Help, my phone screen interviews are a mess! 4 quick-fix tips

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Posted recently (2/4/2019)

It's okay, you can admit that you're not the strongest interviewer - I promise I won't tell. However in the interest of sparing candidates thirty minutes or more of misery as they have to navigate what would best be described as the "obstacle course of CLICHE and TRIP ME UP" questions, let me do you a solid by guiding with 4 best practices for forming the right interview questions to engage with your candidates and help you easily figure out who's going to be the true talent to advance forward. We'll put together an amazing example that you can use in your next interview by the end:

1. Every good house starts with a strong foundation

Before getting into any fancy-schmancy asking techniques, you need to first get deep-down and figure out which skills and experiences are most critical for your candidates to possess. Yup, that's a "duh" moment, but to be clear, this involves sitting down with your hiring manager AFTER you've already created the job description so you have time to really dig into what those position need lines mean on a day-to-day basis for their future worker.

If it's a particular skill, ask the candidate to describe an experience where they needed to use that skill to create something complex. If it's a soft-skill, ask them to talk about a time when they needed that skill to resolve a situation. In either case, defining specifics in the question such as where they were, what was the issue, what actions did they specifically take and what were the results can help drive to the answer.

2. Branding, branding, branding...

Many recruiters don't realize (or want to admit) that an interview is as much about evaluating potential employees as it is for candidates to assess a potential future company for fit. In the rush to ensure all questions have been asked, it is very common to forget to highlight all the amazing things about working for the company.

It could be simply talking about the collaborative nature of your employees, the staunch committment to the organization's mission or even fun elements such as free snacks and team trips out, but using positive branding elements for your company as a lead into your questions helps to not only relax your candidate but also advertises the environment they'll experience during their potentially future tenure. It's important to note that by neglecting this important element, at the best case you're representing a "blah" cultural picture for the company, and at worst case causing a negative interviewing experience which will most likely make its way to Glassdoor, Indeed and others. Why make it hard for yourself to reach wider candidate pools? You can easily create consistently positive-branded interviews using the latest automated AI solutions on the market today.

3. Putting a cherry on top with the human touch

Yes, yes, yes I know, this seems overly obvious. But tell me, when was the last time after an interview you realized you didn't thank your candidate after EACH question? I bet it was pretty recent - and don't feel bad because it happens. However, it really is a critical piece to acknowledge that you've been actively listening to your candidates.

No, you don't have to gush in a poetic mess to show your appreciation, but even a quick "That's very interesting" or "Totally makes sense, thanks." is all that's needed to help paint a positive, bi-directional dialogue and helps in a natural transition to the next portion of the interview.

4. Just breathe...

Well, I've been guilty of this before so let me set the scene. You're planning on asking six key questions with your limited 30 minute window since you then have to quickly do a feedback write-up and run the results over to the other evaluators. They're waiting for your piece of the puzzle so the team can make a "go/no-go" decision. The candidate is being thorough in their answers and when you just reach question #3, you look at your watch and realize there's only five minutes left; you rush and try to squeeze as much as you can in pushing for quick answers. Sure, part of your challenge is to plan out the interview better, but at the same time, those six questions could be critical to knowing how good of a fit the candidate would be, so you're in a bit of a pickle, right? Not necessarily.

By encouraging your candidate that you have ample time to listen to them, by verbally giving them encouragment and a moment to breathe, and by giving a partnering nudge to think about a particluar question's needs all can help ease your candidates resulting in quicker overall responses to fit more within the allocated time window.

So synthesizing these concepts together, the following second interview question for a product manager role could look like the following:

That's very interesting, thanks! As you know, MYCOMPANY INC. is dedicated and passionate about our customers' experiences in that we're always striving to create valuable enhancements to our platform that are also extremely easy to use. Can you tell me about an experience where you needed to ensure your customer's needs were going to be addressed in an upcoming product release. Specifically, which position were you at, what actions did you take, and what was the result. No rush, take a few moments to think about a recent position. {{pause8}} Ok, great, what was your experience?

And with that you just created your very first FirstScreen role - easy, isn't it? Let us create a free role with you on a call so you see just how your lives will become significantly less time pressured by automating interviews powered by AI.

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