What is Phone Screening?

The ideal ways to speed up the phone screening process

Welcome to your new phone interviewing platform

We know you need to make quality hires — yesterday. Your job can feel chaotic when you can't stay ahead. We created a tool to help you screen all of your candidates in one day.

Like traditional phone interviews, but faster

All of the value that comes from phone screens, in a fraction of the time.
Evaluate every candidate in five minutes.
Shorten your time-to-hire by 6-8 days.
Get started instantly, and be up and running in a single day.

Engage via email, texting, and more

Reach your talent wherever they are.

See which channels drive the best results.
Place an interview link anywhere you'd like to source more candidates.
Generate QR Codes that point straight to your interviews.

Identify keywords and hiring insights instantly

Easily find the candidates who are the perfect fit for your company.
Interviews are transcribed with 98% accuracy.
Identify desirable keywords in interviews.
Filter responses to review top candidates first.

Put diversity first

Level the playing field by mitigating bias from the beginning.

Eliminate unconscious bias by using phone interviews instead of video.
Make your interviews fair and equitable with built-in structure and consistency.
Increase accessibility with audio-based interviews.

What is Phone Screening?

The phone interview process is definitely nothing new in the recruiting world. The process is simple. A hiring manager and candidate agree upon a time to have a call to discuss the interviewee’s qualifications for a position. It’s a remarkably standard practice. However, what about the interview before that stage? We often refer to it as a phone screening. But what is a phone screening?

Any recruiter worth their salt knows the difference between a good and bad resume. That is their expertise after all. Unfortunately, a good recruiter also knows that even the best resume or well-written cover letter can be hiding a remarkably unqualified candidate. It is not uncommon for candidates to lie or exaggerate on their resume and outsource their cover letter to a professional. As such, it’s up to the recruiter to separate the wheat from the chaff to find the best candidates to invite to a final interview.

So, when we ask “What is a phone screening?” The answer is that it’s a process to separate the weak candidates from the qualified ones - the ones we really want to see in the final interview. A phone screening isn’t about learning about a candidate in depth. Rather, it’s designed to verify a candidate’s skills with a brief 15- to 30-minute interview.

An effective phone screening focuses on the most important elements of the position. Does the candidate possess relevant knowledge and experience? How did they gain that experience and how can it relate to the current vacancy? Is the candidate looking for an on-site position or are they comfortable with remote work? These are only some of the questions a screening should seek to answer. The exact questions will depend on the role.

Phone Screening Questions

Speaking of phone screening questions. Let’s take a closer look at those. Your options are practically limitless whereas the screening itself is limited to 15 to 30 minutes. That means you have to pick the right phone screen interview questions to fit in that time frame. And that can be hard if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.

It’s helpful here to note that phone screening questions serve a specific purpose - narrowing your candidate list to the top candidates to move on to final interviews. So, they need to identify which applicants have the right skills, experience, and education relevant to the position. This is all necessary to building towards your end goal of finding the right candidate to close your skill gap while meshing well into your company culture.

To help you get started, let’s look at some of the basic questions you might want to include in your phone screening process.

  • When could you start? - This simple and straightforward question indicates if a candidate will work with the current timeline set for your hiring process.

  • Can you tell me about your experience with XYZ? - This will give you quick context as to whether the candidate’s experience satisfies what you’re looking for in the position.

  • Can you tell me about your background? - Similar to the previous question, this provides much-needed context around a candidate’s experience. Plus, it gives them an opportunity to sell themselves as the best person for the role.

With these basics covered, you can continue the screening process with more precise questions such as salary expectations, company knowledge, and reason for applying. Just keep in mind the primary goal is to find a reason to or not to pass them to the hiring manager.

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How Recruiters Can Speed up the Phone Screening Step

The interview stage of the hiring process takes up approximately two-thirds of the recruiter’s time, according to Yello. As such, it is the biggest time sink of the entire process. It is also the biggest opportunity to speed up your time-to-hire. So, let’s take a look at how recruiters can speed up the phone screening step.

The modern recruiter spends roughly 30 minutes to 2 hours just scheduling phone interviews per candidate. Yes, scheduling a mere 5 interviews can take upwards of 10 hours. That really adds up when you have a high volume of candidates to screen. Thankfully, there are tools to mitigate this problem.  

Self-paced interviews are constantly growing in popularity as a solution to the interview bottleneck. This asynchronous interview process involves a recruiter recording their side of the interview. That is in turn delivered to selected candidates at the press of a button - potential hundreds for large-scale hiring efforts. All of these candidates can then reply to the same interview at a time of their choosing, effectively eliminating interview scheduling altogether.

Once these interviews are returned to the recruiter, typically within 24 hours, they can then screen candidates back-to-back. What’s more, in an audio format, these can be listened to in a similar way that one would listen to a podcast. This allows the recruiter to engage in other important tasks while screening.

Take Qualifi customer KHR Solutions as a key example. Before Qualifi, KHR had to manually schedule every single interview with candidates for 10 to 30 minute interviews before moving them to the next step of the process. They were constantly plagued with no-shows and time wasted on unqualified candidates, all while other important tasks piled up. After adopting a self-guided interview approach, they saw their applicant screening time reduced by 83%.

Phone Screening Tools For Recruiters

To keep up in today’s competitive labor market, you’ll need the right phone screening tools for recruiters to make the task fast and easy.

There are many hiring tools available today. They range from power applicant tracking systems to comprehensive candidate assessment software. However, the key here is finding the right tools that suit your company and your needs.

On-demand interviews are an excellent example. Here we find a tool that works for large enterprises and small businesses alike. With the asynchronous structure, small recruiting teams are able to keep up with the extensive recruiting powers of big businesses. Large enterprises that adopt the same solution still see their recruiting time drop dramatically. Both find themselves able to handle large candidate pipelines without sacrificing the ever-important quality of hire.

And there’s candidate assessment software which we mentioned just a moment ago. It comes in many forms, but the principle remains the same. This software is specifically designed to assess candidate skills before they’re even invited to a screening interview, and it can be almost entirely automated to save your recruiters even more time that they would otherwise waste on unqualified candidates.

Using these two solutions together lead to a more streamlined hiring process, capable of keeping up with the demands placed on the modern recruitment team. However, you do still need to find the right tools that work for you, your team, and your industry.

To this end, consider getting a demo with Qualifi to see how you can cut the interview process down from weeks to one day.

Additional Resources