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Hiring Rock Star Employees, Part 8: The One Thing You MUST Do During a Phone Interview

Hiring Rock Star Employees, Part 8: The One Thing You MUST Do During a Phone Interview
Laura Hatch

If you’ve made it this far in the rock star hiring process, then you’ve finally got a promising job candidate on the phone. But before you dive into your usual phone interview process, stop for a moment to ask yourself one question.


This part is crucial.


Did the candidate use good judgment in answering the phone?


Of course, he or she is eager to take any call from a potential employer. But should the call have been taken at this very moment?


Within the first 10 seconds of the call, you will have a lot of information about the candidate just by listening closely.


Is there a lot of background noise? Perhaps it’s because the candidate is on public transit right now. Fine, in theory—but you’re not going to have that person’s full attention during the phone interview. Is the noise level due to the fact that the candidate is at home with the TV on full blast, or with kids yelling in the next room? Any high-quality job candidate will have the sense to turn off the TV or close a door before answering the phone (or to let the call go to voicemail and wait for a better time to speak with you).


On the other hand, does the candidate’s voice seem to be very hushed or even whispering? That’s a sure sign that he or she is taking personal calls at work… a behavior that is certain to continue at YOUR office if you hire this person.


In each of these scenarios, you have to ask yourself if it was a good judgment call. You need team members who can make good decisions day after day. Candidates who can’t do it on the fly in a phone interview are not going to be making great decisions in a dental office.



If this candidate passes the first few seconds with no strange noises or odd behavior, great. What you need to do next is LISTEN. Ask a question. Then, stop talking and really listen to the candidate. SHHHHHH… Listen closely! (You should also take notes, so that you can compare your impressions of candidates later on.)


What to listen for when you have potential candidates on the phone:


  • How do they sound? Polite, open, and cheerful? Or is it distracted, noncommittal, are they mumbling?
  • Are they using a lot of slang, or do they sound professional?
  • How do they answer the question you asked? Do you agree with what they’re saying?
  • Do they respond to questions with one or two words only? On the flip side, do they continue responding to one question for the next 20 minutes because they don’t know when to stop? (Remember, you’re also testing candidates on their understanding of when THEY should stop and listen.)


Consider how it would feel for patients to interact with these candidates on the phone or across a desk. Would patients like to talk to them, or would they not?


Don’t miss the next installment of this series—you’ll learn which staff in your office will have the best intel on a candidate’s personality (hint: it’s not the person conducting the interview).

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