As talent acquisition professionals, we can get hung up on tradition. Little has changed within hiring operating procedures or employment laws over the last 10 years. Candidates still must apply online. Talent Acquisition professionals still screen, interview, and make offers.

Our corporate organizations still have compensation teams and onboarding groups. We are predictable.  But what has changed for the candidate?  Technology has changed but applicants aren’t privy to the behind-the-scene monotony of the talent acquisition process.

We still make candidates jump through fifteen-minute-long applications, six interviews, and long waiting periods of uncertainty surrounding the status of their application.

We can debate the entire employment process at another time, but for now, I want to focus on what an individual contributor Recruiter/Sourcer can control, and that is the applicant/prospect telephone screen.

Speaking the Same Screening Language

There are several types of phone screens.  The most common is a telephone interview and Human Resources screen, conducted by a talent acquisition team member or company representative as a gatekeeper.

But even before a candidate reaches the gatekeeper, there may be an introductory call with a resume screener or sourcing professional. Later, there can be a call with the hiring manager too.

These calls benefit mostly the employer. The employer gets to ask qualifying questions, verifies education and certifications, and can assess for culture with questions about the candidate’s behavior.

The myriad of telephone screens is usually required as a prerequisite before an in-person interview (pre-Covid).


So, What’s the Problem?

Talent acquisition decisions should be calculated from the candidate’s perspective.  Why?  Because getting a job is still a two-way street.

Some organizations have sacrificed a candidate phone screen for one-way video platforms (recorded answers to prechosen questions), email prescreens (knock-out or other screening questions via email), and artificial intelligence screening via chat-bot.

While our sometimes-titanic moving profession is welcoming in new technology like chat-bot and video interviews, we must use caution and remember the end-user, the candidate.

Technology makes the process efficient for talent acquisition, but it can limit the relationship building and engagement with the candidate.

Ask yourself…Will this technology or process allow the candidate to ask their questions about the role? Limit candidate engagement? Allow our culture to shine? Does this process or technology make the candidate feel important?


Does this Mean Still Screen Candidates?

Personally, I don’t want to see the candidate phone screening step go away. Does it mean I’m part dinosaur holding on to an antiquated process, maybe? The predictable and boring phone interview and screening call between the candidate and hiring professional is meant to help sell the role to the candidate, answer their questions, and ascertain skill or culture qualifications.

A. Two. Way. Street.

What must change about screening prospective hires is the return of the conversation. A conversation is a talk between two or more people.  It should not be one-sided.  A prospective new employee must be given an avenue to ask questions.

This is not just the right thing to do, it is unequivocally required for a candidate to accept an offer. How will an applicant be able to assess an organization without a platform to express concerns and questions?

The psychology of candidate interest is not complex.  Negative aspects in the current job will have to be alleviated by something that a new company is offering before the candidate will accept an interest in a role.

Failure to resolve the negative issues will lead to candidate declines. Declines for screening, declines for interviews, declines for referrals, and declines for offers.

Bottom line, screening is a necessary and vital part of the candidate hiring process.  Just don’t forget to bring the candidate along for the ride.

Screening candidates the old-fashioned way can increase candidate engagement and improve interest in the company’s overall brand.

Happy Hunting.

Christine Hampton

Christine is a Doctor of Business Administration candidate researching talent sourcing strategies in healthcare. This is Christine's 29th year in Talent Acquisition, with the last 9 years focusing on sourcing and recruitment marketing.