As I listen to employers talk about phone interviews, I realize that firms are over-reaching with what they are attempting to accomplish with this initial telephone call. It seems like so many firms are making judgments about candidates that may leave them exposed to accusations of bias–poor oral communications for a person with a modest accent yet in a role for which oral communications are of modest importance can leave a firm open to attack.
What a telephone interview is designed to do well is test basic attitudes, skills competence and candidate maturity and reasonableness.
Here are questions that you can ask to do basic assessments of suitability:
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
What made you apply for this position?
How many years of experience do you have with _____?
What are the major responsibilities you perform in your current or most recent position? Why are you considering leaving your current position?
What do you know about this company/position? What is the most important thing you’re looking for in a company/job?
What is the most significant accomplishment you have made in your career?
What is your greatest weakness/strength? How well do you handle stress? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ask three to five basic questions designed to assess their actual skills
When would you be available to start? What are your salary expectations? Do you have any questions for me?
What you are listening for is intelligence, poise and maturity. If someone offers immature answers to these questions, reject them. If they cannot answer the three to five concrete skills questions well, reject them. If they have not had the breadth of responsibility that leaves you comfortable, reject them.
Otherwise, plan on meeting with them and others to investigate further.
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