Guide to Telephone Screening

A guide to conducting a consistent and fair telephone screening process with Telephone Screen template.

A telephone screening interview is used primarily after the CV/application sift process to help to further whittle down a shortlist to a manageable size by assessing a candidate's fit with the essential role criteria and to clarify the core contract requirements meet expectations prior to the main interview. They are usually between 15 and 30 minutes long and should cover:

  • Contract Deal Breakers: Working Hours, Salary, Location, Contract Type (FTC/Perm/Temp etc)
  • Understanding of the job requirements: Describe the role and organisation in more detail and test the candidates understanding of the job, their reason for applying. You may wish to check gaps in work history and unusual career moves although for equality purposes we recommend doing this at face to face interview if possible.
  • Essential Skills Match: Check they have the core essential qualifications, experience, and skills as per the job brief
  • Availability: Check their availability for the interview process and their notice period.
  • Recruitment Process: Advise the candidate of the steps involved in the recruitment and screening process i.e. DBS checks, Psychometric assessments, Aptitude tests interview process etc.

Invitation for telephone interview

Ideally candidates should be invited to complete a telephone interview at a mutually convenient time and be provided with a copy of the job description and an outline of what will be covered. If you are working to tight deadlines and phoning candidates without a scheduled call, make sure you check it is convenient for them, that they are somewhere private, where they can talk for the expected duration of the call and be open to rescheduling.

Notes on conducting the interview

  • Make sure you have read the CV/ application form prior to conducting the interview.
  • Highlight any talking points based on the objectives of the screen.
  • To reduce unconscious bias and to ensure consistency, we would recommend you have a scored system for the telephone screen outcomes based on the job criteria.
  • As a minimum the interviewer should keep a record of the responses and the outcome of the interview and if applicable write some feedback notes for HR to give declined applicants.

Feel free to download and adapt our telephone interview template.