Many companies are vamping up their interview process with better phone screening questions. Screening allows interviewers the opportunity to weed out candidates before moving them ahead to the next step. But how much important information is your phone screening process actually providing? There are a few questions that might be failing you in really discovering which applicants are quality candidates.
Here’s a match-up of questions that look similar, but tell completely different tales:
Why did you apply vs. why do you want this role?
These two questions seem very similar on the surface, but the first doesn’t get down and dirty with why the candidate wants this role. “Why did you apply?” can leave room for vague answers that don’t allow you to discover if they’re a quality applicant to consider for the specific role.
Instead, prompt the applicant to show you how much they know about the position and how they see themselves succeeding in it. This gives you a chance to see if they’ve researched your company, the position, and how much passion they have for getting the role. Listen for applicants to show enthusiasm for the job, and if what they’re saying points to them fitting in with your company culture.
What’s your greatest accomplishment vs. what project are you most proud of and why?
Asking for someone’s greatest accomplishment is a very broad question. As professionals, we can all hope the answer would pertain to their career, but accomplishments can also refer to personal feats — like climbing Mt. Everest or running a half-marathon.
Try being more specific about a project or sales goal they’re most proud of, and don’t forget to ask why they chose that accomplishment. Asking about a relevant project will allow the candidate to explain which skills they’ve used in order to reach this goal. The “why” can give a valuable glimpse into their personality and attitude towards challenges and achievements.
Name one negative about yourself vs. how did you correct a wrong you’ve done?
Naming a negative about yourself is probably one of the most feared interview questions. It’s a tough one, but this question doesn’t give you details about what the candidate has done to fix the situation.
We’ve all made mistakes, so it’s not out of line to ask what mistakes someone has made at a previous job. Following that question up with how they corrected it will let you see parts of their personality the first question wouldn’t reveal. Revealing how the candidate handled a negative situation shows accountability, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
What experience can you bring to this role vs. what have past experiences taught you?
The phone screening process focuses on learning about a candidate before spending anymore time and money on them in the hiring steps that follow. Previous experience should already be laid out clearly in their resume and cover letter. Don’t waste time asking questions to which you can find the answers in their application documents.
Press applicants a bit further to see what they’ll bring to the company beyond the expected knowledge and experience. See if they can articulate what has made them successful in the past. Ask thoughtful questions that reveal how previous employment and volunteering opportunities have affected the applicant’s development, and assess their willingness to learn and grow with your organization.
What are some of your favorite phone screen questions? Let us know in the comments below!