First off, it’s not just a phone interview.  It’s a conversation that offers value to both you and the candidate by enabling information sharing without requiring a significant time or financial investment. Although you probably won’t invite all phone candidates to a f2f interview (generally 50%), it’s important that you both get enough information to decide whether to proceed to the next step.

Learn More: An effective phone interview builds on information gathered from the prescreen by establishing a relationship with the candidate that allows both sides to present themselves and ask questions. A good phone interview enables you to learn enough information to make a decision, and when applicable, bring the candidate to the next step in the process. The phone interview also provides an opportunity to pitch the benefits of a career with your firm and gauge interest before investing further. With passive candidates especially, consider it more of an “introductory call” than a formal interview.

Dig Deeper: Use phone interviews to dig deeper into candidates’ backgrounds, get a better sense of their communication skills, and explore those experiences that are most critical for your role. With the resume as your blueprint, probe deeper into accomplishments to get a sense of their personality, work style, and interests.

Manage Time: A good way to structure the phone interview is to set aside 30 minutes.  The first 5 minutes are the “warm up” when you get to know the candidate on a personal level. The next five minutes focus on selling the candidate on your company and the role. The next 10 minutes dive deeper into the candidate’s background, asking follow up for the most relevant areas and responding to questions. The final 10 minutes provide the opportunity to get more information if needed or move to the next step.

Qualify + Close: Invite only those candidates who meet your minimum requirements, peak your interest in learning more, and seem a good fit for your organization. Use the final moments of the phone interview to close the candidate on the next step in your process—whether that is scheduling an on-site or group interview. If you are on the fence about a candidate who seems to have the skills and experience, the f2f will offer more information to help in your decision making, but don’t waste time (yours or theirs) by moving forward with those who are not a good match.

When used well as the next step after a successful phone interview, the benefits of an on-site meeting outweigh the added time and costs involved. Both parties can have a more authentic conversation that includes eye contact, body language, team interaction, and real-time communication without the possibility of props. The f2f interview offers more information about cultural fit, personality, and communication style–a process of engagement that advances your knowledge of each other, strengthens the relationship, and helps determine the best fit for your team.

At JCSI, our solid benchmarking and prescreening process provides the foundation for a successful search process. With highly qualified candidates in your pipeline, your challenge is to select the best match for your team using an effective interview process. For more about benchmarking and interviewing, contact us at