Why to avoid telephone interviews

Why you should avoid telephone interviews as a hiring manager

A common scenario we come across as recruitment consultants is telephone interviews.  It is a myth amongst hiring managers that this is a time efficient way to whittle down candidates.  Speaking from experience, we’re about to share with you why it’s exactly the opposite and what you should be doing instead:

Why telephone interviews cost more time rather than save time.

A telephone interview is an intermediary stage where generally employers want to qualify the candidate before dedicating time to meeting them face to face.  Qualifying is the process of confirming a candidate has the relevant experience, interests and is a cultural fit for the role they are being recruited for.

When you work with a good recruitment consultancy the consultant will have already qualified the candidate for the role using the information that you gave them.  The candidate would not have been put forward to you without being qualified.  This highlights the importance for partnering selectively with agencies and reducing the risk of time wasting.  We recommend partnering on an exclusive or retained basis with your recruitment agency, in this scenario your role becomes the top of their priority list.

Remember that good recruiters will only put forward candidates that they feel would be a good fit for the job.  At ESP we work with our clients to get a strong understanding of their business, the new role and the expectations from a successful candidate, we only put forward candidates that we feel meet our client’s requirements.

If you don’t think your recruitment consultant knows your requirements well enough to qualify them, rather than carrying out ten telephone interviews yourself, educate your recruiter more on what you’re looking for so they can accurately qualify them for you.

Most telephone interviews are then followed up with a face to face interview and then a final interview.  Therefore, rather than saving your time they are increasing the amount of time that you’re spending interviewing.

Alongside this, there are limited qualities that you can test for over a phone interview which you would pick up on in a face to face.  Emotional intelligence is a highly important skill within sales and something that is much easier to gauge through a face to face meeting.  While organising a video interview can help mitigate this it can still be very difficult to pick up on body language.

What to do if…

…the candidates location is causing issues. 

Sometimes a candidate might be located too far from your office and organising for them to come into the office, or getting to them for an interview will cause problems.

  • Ask the candidate to come to you, or is there somewhere in the middle that you can both reach more easily
  • If not, and it will speed up the process because a face-to-face interview couldn’t happen for a week or so then carrying out a phone interview is probably the best option. Consider making this a video interview so you can still get a feel for their body language.

…you’ve always done telephone interviews before.

It’s time now to take a step back and think about the return on these telephone interviews, are they speeding up the process for you?  By adding in this additional stage, top quality candidates may have already accepted another job because the process has taken too long.  Remember that you are busy and ultimately you’re adding another stage into the recruitment process which will be taking up even more of your time.

Remember you’re using a recruiter who has already qualified this candidate.  If you’re using a good recruitment company they will not put forward a candidate that they didn’t already think was a good fit for your role and company.

…you want to go straight from telephone interview to final interview

Again, we recommend taking a look at this process.  Is this making your overall hiring timeline quicker or are you having a lot of final stage interviews that sometimes drag on to a further interview?


Trust your recruiter, they will tell you when they think a telephone interview is a good idea before meeting the candidate.  This is unusual but generally will be if the candidate is a bit of a curve ball but has potential.

We always recommend to our clients to only carry out telephone interviews where they think it will make the overall process quicker.

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