Skip to Main Content

Phone Interviews: Ways to Connect with a Candidate


Guest blog by Samantha Rupp.

Phone interviews can sometimes feel cold and awkward. As a hiring manager it’s often hard to gauge a candidate’s personality, abilities, and if they’d be the right fit without the in-person non-verbal cues. However, there are ways to make a connection with a candidate during a phone interview. Follow this simple guide to ensure you and your candidate have a meaningful conversation during the interview.

1. Do your research on the candidate

Before the interview, you want to make sure the candidate seems like they’d be a good fit for your company based on their experience and values. Look over their resume to ensure they are properly qualified for the position. Check the description of jobs listed on their resume and match them with the description on the job posting. Next, look for their LinkedIn profile to see if their resume and LinkedIn profile experience matches up. If there are big discrepancies, this should be a red flag. Then, take a look at their social profiles to make sure their values match those of your company. For instance, if your company works mainly with non-profits that benefit the homeless and a candidate posts or shares photos or videos that make fun of homeless people this could potentially cause problems in the future. In this case, the candidate’s values don’t align with those of your company.

2. Come prepared to the interview

Never call an interviewee unprepared for the interview. Preparing for the interview will help ensure a smooth conversation without awkward pauses for you to quickly scan their resume and will allow for you to focus on making a connection with the candidate. When looking over their resume and LinkedIn profile, jot down any questions you may have about their previous positions and/or job duties. You’ll want to ask any questions you might have to allow for complete clarity. Additionally, using the candidate’s job history to base your questions off will tailor the interview to the candidate, allowing for you to better connect with them. Asking general questions like, “what experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?” will simply get you a summary of one or more of their previous positions. However, taking the time to prepare and asking a question such as, “I see at your last job you worked inter-departmentally. What skills did you learn doing this that will transfer over into this role?” Asking more specific, tailored questions will help you to get a better, more precise answer that doesn’t involve a candidate having to preface with what job duties they performed at their previous employers. This allows you to be able to better gauge the candidate’s answers and if they align with what you are looking for.

3. Interview Confidently

Now that you’ve properly researched your candidate and came up with a list of questions specific to them, you can interview confidently! As phone interviews can be somewhat awkward and can make it hard for you to read candidates based on the inability to see their body language and non-verbal cues, set the appropriate tone for the interview. Most of the time, interviewers set the tone of the interview, whether it be very serious and stern, upbeat and friendly, or very cold. To have the best chance of connecting with your candidate, start the interview with a friendly and approachable tone. This will help the interviewee to feel less nervous and allow for more open communication during the course of the interview. Sanem Ahearn, Head of Marketing for Colorscience advises: “Making the interview more of a conversation rather than a list of rapid-fire questions is a great way to make your candidate feel comfortable enough to open up to you. Connecting with your candidate is important to ensure that they are the best fit for the position.” In addition to setting a nice tone for the interview, open the interview by giving a brief overview of the company. Conveying the company’s values to the candidate is extremely important. Also, if they reference any of them later in the interview as being important to them personally, you can conclude that they have good listening skills and/or share the same values as your company. Next, outline the job and what a candidate can expect from the position. Ensure that you answer any and all questions they may have about the duties of the job in order to set clear expectations. Stop frequently throughout the interview process to ask them if they have any questions as it can be hard for a candidate to know when to ask them during a phone interview without the help of social cues. On the other hand, if your candidate does any of the following, know that the candidate may not be a great fit. Ask the questions you’ve prepared and continue discussing topics within these questions until you feel like you’ve learned all that you’d like to know about a candidate. Then, ask the candidate if they have any questions for you, whether it be about the position or about the company. Stand out candidates will almost always come prepared with a list of end of interview questions. Close the interview by answering any additional questions that might arise and thanking the interviewee for his or her time. Always be transparent about when they can expect to hear back from you and leave them with your contact information should they need to contact you about anything in the meantime.

Connect with Your Future Candidates:

Now that you’ve read these insightful tips on how to connect with a candidate you can begin your next hiring process more proactive and confidently. Remember that taking the time to research your candidate, jotting down questions that are tailored to each individual candidate, and setting a friendly tone for the interview will help you to do your best hiring yet!


Leave a Reply