours. Telephone interviews are not as good as face-to-face interviews when you are dealing with complex issues, moreover interviews are often conducted at times that are convenient to the applicant, but not for the interviewer (evenings, early mornings, weekends). Telephone interviews at an applicant home can involve many potential distractions like friends stopping by, calls on other lines and background noise. Bottom-line, telephone interview is economical, quick, and create an element of surprise. Always use telephone interviews as part of your tool for “narrowing or winnowing the field”.

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