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Nothing saves time like a phone interview.  Narrowing down the applicant pool by reading a huge stack of resumes is time consuming in itself.  Say I have 20 resumes of all seemingly qualified applicants.  I don’t want to bring in 20 applicants for interviewing; that would take days. Instead, I set up phone interviews and usually knock the applicant pool to a quarter of that in a matter of hours. Never underestimate how much can be gleaned from a short phone conversation.  Below are some key tips to conducting a productive phone interview:

Highlight Sections of the Resume that need Clarification – Before you even have the candidate on the phone, do a little homework. Perhaps there are some large gaps in employment that need to be explained, or questions about specific experience.  This is the time to jot down the specific questions you will be asking later on in the interview.

Introduce Yourself, Your Company, and Your Brand - Don’t sell this part short!  You should have a two minute infomercial about your company that would make the candidate understand why they would want to work for you.  If you happen to have a rock star candidate on the phone, you need to wow them as well. The more exciting the company seems to be, the more the candidate will want to impress you and perhaps “fight” for the job.

Get the Basics Out of the Way – Make sure the candidate is qualified to fill the position, understands the schedule, the location, and while you’re at it - ask their salary requirements.  Just asking these questions will weed out those who don’t fit your bill. BAM – applicant pool narrowed.

On to Some Basic Interview Questions - No need to wow them with your behavioral interview style at this point. These don’t have to be deep questions; just try asking why they are in the market for a new job, what they are looking for, and why they think they are a fit for your company.  These types of questions should enable you to get a good read on their intentions.  BAM – applicant pool narrowed.

Get a Feel for Their Communication Style – are they at a loss for words? Using poor grammar? Are they unable to form complete sentences and using “I don’t know” or “uhmmm” a lot?  True, they may be nervous, but if they don’t seem to be trying it could be an indication of their work ethic or professionalism to come. BAM – applicant pool narrowed.

Gauge their Personality – Do they seem like they would be a fit for the job? What about fitting in with your corporate culture?  Have they described themselves as someone who works better alone when you are looking for a team leader? BAM – applicant pool narrowed.

Follow your Instincts - No one knows the type of person who would be a good fit for the job more than you, so listen to your gut.  By this time, you have probably narrowed down the field to five or less candidates – BAM - talk about ROI!

"This post was written by Jeri Johansen, PHR –HR Blogger and Manager of Human Resources at and Chair of the 2014 Northern Ohio Human Resource Conference ( specializes in employment screening and background checks. You can find on Facebook and Twitter also."