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How to Use Phone Interviews to Narrow Job Candidates

After you’ve sorted through résumés and selected the most promising candidates for your business, conducting a telephone interview can help you narrow the list of individuals to call in for an interview. Before calling a candidate, review résumés and cover letters carefully, noting questions to ask. You’ll likely see a pattern emerge among applicants who are a good fit for your firm.

Estimate how long you’ll need to effectively conduct a telephone interview with job applicants. It typically can take from 15 to 30 minutes — 15 minutes for a basic preliminary evaluation, 30 minutes if you want to ask deeper questions for a more comprehensive evaluation and assessment. The key is to be consistent with your questions so you can fairly compare job hopefuls.

If the candidate isn’t available, and you need to leave a message, suggest a time frame when she should return your call the next day. This request can be a good test of initiative — candidates who fail to return the call or who don’t make a reasonable effort to contact you to make alternative arrangements demonstrate either a lack of interest or halfhearted commitment.

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