Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Phone Screens - Good And Bad Examples

2017-12-05 11:44:04

My company and hiring teams are going full steam ahead during December. We have interviews, phone screens, and sourcing sessions set up for the next two weeks. Last Friday I had two hiring managers call two very different candidates. Both of them ended up not moving forward with their respective candidates, but their feedback to me on each was miles apart. I'm sharing these anecdotes as a cautionary tale.

The first phone screen was on specific technical concepts. There were both "put this in your own words and explain it to me" as well as "what is your opinion of XYZ as a way of accomplishing ABC goal?".
I was appalled at the response from the hiring manager.

"In any event, many of the factual questions I asked were followed by long pauses while she said she was thinking, and then all of sudden she had a very articulate answer. I believe she was googling as she went, and in some cases, it sounded like she was reading from something she found on the web verbatim.

She didn’t do very well on the questions that were more opinion / approach based. Pass."

The second candidate was a longshot for a Software Engineering position.

"Really nice guy, but he lacks in all technical areas. Even his education was more of a technical school where he learned several languages but not the CS fundamentals (he rated himself on a scale of 1 to 10 as 3 in terms of algorithms and data structures). I told him as much and even gave some career advice. I also told him if he takes some additional courses and hones his tech skills, I’ll be happy to talk to him again."

The first candidate looked great on "paper" (resume). The second candidate was a known longshot, but his resume showed self-improvement, tenacity, forethought, and he took on interesting challenges. (This phone screen also illustrates my point in this previous blog on bootcamp programs ).

These two conversations illustrate *why* organizations have an extra layer of screening these days with functional phone calls (across the board, not just technology jobs). Part of the goal of phone screens is to determine if a candidate will even survive the interview process. I am APPALLED at the first candidate's behavior. I am also assuming that her resume is heavily "padded". She needs to go back to the drawing board and rethink her career choices if she cannot even answer basic questions in her chosen field.

A phone screen is still considered a formal interview, and job seekers should treat it as such. If you are speaking with a recruiter/HR it is totally appropriate to ask what to expect in a functional phone screen and how to prepare, just as it is for an onsite interview.

Your "Unofficial" References
Timing: When To Apply For A New Job

Comment on this blog
Your name:

Your email (will not be displayed):



Enter the text above to help us filter spam:

This article also appears on
Human Resources