Successful recruiters–whether they’re part of an in-house affiliation of human resources or a third party that specializes in attracting talent on behalf of companies–utilize a diverse array of tools to vet prospective applicants. An in-person interview should take precedence over alternate interview options; however, a telephone interview is a viable option. Telephone interviews are pragmatic and offer a multitude of benefits, especially when geographic location and the COVID-19 pandemic are factors. But, the process does have constraints as well.
Nonetheless, it’s essential to understand the up and downsides of using telephone interviews before recruiters and employers integrate it into the recruiting process.
As working professionals across the United States are confined to their homes, and the majority of operational businesses have implemented work-from-home policies in the wake of the coronavirus, in-person interviews for vacant roles are off the table.
Consequently, telephone interviews are an acceptable solution. Not only can recruiters target applicants within the company’s physical proximity, but they can also increase the geographical outreach on a national and even global scale, thus increasing the talent pool and increasing the chances of discovering the perfect candidate for the job.
Cost and Time
As the saying goes, time is money, as are traditional in-person interviews. Comparatively, telephone interviews are an economical alternative. Receptionists can schedule the meetings and thereby streamline the entire process. Instead of interviewing a single candidate per hour, it’s feasible to speak to 2-3 per hour. Phone interviews also eliminate travel costs, such as airfare for out-of-state applicants.
Narrow the Field
Although the U.S. economy is in a temporary state of crisis with millions unemployed and furloughed, it is poised for a rebound once the public health and safety are secured. As the market normalizes, the demand for employment will undoubtedly surge. Naturally, this is a desirable outcome, but it may also initially overwhelm the recruitment process. Therefore, recruiters need to develop a system to screen applicants and narrow the field. After magnifying countless resumes and selecting the most qualified candidates, the natural next step is a phone interview. Phone calls paired with appropriate questions can help recruiters gauge qualifications, communication abilities, and determine if a follow-up interview is warranted.
The most common problem associated with phone interviews is also the most annoying. Even in recurring conference calls, technical hiccups often occur. Whether it’s static, temperamental connections or a dropped call, all affect the quality of the conversation. Technical issues can also generate stress on either side, impairing the participant’s ability to either run the interview or pitch themselves.
Phone interviews limit our ability to perceive body language, which therefore inhibits chemistry and rapport. While certain candidates may have a silver tongue, they may struggle to communicate well in front of an audience. The opposite is also true. Depending on the requirements of a job, a phone interview could inadvertently eliminate ideal candidates.
Phone interviews can leave several items in the dark. Time constraints and the inability to read body language may leave the recruiter filling in gaps with inaccurate information. Open-ended questions, often the most useful to appraise problem-solving and critical thinking, are skimmed over for the sake of time. For obvious reasons, not everyone is guaranteed a second interview and a chance to clarify any ambiguities.
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