How to get the most out of phone screen interviews

You might be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of a vacancy in your business due to growth or maybe a resignation. However it is important to invest time in the recruitment and selection process to ensure you are attracting the best people and ultimately hiring the right person.  A phone screen interview is an important part of that process. 

There are many employers who either don’t conduct phone screening of candidates or who don’t ask the right questions, only to find when candidates attend an interview they are not suitable.

Phone screen interviews are an opportunity to validate key information from the application;

Clarify previous roles and level of responsibility

By asking candidates to tell you more about what the role entailed, you can see if the fit is as it appeared to be on their resume. It will also allow you to gain clarification as to whether they assisted or were responsible for certain tasks.

Learn about previous employers

Learn more about a candidate’s previous employers to see if there is a match with their experience and your business. It will allow you to gain clarification on location, product or service, size of the team, public or private to name a few.  

Validate qualifications, memberships and registrations

If certain qualifications, memberships or registrations are an important requirement for the role, you can gain clarification on the qualification, length of membership, and expiration dates on registrations.  

Understand processes and software applications used

Understand what processes or software applications were used to undertake key tasks and what a typical week or month would look like. It will allow you to gain clarification on their level of experience, what volume of work they have the ability to process and technical knowledge.

It is also helpful to break the ice with some of the following;

  • What attracted them to apply
  • Why are they looking to move
  • Salary expectations
  • Notice period and any planned leave
  • Work rights
  • Availability to attend an interview on x date(s) if successful in progressing to the next stage

Now that you have more information about your shortlisted candidates, create an interview scorecard and provide an overall score and rank for each candidate. This will allow you to determine which candidates have been successful in progressing to the next stage of a face to face interview.

If you don’t have the time to phone screen yourself, our expert team can do so on your behalf.

Contact Small Business Society for more information.


Receive our monthly newsletter and get regular templates, checklists and resources to assist you on your Human Resources journey.

Get our free 45 page Human Resources Guide right away to help you take the first steps in setting in place the platform for a best practice human resource function for your small business.

* indicates required


Are your leaders the best they can be?
Sign up to Small Business Society and we will send you our FREE 8 point plan for effectively supporting and developing your leaders and managers.

FREE 8 point plan for successful leaders


About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.


Looking for more information on the various stages of the employee life cycle or Human Resources in general?  The following may interest you.

Articles to assist you with the hiring process:
The steps I take to write a job advertisement that attracts the best people
The must ask interview questions

Articles to assist you with developing and coaching your leaders:
9 coaching questions to help your leaders lead

Plus lots more information and advice:
Small Business Society Blog