The Telephone Interview - A Weapon for Critical Hiring During Lockdown - Wyatt Partners

The Telephone Interview – A Weapon for Critical Hiring During Lockdown

Do not underestimate the telephone interview.  It is often overlooked in the hiring process but can be a key weapon in securing the best candidates.  If your company is still looking to complete critical hiring during this period of self-isolation it might be the most important tool you have.

(We recommend a telephone interview rather than a video interview as a first interview as it helps avoid any unconscious bias)

The error that most make on telephone interviews is that they are looking for the wrong things. They see it as a way to weed out poor candidates rather than a way to help attract & close the very best candidates.  (If you fall in the former camp it’s likely you have a candidate sourcing issue)

This is so crucial that it’s worth repeating:  The error that most make when it comes to telephone interviews is that they see it as a way to weed out poor candidates rather than a way to help attract & close the very best candidates

Here is a 4 step process you can follow for Telephone Interviews:


1. Career/Job History review  (10 minutes)

Pretty standard fare.  Go through their jobs and high-level accomplishments in each position


2. Drill down on the candidate’s accomplishments   (10 minutes)

DO NOT ask the candidate if they have experience of ABC or of XYZ skills.  You need a deeper assessment.  Drill down on the accomplishments that most relate to the objective & key results (OKR’s) that this role requires.  You need to establish whether what they have done is comparable to what your business needs doing.


3. Establish if this is a great career move for the candidate     (10 minutes)

If you are not satisfied with candidates’ responses in steps 1 & 2 you can end the call.  If they go well though it is crucial to establish whether this represents a great career move for the individual.  There is often an attitude that ‘if our job is paying more that should suffice’ – It will not.  Let’s be clear about what a great career move looks like:

  • Is this role advancing or stretching the candidate’s experience & skills?
  • Might it offer them greater leadership potential?
  • Will the work be more satisfying?
  • Is there opportunity for greater growth?
  • Can they have more of an impact?

However strong the candidate is for the role on paper, if you cannot establish any reasons as to why this is a great move for the candidate then it is likely you will waste time by taking them forward in a process.


4. Cultural Fit  (10 minutes)

If you have successfully completed steps 1-3 then you can establish whether the culture of the company is likely to be a good fit for the candidate.  It is important to understand what we mean by Cultural Fit; this is not whether you could happily enjoy a few drinks at the pub with the candidate.  By using those criteria you will be doomed to making many unsuccessful hires.  This is about whether the candidate is likely to be successful and thrive in the culture of your business.  Elements to consider and assess:

  • What is the pace of your business, and has the candidate worked in a similar environment before?
  • How do you think they might gel with the hiring manager or other stakeholders?
  • What is the style of the peers and/or stakeholders they will interact with daily? How might they fit into this environment?
  • Are the right resources/tools/structure in place at the company to sufficiently support this person

You conclude the telephone interview and look at what you have achieved in just 40 minutes or less in some instances.  You’ll have a fully qualified candidate who you have already pre-closed on most aspects of the role even before you get to a face to face interview. (Or a final video interview which might be more likely during the Corona Virus shutdown.)

A perfectly executed telephone interview has put you in a strong position to fill your role with a great candidate.  3 well-executed telephone interviews who are then subsequently invited to the next stage can put you in an almost guaranteed position to fill that role.

If you can master the telephone interview you will see both your efficiency and quality of hire improve dramatically.

For more contact Wyatt Partners on 02036035562 or