Recruiting Tools: Is Phone Screening Going the Way of the Dinosaur?

How much can you learn about a job candidate by quizzing her over the phone? Some hiring and staffing managers would say not much. While phone screening may be a tried-and-true technique for sizing up job applicants and recruiting targets, it just isn’t as important as it once was.

The Internet knows everything

Well, almost. It can’t tell you whether a candidate would be a great hire, but sometimes it can tip you off when he isn’t even worth a shot. The information that people put on Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages is a gold mine for hiring and staffing departments that would like to get inside a candidate’s head before conducting an interview.

  • Does the candidate mouth off about his current employer on Twitter? That’s one strike for insubordination.
  • Does his Facebook page make it  seem like he spends his leisure time like John Belushi? Strike two for hangovers that kill productivity.
  • Does his Tumblr roll make him look like a daredevil who doesn’t grasp his own mortality? Strike three for risky behavior that could lead to a worker’s comp claim.

When a recent CareerBuilder survey examined social screening in the employee selection process, it found that 12% of the hiring mangers who were questioned had used information gleaned from social media sites to check out a candidate in advance. Examining a person’s social networking pages can reveal things that a phone call never would, such as how a person spends her leisure time and what her attitude is really like about any number of issues.

Professional headhunters are on the prowl

Searching for good candidates can be a challenge when you have other things on your plate, and that’s why hiring and staffing departments sometimes outsource the screening process to recruiting services.

These headhunters track down optimal recruiting targets, and they spend eight hours a day doing it. Here in the age of outsourcing, in-house screening can cost time and money, and bounty hunters can start to look attractive.

Unless, of course, you own a wickedly effective piece of software like The Resumator. With a suite of organizational features that'll put any lumbering, Baby Huey-like third-party solution to shame, you can do your screening on the fly, all by yourself.

The telephone is the perfect mask

The phone allows you pretend to be whatever you want (and if you don't remember just how true that is, it's time to break out those old Jerky Boys tapes). When you cold call a recruiting target, how can you be sure he isn't lying through his teeth while downloading pirated software and chain-smoking Pall Malls? Look at his Facebook page or Twitter account, on the other hand, and you'll get the real story.

Is it all over?

Although companies still sometimes use phone screening to make value judgments about job applicants and recruiting targets, these days they have other vetting tools at their disposal, and they're leaning on them more and more. Is phone screening on its way out?

Maybe, maybe not.

But we do know that social screening is a viable way to get the same kind of information. What screening methods does your hiring and staffing department find useful? Leave a comment using Facebook and tell us.

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