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The True Goal of the Phone Screen

How the Phone Screen Can Make or Break Your Recruiting Process
Collie King

This is the third post in a five-part series on the pre-hire process in high-turnover industries. Our data comes primarily from helping post over 1,000,000 jobs in the building services, janitorial, and security industries.

In sales and marketing, the goal of your first interaction should not be to get the person to buy. That tactic is old, “salesy”, and unappreciated by the general public. Rather, your first goal should be to empathize with the person’s situation, listen to them, and find a way to help them. From here, you can begin to move to the next step of the sales process.

Hiring is no different. The phone screen is the first opportunity you have to make an impression on your potential hire, and first impressions matter.

In our blog on the in-person interview, we share the fact that around half of all scheduled interviewees are no-shows in the security and building services (low-skilled) industries.

This is a greatly undervalued metric that has just as much importance as increasing the number of candidates in your applicant pool.

For example, if you were to increase the percentage of people who showed up to your interview from 50% to 75%, this would have just as great an impact as increasing your total number of applicants from 100 to 150!

Therefore, the goal of the phone screen is to make the candidate excited to come in for the interview so you can increase that percentage!

Common Phone Screen Mistakes

Many phone screens focus on the structural fit of the applicant. Do they live nearby? Do they have experience? Are they comfortable with the pay?

The problem is, these are all questions for the application process - NOT the phone screen.

You should know whether or not they’d be able to do the job based on their application. This wastes a huge opportunity to learn more about the individual and most importantly wastes the opportunity to establish trust and rapport.

Another common mistake is talking about all the benefits in the phone screen. The average candidate has been burned by broken promises many times in the past. Are the benefits going to make them trust you more? Are your benefits better than the other 4 companies interviewing the same candidate?

It’s doubtful, and we’ve seen these conversations negatively impact trust. Place your benefits package in the job listing, but unless they ask first, feature/benefit conversations are more hurtful than helpful in the phone screen phase.

Show Them You Care

The best way to get people to show up for the interview is to show them you care. Empathy breeds trust, and trust is the key ingredient to excellent relationships.

Make the goal of your phone screen to learn more about the individual and try to connect with them on a personal level. Remember, you ARE competing with other companies for this candidate, and you need to separate yourself from the others.

One way to make this personal connection is to start with easily relatable items on their application, such as where they went to high school. Try to connect with them on a personal level based on their application data.

Be appreciative of their prior experience. If they have experience with a floor waxer, place a happy emphasis on that. If they don’t have any prior experience, that’s typically not a problem. If your CEO or phone screener started in their position, tout your equal treatment of all employees and show them the path to greater success.

Find the Right Fit

It’s likely you’re hiring for multiple variations of the same position.

Explain this fact and explain you want to make sure the candidate will be happy and comfortable in the job. Ask them questions such as whether they prefer to work in a crowded environment or an isolated environment. Do they appreciate stringent training or do they prefer on the job learning?

With our pre-hire assessment, this is data you can gather in the application phase. This assessment gives you valuable data to help drive your lines of questioning and have a more personable conversation during this phase.

Placing the applicant in the right position not only builds trust, it increases job satisfaction and increases retention in the long run. This is perhaps the most often overlooked piece of the phone screen, and the piece that has the greatest long-term impact.

Your phone screen can be the difference in getting a candidate excited to work for you and disappearing forever (or quitting too soon). By building trust in this phase, you’re able to move the candidate to the next step in the process. You’ll achieve a higher percentage of people to arrive at the interview as a result.

Ready for Part Four of the series? Click here → How to Modify Your Job Application to Increase Applicant Volume.

Perfecting the Pre-Hire Process Webinar

If you've found this series helpful, we invite you to watch a replay of our webinar where we went even more in-depth on each phase of the pre-hire process. Join our CEO, Collie King, as he dissects each stage of the applicant funnel to help you identify which parts of the process you need to improve.

In the webinar, you'll learn:

  1. How to leverage your pre-hire process as a key strategy in scaling your business.
  2. Which numbers to track in your pre-hire process and why.
  3. How to build trust with applicants and make them want to work for you.
  4. How to generate more applicants, more interviews, and more accepted offers.

Click Here to Access the Webinar

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