Engage and hire – a guide to the perfect phone interview

Often the first step in the interview process, the phone call is an important component in establishing a relationship with the candidate and engaging them in the hiring process. If your company doesn’t make a good first impression with new employees, then it won’t attract the top talent.
Here’s some tips for making this first touchpoint count…

First things first, do your prep!

Speak with your Hiring Manager at the very start of the recruitment process to determine the key skills and attributes needed by the candidate. Use this knowledge to create a list of questions for prospective employees and ensure you evaluate all candidates on the same criteria. Before making the call, ensure you’ve reviewed each candidate’s CV and the job description; this will ensure each candidate feels valued and leaves with a positive impression of your company.

Be flexible when scheduling

It’s important to ask the candidate’s availability first, and work around it. Remember, quality passive candidates may already be in employment, so may need to speak on lunch breaks, or outside of working hours. Your job is to make the process easy for them by scheduling a time to talk – even if this means speaking outside of usual business hours. Also, if a top-tier candidate isn’t sure about engaging in your interview process, offer to set them up for a quick phone call with the Hiring Manager instead.

Find out your candidate’s motivations for considering the role…

Once you’ve established why each candidate applied for the role, you can sell them the opportunity. Ensure these motivations align with your organisation’s core values, so you can get a better idea of culture-fit.

Always give candidates a chance to ask questions!

Remember, perspective employees are screening you just as much as you are screening them – so it’s in your interest to ensure a mutual fit! Leave time at the end of the phone call for anything else they would like to ask.

Next step

At the end of the call, let the candidate know what the rest of your recruitment process will look like, and when they are likely to hear back from you. Ensure that you are true to your word – tell them if you need more time to make a decision. In the words of Debbie Harry, ‘Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone’!


Take ten minutes out of your schedule to speak with the Hiring Manager straight after the call, so you can offer feedback on which candidates you feel should be put forward to on-site interviews. It’s important to keep the recruitment process moving along or you risk losing candidates to your competitors. 

Key points to remember…

  • Be sure to always sell your business: Before educating the candidate on job description, you need to demonstrate why your organisation is such a good place to work.
  • Socialise with the candidate: You must never come across as bored and uninterested – if you do, then the candidate is more than likely going to feel that way too!
  • Find out as much information as possible:  Background, skills, experience… you need to gather as much information on the candidate as possible in order to make an informed decision if they’re the right fit for your company.

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