“You waste a lot of time in a face-to-face interview,” says Grant Mazmanian, president at Pinnacle Group International and a business consultant to construction companies, who created this pre-interview phone script for his clients. If they follow the script, which can take just 10 minutes, it gives them a better sense of whether they should ask a job candidate in for an interview.

Without the script, Mazmanian says that, in a face-to-face interview, the owner’s enthusiasm can be catchy. Candidates may start to look like a better fit than they are.

Interviewers should ask behavioral questions like those in this script to find out how candidates would handle situations they might face in the position.

“This script is nothing more than a due diligence process” Mazmanian says, adding that even those job seekers who have “failed” the process “recognize the company’s professionalism and will send other job seekers your way.”

A: Hello My Name Is ...

Start the call by establishing who you are and the purpose of the call. Tell the candidate that you might be working off a script, how long the call will likely take, and that if he or she doesn’t feel comfortable answering a question, that’s all right. “People judge the quality of the company by the intake process,” consultant Grant Mazmanian says. “Good people are evaluating the company more than the company might be evaluating them.”

B: Here’s the Situation

You need to know the duties and responsibilities of the job you’re looking to fill so you can ask appropriate behavioral and situational questions. If you require someone to wear multiple hats and be a team player, you might ask the candidate to tell you about a time in a past job when they had to go out of their way to help people on their team. Listen closely to their answer.

C: The Value of Why

You need to find out what upsets the candidate. Mazmanian gives this example: An admin candidate might say, “The worst customer is one who screams.” You then need to find out why. “They make me feel like an idiot,” might be the response. Admin staff have low tolerance for people who yell at them. If your niche is clients with high disposable income, many of them are likely to be assertive types who start yelling when something goes wrong.” A candidate who is easily upset will not be the right person for that job.

D: Bow Out Gracefully

After six or seven questions you can generally tell whether the candidate is right for the job. Once you recognize that, even if it’s only after three minutes, you can say, “We’ve got enough and we’re wrapping up.” Tell them when you’ll be making a decision and when you’ll contact them: “You’ll be hearing from us by noon tomorrow if we’re going to move on in the process.” People will understand that if they’re not selected you will not be calling them.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING. twitter.com/SFreed

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