This is an extract from our full guide ‘How to Conduct Telephone Interviews’.

Recruitment Genius has an automated telephone-screening tool to help streamline recruiting. If you don’t have the benefit of using us, we have listed a few simple steps for you to follow.

Why to telephone interview

Telephone interviewing is becoming a popular method to screen job seekers. It’s a great way to determine if the candidate’s qualifications, experience and workplace preferences are congruent with the position and company.

When to telephone interview

An ideal time to conduct a telephone interview is when you need to assess a large pool of applicants and distinguish who to interview in person. By using this method you can obtain an insight to their telephone manner and how they cope with having to think quickly on their feet. A 15 minute telephone interview can help eliminate unsuitable candidates quickly and ensure you meet the strongest ones face-to-face.

Arranging the interview

You should give the candidate a quick call to arrange a date and time. Try to give the applicants time to prepare and give them information on what to expect from the interview.


Identify what characteristics you are looking for in an ideal candidate. Have a copy of the CV in front of you to refer to throughout. Formulate CV based questions to ensure the accuracy of their CV. Plan the interview so you know when to ask particular questions. Set up a good system to record their information so you can refer to it when it comes to decision-making. If you need any advice, we have a guide on ‘Effective Interview Techniques’.

What to ask

Telephone interviewing should be treated as a simple, scripted, fact-finding session in order to be efficient and effective.

Start off by introducing yourself and the reason for calling. You should then briefly explain the role and ask about their skills and abilities to determine if they have what is required for the job. Then ask questions the candidate is likely to have prepared for such as why they applied for this position. You should answer any queries they may have and then briefly explain the process.

Anything the candidate says that you are unsure of, ask them to repeat. This will help you establish whether or not the candidate knows what they are talking about.

Follow you plan as carefully as possible. This will ensure the interviewing is kept in a logical format and the most relevant points are covered. If the candidate brings up a new point you haven’t covered, use this as an opportunity to ask new questions if you feel they could be beneficial.

Remember, if you need a few moments to jot down any notes, explain why there is a short silence as this can be unnerving for the interviewee.

At the end of the interview, go over what the position is and what it will entail. Allow the applicant to ask any further questions and answer them as honestly as possible. Thank them for their time and inform them of what will happen next. If you tell an applicant you will contact them, ensure you do. Failure to do so could have negative repercussions on your company’s reputation and may deter a good applicant from accepting your job.

Invite them for a face-to-face interview

If you are satisfied with the candidate’s interview then you can proceed to invite them in for a face-to-face interview. If not, inform the candidate that you have other job seekers who appear to have credentials and experience that closely match the expectations of the position.

To conclude

This method gives you an effective way to gain a good overview of the candidate’s accomplishments within a reasonable time frame. You can quickly eliminate the weaker candidates and identify the best ones to interview in person.

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