6 Reasons to Kill the Manager Phone Screen

December 11th, 2020
HireVue Team
Diversity & Inclusion,
Tips & Tricks

Are you still using phone screens in your interview process? In the words of HR leader Marci Sigmund, of Sykes Global, phone screens are “[...] so 1985. Everyone ends up looking the same.”

Before advances in technology empowered us to make fairer, better, more data-driven hiring decisions, phone screens allowed managers and job candidates to gauge whether or not they would be a good fit for each other. But today, with so many better tools right at our fingertips, phone screens no longer serve the purpose they did before.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the flaws of phone screens, as well as into some new tools that deliver quality candidates while mitigating bias and revving up ROI.

1. Prone to Bias

Experts predict unconscious biases can drive up to 99% of our behaviors when left unchecked, and nowhere are unconscious biases more prevalent than in a conversation between two strangers.

We usually think of biases toward race, religion, language, and background first. However, oftentimes even benign, more practical factors can play a part. 

For instance, consider how time of day might impact a manager’s opinion of a candidate. On one occasion, a manager facilitates an interview first thing in the morning, immediately following their second cup of coffee. Both individuals are fresh, alert, and focused. Now, picture that same manager’s ability to facilitate an interview later in the day, when the interview is wedged between back-to-back meetings over a nearly-missed lunch.

Which candidate might the manager (unconsciously) prefer?

2. A Scheduling Nightmare

“On-demand interviewing wipes out weeks of scheduling, and gets you top talent faster.” — Larry McAlister, Vice President of Global Talent at NetApp

If your organization has 15 candidates interviewing for the same role, and manager phone screens take approximately 30 minutes each, that’s one hiring manager’s entire workday dedicated solely to phone screens.

Additionally, with the rising needs and preferences for increased flexibility, combined with higher numbers of employees working across time zones, finding a good time for two people can take weeks. Let’s take a look at a tech company that decided to replace phone screens with HireVue technology instead. 

Before HireVue, Blackbaud reported that the simple acts of scheduling and completing a phone screen took up to two weeks. Even worse, they found that most of the time, it was obvious the candidate wasn’t a good fit at the time the second phone screen began. What does that mean? The first phone screen had been a huge waste of time. 

Blackbaud decided to invest in on-demand interviews instead; and in doing so, reduced the average time-to-fill across all departments by 15%, from 70 days down to only 59.

3. Siloed

To make less biased, higher quality hiring decisions, it’s best if each qualified candidate is considered by multiple hiring managers. Phone screens, however, do not lend themselves to that process.

HireVue technology allows video interviews and recruiters’ previously recorded notes to be shared between colleagues, other departments, and supervisors. Notes can be further recorded by those the interview is shared with. In turn, the candidate can be evaluated based on the opinions of multiple employees, in multiple roles, AND multiple departments. 

4. Incomplete

“Everyone ends up looking the same after a phone screen; with an on-demand interview, not only does it save time, the information is so much richer. You’re getting the full story.”— Marci Sigmund, Head of Talent Acquisition for North America at Sykes

In practice, manager phone screens are often simply a verbal summarization of a candidate’s resume. And unfortunately, neither is able to predict job success. When many candidates have attended the same skills, earned the same degrees, and have similar work experiences, how do you uncover which one(s) actually have the skills you’re looking for?

Skills-based assessments help hiring teams gauge candidates' hard and soft skills early in the hiring process, using them to narrow the candidate pool quickly and objectively. Traditional pre-hire assessments were often long and boring; but HireVue’s game-based skills assessments deliver the same results, all while creating an excellent candidate experience.

5. Highly Subjective

Carrying on a pleasant, organic conversation with a potential employee is good and necessary... at the end of the hiring process, not the beginning. Because in addition to enabling bias, phone screens don’t promote quality hiring decisions, either.

Traditional phone screens, unfortunately, simply don’t deliver the information necessary to make an objective decision based on talent and skills. They simply reveal whether or not a candidate is good at talking on the phone.

Instead of phone screens, try game-based assessments instead. Game-based assessments are a great tool for assessing both cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence. These games engage candidates, can be completed when and where the candidate is, assesses different abilities and candidate types through psychometric data, and most importantly, provide recruiters with an easy, scalable tool to remove subjectivity. 

6. Unstructured

Even when the interviewer relies on a carefully-designed template, in practice, it’s all too easy to veer off course into an off-script, free-flowing conversation. Again, organic conversations serve as a very positive part of a final interview; but as part of an initial phone screen, less structure leads to more bias, and lower quality decisions. The interview process should only become more personalized, fluid, and less data-driven during the final rounds. 

With HireVue OnDemand interviews, each candidate is asked the same questions, given the same amount of time to answer, and evaluated based on exactly the same criteria. The end result? Each and every candidate receives a fair, high-quality, consistent interview experience.

It’s time to ditch manager phone screens for a more fair, innovative process: a combination of on-demand interviews, live interviews, and game-based assessments. Replacing phone screens saves time, provides consistent structure, minimizes bias, improves candidate experience, and allows employees from a multitude of departments to provide feedback on culture and job role fit. Explore HireVue technology now

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