How to Conduct a Good Phone Interview

April 15, 2013

Finding the right nanny/sitter for your family is one of the most important decisions you will make. On you have seen several very promising ads, so now it is time to make the first contact with these candidates by phone. These calls, if successful, may determine who you will have face-to face interviews with, so knowing how to get the most from these short calls takes some thought.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. On the phone you do not have the advantage of seeing body language(smiling etc) which can do so much to define a person's character.
  2. Often people seeking these positions are not confident in their language skills, and may have great qualities but can not describe them well.
  3. The phone can make people shy.
  4. The stress of a short call that has a lot riding on it can cause stammering and poor performance.
  5. Younger applicants may not have the confidence to "put their best foot forward" or "sell themselves".

Realizing all these factors, you, as the potential employer, want to prepare yourself for the phone interview so that you get the most honest representation of these people as you can. This of course is mutually advantageous. You would hate to lose the "perfect" choice because they were too nervous to perform well in a phone interview.

Preparation before the calls:

  1. Before you wrote your ad on, you thought carefully about your needs and wants and prioritized them. Go back to that list and highlight the items that you would like to address in this first conversation. Keep the list short, it is only the first contact and the call should not be overwhelming.
  2. Be aware of your tone of voice and the volume. Sounding too aggressive, authoritative or loud can shut down even the most confident of applicants.
  3. Start the call with pleasantries, keeping it simple for a few remarks. Make sure you are speaking to the correct person, identify yourself, why you are calling, and include a remark such as, "I saw your ad on and I liked that you are particularly experienced with infants", or some such positive reference.
  4. Speak at a pace that could be understood by both English and second-language candidates
  5. Try to create an atmosphere on the phone where the person feels comfortable to speak about themselves. This would include such things as giving them ample time to respond, making small affirmative sounds as or after they speak such as "yes", "mmhum" and so on.
  6. Be flexible with the length of the call. If you seem to make a positive connection, and want to know more, continue the conversation longer than expected. If you are not getting the responses you need to important issues, do not end the call abruptly, but give them the ten minutes that you had planned for each call.
  7. Be honest at the end of they call. Closure might range from, "Thank you for your time today. I wish you the best of luck in your job search", to,"I have really enjoyed speaking with you today and am very excited about meeting you. I have several other calls to make, but I will be calling back to set up an interview".
  8. Finally, enjoy the process. Relax, be physically comfortable while making calls, smile if merited as it comes through in your voice, and embrace this as an opportunity to reach out to new people who are eager to have you as an employer.