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Symmetry Authors

Symmetry Video Series


Motivating Employees: HR tips for getting employees motivated and engaged with your company.

Don't Forget to Vet those Candidates

If you are like most business owners, you are inundated with résumés from applicants looking for jobs at your company. Sifting through the summaries of job applicants’ credentials and experience can be a Herculean task. When you find the perfect applicant with a stellar background, your efforts may seem worthwhile. Unfortunately, sometimes applicants who tout amazing credentials on résumés aren’t as stellar as they appear on paper. 

A phone screen is a great step to assess the most promising job applicants before bringing them in for a job interview in your organization. The phone interview enables you to screen the applicant's skills, knowledge, experience, and salary expectations before you invest company employee time in onsite interviews.

The phone interview allows you to eliminate applicants that sounded right on paper and in their application, but who fall short of the qualifications that you seek.

The phone interview saves the company time, money, and the energy that your recruiting team invests in every applicant. A phone interview is time well spent by your hiring manager.

You can fast track or short list your most qualified applicants for your interview process. The phone screens allow you to hold off on interviews with less-qualified candidates.

Questions for the Phone Interview

Questions for the phone interview can comprise a subset of the interview questions that your team has prepared for use at the onsite interviews. You should also create phone interview questions as part of the recruitment planning process.

The basic questions asked in the phone screen should be the same questions for each prospective employee. Follow-up questions to clarify or obtain more information will not be the same, of course, but ensure the basic questions are the same.

The employee who conducts the interview should take detailed interview notes just as he or she would in an onsite interview.

A phone screen takes half an hour to an hour depending on the questions and responses. To honor the candidate's time, and that of the interviewer, my recommendation is thirty minutes. You can cut down on this time if you start with several questions that can narrow your field of candidates.

Asking the candidate for the salary range that they are hoping to receive in a job offer is a good early question. You can assess whether you are in the same ballpark.

Tips to avoid hiring mistakes
Often, inaccuracies—or flat-out lies— will be revealed by a phone call to an applicant’s previous employers or educational institution. A few simple steps can help prevent a bad hire:

  1. Verify applicants’ degrees with schools’ registrars.
  2. Verify applicants’ experience with previous employers.
  3. Call references.
  4. Keep in mind that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes the position that a conviction does not automatically disqualify an applicant from a job. (Make sure your state’s law does not prevent you from asking applicants to disclose convictions.)
  5. Ask applicants to submit to background checks. Follow the procedures of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and any applicable state laws.
  6. Read applications and background check results, and follow up if they raise any red flags.

Bottom line
Those steps may sound simple, but they are basic procedures that many employers failed to follow. Ensure that you have solid vetting procedures to guard against mistakes.