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Image Credit: <www.codinghorror.com

Image Credit: <www.codinghorror.com>

Prior to the Generalist role I’m in today, I was a Compensation Analyst.  

Ergo, while I in my current role I do plenty of face-to-face interviews for internal openings, it’s been a while since I’ve really done any phone screens.

With that said, this week I’m going to knock out some screens for a few of our positions that have gone external. Looking back on the phone interviewing process with a fresh set of eyes, however, I can immediately see some issues with it:

1. (Most) recruiters don’t do (and have never done) a majority of the jobs 1. I’m pretty comfortable with our jobs now because of how closely I had to understand said roles to grade and advise around them, but when I started my career (as a recruiter) I was pretty clueless about many of the technical jobs I screened for.they source for. 1 As such, the depth of the questions they can ask is limited. It’s of course possible for a recruiter to ask highly technical questions and then share the answers with the managers after the fact… but if the recruiter isn’t making the decision on who to advance then at that point they’ve become a glorified note taker, yes?

1. Building on the above point, phone screens – where you know almost nothing about the candidate, aren’t a subject matter expert in the job, and are (typically) asking exclusively behavioral questions – lend themselves to favoring the interviewee with the most winning personality. I suppose there are jobs where this is the most important criterion, but most of the time it means that in the first round you’re advancing the most gifted communicators as opposed to the most talented performers.

3. Often, when we are doing phone screens we’re (somewhat) rushed. The candidate we’re talking to is one of many on a list of people to screen, and the lack of face to face intimacy puts fewer demands on our time and attention. I take every candidate (phone screen or not) seriously, but I’m 2. …or that I can at least see. Companies like Spark Hire are doing some innovative things on this front. I think video interviewing is where we’re headed. It’s where we should be headed. It will improve the quality of first round interviews (and save on the cost of flying out candidate’s for seconds).more engaged with candidates that are right in front of me. 2

Ultimately, phone screens obviously play an important purpose in the recruiting process (they allow us to at least talk to candidates before spending considerable time and money bringing them in for a face-to-face interview). Conversely, I do wonder how effective the process is at identifying the actual best candidates (don’t even get me started on applicant tracking systems).

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.



If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com