What is the purpose of a phone screen?
“A phone screen is generally perceived as an effort to gauge the qualifications and interest of a candidate. However, I see it as more than that, especially when representing a client. A phone screen is an opportunity to make an indelible mark on someone we might hire, someone who might refer a candidate, someone who might consume the products or services of our client and someone who may rave about the recruitment experience so much that their testimonial on social media serves as a recruiting vehicle in and of itself.”
Additionally, in a recent blog post titled The Best Phone Screen Interview Questions, Robert Half similarly highlights the importance of phone screens saying, “a candidate’s answers to key phone screening interview questions can allow you to speedily identify the most promising candidates.” The post goes on to share a list of questions aimed at uncovering a candidate’s work style, soft skills, technical skills and expectations for the position.
When it comes down to it, recruiters use phone screens to achieve three things:
- Present information about the job to the candidate
- Capture information about the candidate
- Be empathetic and engaging for the candidate
These three outputs are vital, allowing recruiters to make informed decisions on whether to move candidates forward or not. Monster and G2V Careers reports that recruiters spend 78,352 minutes on the phone per year or roughly 63% of a 40-hour work week.
This got us thinking…
What if we could achieve the outcome of a phone screen without actually having a phone screen?
When we began testing our AI chatbot for recruiters, Wendy, we asked ourselves:
- Would this save recruiters hours of time each week?
- Would this be an engaging and empathetic experience for candidates?
- Would this capture the necessary information to further decision-making capabilities?
Our hypothesis was “yes,” we can replicate the outcome of a phone screen without actually conducting a phone screen. In our early beta stage, Wendy has begun validating this hypothesis. She pre-screens applicants via chat (think: text, Facebook messenger or web) and then delivers the transcript (as well as her recommendations) to recruiters. Here’s what we’re seeing so far:
1. Better Candidate Experience
Recruiters have a lot on their plate, especially when over half their week is spent on phone calls. As a result, many phone screens are rushed and distracted, leaving candidates feeling unheard. Wendy, on the other hand, is patient. She doesn’t have the same time restraints as humans and can chat with candidates whenever and for as long as they wish. For corporate positions, candidates are spending around 31 minutes chatting with Wendy, while candidates for more blue collar positions are engaging for 7 to 11 minutes.
2. Better Notes & More Complete Candidate Profiles
Following a chat with an applicant, Wendy shares the transcript directly with recruiters. As a result, recruiters are learning information about applicants outside their cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile — without having to take notes or conduct any research.
With the Wendy chat transcript, recruiters have a robust profile on every applicant before they ever reach out. The information is detailed and presented uniformly, so if hiring for a position is put on hold and resumed months later, there’s no knowledge gap or need to re-assess the applicant for fit. With Wendy, candidate fit is no longer determined by the note-taking skills of the recruiter. Regardless of how detailed their notes are, at some point, a recruiter will be under the weather and forget to capture an important point or their computer will crash, capturing nothing at all. Wendy removes the subjectivity of recruiters’ notes and the effect they have on a candidate’s standing.
3. More Intelligent & Knowledgeable Conversations
Wendy allows recruiters to pre-qualify ahead of scheduling a phone interview. This means two things: (1) recruiters are taking less phone calls and (2) the phone calls they do take are more informed. With more information about an applicant available to them, the initial conversation flows better and is more relevant.
In some cases, recruiters have moved candidates straight to the in-person interview after reviewing the Wendy chat transcript. We expect this to happen more and more as Wendy’s knowledge base and understanding of various roles and domains grows.
When you think back to the best interviews you’ve had (whether as an interviewee or interviewer), it usually has something to do with the quality of conversation. People remember really great conversations. Our goal with Wendy is to allow better flowing and informed conversations to occur. By automating the outcome of the pre-screen process, recruiters can focus on listening and candidates can focus on sharing their story.
About the Author:
Bailey Newlan is the Content & Growth Marketer at Wade & Wendy, a New York City-based startup on a mission to make hiring more human. Wade & Wendy is a conversational engagement platform for recruitment automation. To connect, reach out to Bailey via LinkedIn, Twitter or Medium.
P.S. If you went down on SourceCon, give Bailey a shout at email@example.com