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Step 2- The Phone Screen

In Part 1 I reviewed how I attract and select candidates to move onto the next step, the phone screen.

Now it’s time to meet the candidate.

If they pass the resume review, I do a 30-minute phone screen, NOT Zoom meeting.. All sales jobs require you to be effective on the phone. So, the candidate needs to be able to communicate in an efficient, articulate, and compelling way without the benefit of seeing my non-verbals.

The goal of the phone screen is to add some "color" to the resume and for me to start to get to know the candidate and their communication style. I'm still looking to screen out, not in, at this point.

I require the candidate to call me. Remember, I’m testing all the way through. I want to see if they can follow instructions and if they’ll call on time.

Here’s how I “set up the call”.

“Hi, Sara. Thanks for taking time with me today. I’ve set aside 30 mins. for us to speak. I’ve reviewed your resume and been to your LinkedIn profile. By the way did you get a chance to review my LinkedIn profile?” (Still testing. I want to know if they have figured out that I’m a consultant helping with hiring and not an employee of the company).

“What I’d like to do today is the following:

Review your last three jobs. I’d like to know the following about each:

  • Your compensation structure (several states have made it illegal to ask about how much a candidate makes)
  • How was your commission structured?
  • How did you leave the company better than you found it?
  • What was your quota and how did you perform against that?
  • Why did you leave?

Next, I’ll let you ask any questions you have about the position or company. Lastly, I’d like for us to come to a mutual decision about if we are going to move forward or not.”

This sounds like a lot to cover, and it is. If you’ve never met me before most people assume I grew up on the East Coast based on the pace I speak (I grew up in Kansas). So, you need to make sure you and the candidate is staying focused on the topics listed above.

I stick to the "script” but ask follow up questions to clarify and gain more info. I’m looking for:

  • Reasonable career path progression
  • An increase in responsibility, accountability, and income
  • I want to know how they contributed to the growth of that company

I leave about 5 mins. for them to ask me as many questions as they can. This isn't much time, so they need to ask the most important questions they need answers to. I'm not too judgmental about what they ask, just that they have questions prepared.

As I stated up-front, I then bring up that I'd like to discuss if we want to move forward. I rarely have a candidate bail at his point, but I did recently, and I was grateful he had the self-awareness to know the position I was trying to fill wouldn't be a good fit for him. I do my own dirty work. If I don't think it's a fit or have stronger candidates, I say so right there on the phone, so they don't leave with the wrong impress and are then surprised when they never hear from me again. 

If we both agree we'd like to learn more about each other then I set up a time for them to come into the office or if remote a virtual for a behavioral-based interview.

In the next post, I'll share some of my more interesting behavioral-based interview questions!