I haven't kept my love of phone interviews secret! 3 reasons I recommend them so highly to my clients is ease of use, saving time and money and they can actually be more useful than a face-to-face interview.
Let's say your prospective employee lives 3 states away. Or maybe your hiring manager is on vacation. You can wait for the stars to align or quickly do them by phone. I'd like you to remember that time kills deals before you answer. I think you can easily see how phone interviews could be beneficial.
But there is one reason I like them above all else:
The Best Reason For Phone Interviews
No matter where you are located, it takes time to get to your office. It could be 2 minutes or 2 hours away but someone is making an effort to get to you.
Courtesy dictates you should spend at least as much time in the interview as it took for someone to get to you. That means at a bare minimum, you should be spending 15 minutes with each person. Now, what happens if 3 minutes in you know they aren't a fit? In a phone interview, the candidate hasn't had to travel or dress up. So, you aren't compelled to make it last if you find out quickly that they won't work.
Let's say you need someone who has had responsibility for a $1MM territory. The person you are interviewing hasn't had anything even close to that. In a phone interview, you can say, “I appreciate your time, but unfortunately, your experience isn't a match for this role. If anything comes up in the future, I will be sure to be in touch.” You can gracefully end it.
If someone drove 45 minutes to get to you, they would probably have a pretty negative impression of you ending an interview 5 minutes in.
I hope I have convinced you already, but if you need more:
You won't be distracted by what a candidate looks like, their facial expressions or their clothes. You can focus on how they communicate and their answers. On the flip side, candidates will likely be more relaxed and they can also focus on their answers and be listening more closely. So, you could get clearer information if you use a phone interview.
I usually keep my first phone conversations to 15 – 30 minutes tops. The first sessions are used to cover the basic details of the job and figure out if the candidate is a fit. I don't focus on future potential, I cover deal-breakers: do they have the knowledge, background, and skills necessary; do they live in a compatible location; is their salary within the range; have they worked in the right channels or niches; do the have the right product background, etc.
I also cover their deal breakers: will they have to work weekends or nights; is travel an issue; do they want more opportunities than the company can offer; do they need specific benefits, etc.
I can easily cover all I have mentioned in 15 – 30 minutes, plus gauge the prospective employee's interest level and give them a brief overview of the job and company.
So, I can interview a lot more people. I don't have to limit myself to 3 or 4 because I am not spending 2-3 hours on each. I could potentially talk to 20 people for a role which means I get to find a lot more passive candidates and talk to people who on paper maybe don't appear to be a great fit.
I don't know of many jobs anymore where you don't have to communicate by phone or using technology. So, a phone interview is a pretty good view into how someone talks on the phone. Are they too loud or quiet? Are they too casual or use language you don't approve of? None of these are reasons to not hire someone, but it does give you a good indication of items you might need to coach someone on once they are hired.
As a bonus, if you use email to set up the interviews, you can get a peek into their written communication style. Do they use all caps or have bad grammar or punctuation? Can they follow directions?
If I haven't convinced you yet, I am not sure I can. But, I hope you take a second look at phone interviews as part of your hiring toolkit.