Hiring: The phone screening process

Jan. 3, 2017
You’ve successfully posted a job opening at your company and resumes are flooding in. What’s your next step?

You’ve successfully posted a job opening at your company and resumes are flooding in. What’s your next step?

Before I talk about how to screen resumes, I want to suggest that you do something similar to a cost-per-mile analysis on your recruiting efforts. In others words, you should track your cost of recruiting to determine how much it is costing you to find the right employee.

You can develop a simple spreadsheet that includes:

  • Sources you received resumes from
  • How much it cost to post a job or attend a job fair
  • The number of resumes from each source
  • The number of qualified resumes from each source
  • Number of phone screenings by posting source
  • Number of interviews by posting source
  • Number of second interviews by posting source
  • Number of hires by posting source

This will help you determine the best recruiting sources and prevent you from wasting time and money on sources that don’t produce results for you. One thing to note, keep the spreadsheet by location because a source that works in one area may not be effective in another.

One big complaint from job seekers is that they feel like their resumes go into a black hole. I encourage you to respond to every resume you receive even if you are not going to phone screen an applicant.

You can set up a simple follow-up in your email program to send a “thank you, but we are not interested” message. Remember your goal is to make applying for a job a positive experience for everyone. And even if you don’t hire an applicant for the current opening, they may be right for another job or they may know someone who would be a good fit.

Screening the resumes themselves goes back to the job description you wrote for the position. Remember that no person will be a perfect match for 100 percent of the job requirements; choose a few key “must haves” and a few “deal breakers.”

Separate the resumes into two piles: those you want to continue with and those that are not a good fit. Send the “thank you but we are not interested” email to the latter group.

As soon as possible, contact the applicants you are interested in to set-up a phone-screening interview. Again, the phone screening needs to be based on the job description so you need to write questions based on the job description. You will want to ask the questions that will help you decide if you want to invite the applicant in for a face-to-face interview.

Here are some suggestions of questions you might ask, depending of course on the job description:

  • What interests you about this position?
  • What type of experience do you have doing this type of work?
  • What is motivating you to look for a new job?
  • What would your former employers or customers say about you?

Keep the phone screening short and at the end of the conversation let the applicant know that you will follow-up. For applicants you are not interested in, send an email that basically says, “Thanks for applying, but we will be moving forward in a different direction.”

If you are interested in an applicant, schedule an in-person interview immediately. And make sure you’ve scheduled in advance all of the the people who will be involved in the interview process.

In my next blog, I will focus on the interview process.

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