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Phone to F2F: Getting the Most from Interviews

June 4th, 2015 by Jackie Doherty


First off, it’s not just a phone interview.  It’s a conversation that offers value to both you and the candidate by enabling continued information sharing without a significant time or financial investment. Although you probably won’t invite all phone candidates to a f2f interview (generally 50%), it’s important that you both get enough information to decide whether or not to proceed to the next step.

Build on Prior Info: An effective phone interview builds on information gathered from the prescreen by establishing a relationship with the candidate that allows both sides to present themselves and ask questions. A good phone interview enables you to learn enough information to make a decision, and when applicable, close the candidate to the next step in the process.  The phone interview also provides an opportunity to pitch the benefits of a career with your firm and gauge interest before investing further. With passive candidates especially, consider it more of an “introductory call” than a formal interview.

Dig Deeper: Use phone interviews to dig deeper into candidates’ backgrounds, get a better sense of their communication skills, and explore those experiences that are most critical for your role. Consider it a vital tool for deciding if candidates should be invited to the next step—the face-to-face interview.

Manage the Time: A good way to structure the phone interview is to set aside 30 minutes.  The first 5 minutes are the “warm up” when you get to know the candidate on a personal level. The next five minutes focus on selling the candidate on your company and the role. The next 10 minutes dive deeper into the candidate’s background, asking follow up for the most relevant areas and responding to questions. The final 10 minutes provide the opportunity to get more information if you need it or if you have enough information, to move to the next step in the process.

Qualify + Close: Invite only those candidates who meet your minimum requirements, peak your interest in learning more, and seem to be a good fit for your organization. Use the final moments of the phone interview to close the candidate on the next step in your process--scheduling an on-site interview. If you are on the fence about a candidate who seems to have the skills and experience, the f2f will offer more information to help in your decision making, but don’t waste candidates’ time (or your own) by inviting those who are not a good match.

When used well as the next step after a succesful phone interview, the benefits of a f2f interview outweigh the added time and costs involved. With an on-site visit, both parties are involved in a more authentic conversation that includes eye contact, body language, team interaction, and real-time communication without the possibility of props. The f2f interview provides an enhanced opportunity to assess skills, cultural fit, and communication style. It is an essential part of a process of engagement that with each step expands your knowledge of each other, strengthens the relationship, and helps determine the best fit for your team.

At JCSI, our commitment to a strong partnership with you results in a solid benchmarking and prescreening process that is the foundation for a successful search. With highly qualified candidates in your pipeline, your challenge is to select the best candidate for your team using an effective interview process. For more about benchmarking and interviewing, contact us.

Posted in the category Interviewing .

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