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During our economic recovery, companies are expanding and needing to not only hire new employees, but also to hire the best and brightest. Customer experience and service can make or break your business in today’s information age. So the caliber of candidates you interview and hire should be a reflection of you and your ideals.

Phone screening: After you decide to hire, determine what the position will entail, place advertising and go through the resumes. Start calling the candidates. Don’t think for a minute that you should invite every applicant in for an interview just because his or her résumé is attractive. The initial phone conversation with these candidates can provide a significant amount of eye-opening information.


Screening candidates by phone helps narrow the field. This process can be tedious as there are many outgoing and incoming telephone calls. The conversations themselves can also be deceptive but will save a great deal of time in the long run as you’ll eliminate some potential time-wasting interviews.

“It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Once the candidate’s on the telephone, ask a couple of crucial questions. This conversation is not the time to conduct an entire interview. You’ll be surprised how much information can be gathered with a short phone conversation.

The following are some non-optimum points to watch for:

• The person hesitates or long-pauses before every answer.
• The candidate sounds preoccupied with some other activity while talking to you.
• The person does not really answer the question, but veers off in another direction.
• The candidate has to consult his or her résumé in order to answer your questions.
• That prospective employee acts as if he or she has another job secured and you’re less important.

Good signs present themselves as well and include the following:
• The candidate seems genuinely pleased to hear from you.
• The potential employee has been expecting your call and is prepared to talk.
• He or she knows about you and your company.
• This prospective hiree reveals a high interest in the company and the position.

Thank the candidate at the end of each phone call and let him or her know that this call is an initial phone screening and you’ll be calling back, if selected, to arrange an interview time. This call provides the opportunity to look at your notes from the initial phone screening, and compare them to the candidate’s résumé.

All of this information may seem tedious and perhaps a bit unnecessary if you’ve never been this thorough in the past. However, since you’re reading this blog or my book The Naked Interview: Hiring Without Regret then you may have been experiencing personnel problems or be looking to end distressing turnover that has been haunting your business for years.

Due diligence will take an employer a great distance. First, ask yourself the right questions so you know the ideal candidate you want to interview. Use phone screening for a couple important questions before he or she interviews, and ask about actual products from his or her previous jobs. This careful approach will help pare down the prospects and provide a relevant selection of candidates from which to choose.

Heed honest Abe’s wisdom and be thorough before bringing someone into your “work family.”