The Phone Screen

A friend of mine was talking today about the process she's been going through to hire a direct report.  As she talked about the phone screen process she's just been through, I realized there's a huge variation in what managers understand about the hiring process.  That really shouldn't be that surprising as most managers don't hire very often so they don't get much practice.  Brad Smart put's most manager's ability to hire A candidates at just 20% in Topgrading.

Many organizations use phone screens to ascertain basic information to filter out some candidates.  Criminal background, prior places of employment and other cursory topics may be discussed.  What I think most organizations under utilize is the ability of the phone screen to begin the valuable and oft overlooked culture fit evaluation.

I won't use this entry to convince you of the benefits of culture fit, but rather focus on the benefits of beginning the process with the first phone screen.  Think about the last time you went on a blind date.  How did you choose a neutral location to meet?  What did you talk about over dinner?

Now imagine you had the chance to call your date before deciding when and where to meet up.  You got to know what kind of food they like, what neighborhoods they prefer, and even when they prefer to eat.  This is the kind of information which seems trivial, but actually has tremendous value and impact on the long term nature of your relationship.

It's also exactly the kind of information you can start to get during a phone screen.

Try incorporating the following questions:
- What are you working on today?
- What are your best working hours?
- Do you prefer one on one or team based interviews?

Like a date, once a candidate and hiring manager are in an interview together, they're both trying to impress the other.  If either is underwhelmed, further advances will be rebuffed.  Lastly, just like a date, if you can identify not just the right skills but also the right personality, you can find a partner who will make you and the rest of your team shine.

What are your favorite phone screen questions?