April 30, 2018 11:15 AM

Does Phone Screening Actually Work?

Phone screening was once thought of as the ideal way to whittle down a list of potential candidates to a more manageable size. You invited candidates with a stellar resume to have a quick chat on the phone and qualified the ones that you felt worthy of a full interview. However, while it’s true that phone screening can help, it does come with its drawbacks.

What is phone screening?

First things first, phone screening is not about making a decision to hire. It is merely a way to cut down your number of applicants and eliminate those that you are quite sure will miss the final cut.

It is not a time to go too deep into a candidate’s suitability for the role but more like an opportunity to quickly confirm the experience and qualifications listed on their resume. It’s also a great chance to get a feel for their personality and their impressions of the company.

Download our 5-Steps Best Practice Playbook if you want to start changing your  recruitment process right now

The advantages

It’s a time-saver

Even if you have a tendency to chat on the phone, phone screening can still save you a lot of time and accelerate your time to hire. You eliminate the need for meeting face-to-face, and so cut down on the time that you and your team need to spend scheduling and setting up screening interviews.

It’s flexible

You can do a phone screening interview pretty much any time of the day or night. This can prove invaluable to a currently employed candidate who would rather not talk to you in hushed tones in the office bathroom. It’s also good for your team as they can schedule calls during quiet times of the day when they will have fewer interruptions.

It allows you to remain objective

We all know that first impressions count for a lot and unfortunately this means that as recruiters we are sometimes subconsciously biased towards certain types of candidates. Phone screening eliminates this possibility for the simple reason that you can’t see your candidate. Although this may still be an issue at the final interview stage and it’s something that you definitely should be aware of.

It levels the playing field

Candidates that live far away or that can only manage to make one trip to attend an interview may find themselves out in the first round of manual screening. However, the phone screening process gives them an equal opportunity to impress no matter how remote their location is.

The disadvantages

It’s a time-waster

What? Wait, didn’t we just say that this saves time?

Yes, we did. However, although a phone screening process can cut down on the time you may spend in screening interviews, when compared to manual screening or that carried out by your Automated Resume Screening software it can actually add days to your time to hire. Now you know us, we’re all about accelerating your time to hire, so adding as many as eight days to the hiring process seems like a deal-breaker to us.

It can be unrealistic

In some cases, phone screening may only involve calling a dozen or so candidates but what if you have hundreds if not thousands of applicants? And what if a high percentage of those candidates are qualified? It’s a rather pleasant thought, but the fact is that arranging a phone interview for each qualified candidate isn’t always a realistic option which leads us to our next point.

It’s not foolproof

Well, nothing is foolproof in recruitment but what we’re getting at here is that with so many candidates and so many phone calls to set up, you may inadvertently let a few good ones slip through the cracks through missed calls or calling at inopportune moments. And with this being a lengthy process, by the time you get back to them, your competitors could have pinched your superstar candidates from right under your nose.

It’s not personal enough

Sometimes it’s easier to talk on the phone, and you may find that your candidate relaxes and is quite open to your questions. However, the problem with phone screening is that there is no physical interaction between you and your candidates. You can’t see their body language or read their physical reactions to your questions.

It puts a candidate under pressure

Now the ideal scenario would be to email all qualified candidates and arrange a specific time for a chat. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way, and you may end up making unexpected calls to your candidates.

Some recruiters will tell you that this is ideal because it gives you the opportunity to test them ‘on their feet.’ The problem is that your candidate will assume that they cannot reschedule the call feeling that they’ll ‘miss their chance’ and so even if it’s a bad time, they’ll struggle on through the interview and most likely lose the opportunity anyway.

So does phone screening actually work?

Yes, without a doubt phone screening when carried out properly does work. It’s a great way to qualify your candidates and cut down on time wasted both for you and your applicants.

Phone screening interviewsHowever, those disadvantages may outweigh the benefits. For one thing, we’re not so sure that increasing your time to hire by eight days is such a good thing. We also remain unconvinced that making a snap decision based on a quick phone call is the right way to eliminate or qualify candidates.

We ourselves prefer a more involved process where human decision is backed up by extensive data. Make sure you're asking the right questions with our handy little guide if phone screening is a part of your process.


What do you think? Is the phone screening process a viable solution to your recruitment difficulties or is the added delay in hiring too much of a disadvantage? Do you agree with our assertion that a recruiter's decision should be backed up by data?

At vsource, we believe that the best way to cut down on the need for extensive screening is to have qualified candidates in your pipeline before your start accepting applicants for a role. Want to learn more? Then get in touch to book a free demo today.

Request a Demo

Subscribe Here!



Complete Sourcing Playbook



High Volume Candidate Sourcing