Are Phone Interviews a Good Strategy for Narrowing the Candidate Pool?

If you are a hiring manager, you have probably faced this situation before – you send out a call for resumes and suddenly hundreds come pouring into your office. There are lots of candidates that seem qualified, but you don’t have the time or resources to interview 50 people on site. You start to look for an efficient and effective way to thin out the candidate pool and bridge the gap between the resume and interview stage.

At this point, many hiring managers decide to conduct phone interviews. There are lots of differing opinions about whether phone interviews are a useful tool. Some people swear by them while others refuse to consider them as an option. We have put together this list of pros and cons to help you make more informed choices regarding your recruitment process.


  • Geography – If you are interviewing candidates from all over the country or world, a phone interview allows you to connect without making an inconvenient request for travel.
  • Expense – Phone interviews take time, but otherwise they are a cost effective strategy. You don’t even have to make extra coffee.
  • Competency – Some things you can’t gauge over the phone, but the medium is effective for gauging competency.
  • Objectivity – Sometimes the disconnect of talking on the phone can help you assess a candidate more honestly because it removes largely meaningless distractions like their clothing or their hairstyle.
  • Effectiveness – If someone can’t impress you over the phone, it is unlikely that they will impress you in person. You can confidently weed them out of the candidate pool.


  • Length – A phone interview adds another step to the recruitment process. If you are crunched for time, this could draw out the process unnecessarily.
  • Bias – Phone interviews are revealing, but shallow by definition. There is the very real risk that a great candidate could get weeded out for the wrong reasons, a language barrier for instance.
  • Impersonal – More and more, companies are looking for candidates that fit into the company culture. When you can only rely on a voice to gauge someone’s personality, it’s difficult to get an accurate portrait.
  • Technical Problems – If a signal is choppy or a phone line goes dead, it just creates hassles for both parties, and could unfairly affect your decision.
  • Identity – It’s easy to misrepresent yourself over the phone. You might schedule a full day of face-to-face interviews and find that all the candidates you’ve selected are unfit for one reason or another.

It’s up to you whether or not you rely on phone interviews. Just make sure your approach the process in a thoughtful and systematic way, and you will avoid common pitfalls while maximizing the potential for the candidate pool you create. For more resources on effective recruiting, partner with the staffing experts at Selectek.