What is one thing you listen for in a phone screen interview?
To help job seekers understand what employers are looking for in a phone interview, we asked CEOs and hiring professionals this question for their best insights. From the ability to communicate clearly to assessing how a person thinks, there are several things that employers are listening for that may help you better prepare for your next interview.
Here are nine things employers listen for in a phone screen interview:
- Discerning Candidates’ Personality
- Understand Communication Styles
- Assess How a Person Thinks
- Potential Fit into Company’s Culture
- Attending for a Sense of Humor
- Listening for Active Listening
- Ability to Communicate Clearly
- Answers the Phone Professionally
- Thoroughly Researched Questions
Discerning Candidates’ Personality
As an executive recruiting agency, Recruiterie prioritizes finding high-caliber, culturally-aligned talent for our clients. We use a strategic hiring process to streamline our job search, however, communicating via email, reading LinkedIn profiles, and reviewing resumes cannot replace the connection you can make in a phone interview or in-person interview during the hiring process. Phone interviews help determine if talent will fit into our client’s company culture. We look for glances into a candidates’ personality to see what drives them, differentiates them from the pack, and their personal interests
Jon Schneider, Recruiterie
Understand Communication Styles
The initial phone screen interview is an important part of our hiring process. It’s not the time to walk through the candidate’s resume line by line, but a chance to hear how the candidate authentically communicates. If they struggle to have a 15-minute conversation where they share their story and why they are interested in the position, that might show up in other areas, as well. I try to imagine the candidate communicating with their peers, managers, clients, etc depending on the role. It takes some practice to read between the nerves and allow the candidate to just be them. That’s who I am hoping to see and hear on the other end of the phone.
Jenn Christie, Markitors
Assess How a Person Thinks
During a phone screen interview, the number one thing that I listen for is how the person thinks. When asking them questions, how do they go about answering them? What is the person’s thought process when answering these questions and what motivates them? Are they very business-driven, or are they more philosophical? All of these things can be taken into account when evaluating someone during a phone interview.
Craig Carter, Jack Mason
Potential Fit into Company’s Culture
I look for candidates that have a variety of experience, specifically if they have community and leadership experience in addition to professional work experience. I look for candidates that give back outside of their day-to-day roles, by getting involved and giving back in some capacity. In an initial phone screen, I want to learn a succinct background on the individual, I want them to be prepared, confident, polite, professional, and have good communication skills. A thank you email or card afterward is always a great sign too.
Alison Stine, Stine Wealth Management
Attending for a Sense of Humor
In a phone interview, you might not think you can tell if a candidate is smiling, but surprisingly you can. Listen closely to see if you can tell if they are smiling when they speak. Also, pay attention to whether they use humor when appropriate, which can signal that they have a positive outlook about the position. This positive outlook can mean that they are excited about the position. You want to find candidates who are enthusiastic and eager to work for you, rather than someone who is just looking for any job they can get. Listening for subtle cues like a smile and small, appropriate jokes can help differentiate candidates from each other.
Benjamin Smith, DISCO
Listening for Active Listening
Interjections such as “mmm”, “mmhmm”, and “ok” show me that the person on the other end of the line is actively listening. Interjections are different from interruptions that stop the speaker. With interjections, the speaker can continue uninterrupted while knowing that the listener is paying attention.
Randi Shinder, SBLA
Ability to Communicate Clearly
Listening skills and comprehension is important when you’re in a phone screen interview. As an interviewer, you must be able to get the gist of what the applicants are saying. Did they really answer the question or were they just beating around the bush? Communication skills may also be screened since good communicators are easy to determine over the phone. They are able to express themselves with their words and conversations flow with less dead-airs.
Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs
Answers the Phone Professionally
I listen to how the candidate answers the phone. While many people expect unknown numbers to be from spam callers these days, people who are expecting interview calls should still be prepared to sound pleasant and energetic when answering a call around the expected time of the interview. This effort to be prepared will already show a lot about the candidate’s work ethic and level of professionalism.
Maegan Griffin, Skin Pharm
Thoroughly Researched Questions
During a phone interview, I like to listen for someone who asks plenty of questions. If an applicant is invested enough to have questions prepared, then that means that this role is important to them. In fact, there should be bonus points for questions that are derived from doing individual research — whether via the website or social media platforms.
Dylan Fox, AssemblyAI
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