Efficiently Schedule an Interview: Guide to Phone Screening

During this unprecedented time, we have witnessed an increase in both new virtual recruiting methods, including virtual career fairs, and the old but gold screening step called phone interviews. As simple as it may sound, phone interviewing is one of the first important touch points between candidates and your company, and it can be optimized. Here are our checklist and tips for nailing scheduling phone screenings and creating a positive candidate experience.

When do Interviewers Conduct Phone Screenings?

Phone screening is a traditional yet effective screening method used by hiring teams in the early stage of the recruitment process. During this step, recruiters spend around 20-30 minutes talking with applicants and checking their qualifications, minimum requirements, and personal motivation or interests. It is to ensure that you invite the most suitable ones, the brightest talents to the next round and eliminate pointless interviews. Phone interviewing especially becomes handy when recruiters receive and have to process a large number of seemingly qualified applications or hiring teams have limited time to interview applicants.

recruiters conducting phone screenings

The Benefits of Phone Screenings

  • Enhanced Flexibility for Candidates: Most candidates will appreciate the flexibility provided by phone interviews. This format allows them to participate from the comfort of their own space, reducing the stress associated with in-person interviews. This convenience is especially beneficial for candidates with busy schedules or those located in different time zones, ensuring a broader and more diverse talent pool.
  • Global Outreach: Phone interviews can bring recruiters closer to candidates from various geographical locations. Along with video interviews, this flexibility enables companies to tap into a global talent pool without the constraints of physical proximity, promoting diversity in perspectives and experiences.
  • Rapid Initial Screening: Conducting a phone screening as an initial screening method allows recruiters to swiftly evaluate a candidate’s communication skills, job knowledge, and cultural fit. This rapid screening process aids in promptly identifying promising candidates, speeding up the overall recruitment timeline.
  • Resource Optimization: Phone interviews contribute to efficient resource allocation by reducing the need for extensive travel, meeting room bookings, and associated logistical arrangements. This streamlined approach allows organizations to optimize their resources and allocate time and budget to other critical stages of the hiring process.
  • Inclusive Assessment: Phone interviews help create an inclusive assessment environment by focusing solely on the candidate’s qualifications and responses. Removing visual cues and physical appearances from the initial assessment phase fosters an unbiased evaluation, promoting fair consideration based on skills, experience, and potential.
  • Improved Candidate Experience: Candidates often find phone interviews less intimidating than face-to-face interactions, contributing to a positive candidate experience. This positive impression early in the hiring process can enhance the employer brand, making the company more attractive to top-tier candidates.
  • Effective Time Management for Recruiters: Recruiters can efficiently manage their time by conducting phone interviews with planned question lists and scripts, enabling them to screen a larger number of candidates within a shorter timeframe. This time-saving aspect allows recruiters to focus on developing relationships with shortlisted candidates and dedicating more time to strategic aspects of the recruitment process.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Adopting phone interviews aligns with environmentally conscious practices by reducing the carbon footprint associated with frequent travel for both recruiters and candidates. This eco-friendly approach aligns with corporate social responsibility goals and showcases a commitment to sustainable recruitment practices.

5-Step Guide to Efficiently Schedule Phone Interviews for Recruiters


Due to its simplicity, phone screenings and the act of scheduling these events are often overlooked. Chances are you may miss opportunities to optimize this simple screening method, but no worries, we are here to help with a five-step checklist to schedule an interview.

  1. Understand Candidate Availability: Begin by gaining a clear understanding of the candidate’s availability. Utilize a concise and friendly email to request their preferred time slots for a phone interview. Consider providing a few options to accommodate various schedules. This step lays the foundation for a positive candidate experience and sets the stage for a collaborative interaction. Tip: Clearly communicate the expected duration of the phone interview to manage candidate expectations.
  2. Leverage Scheduling Tools: Embrace technology to simplify the scheduling process. Leverage scheduling tools such as Google Calendar, Calendly, or Microsoft Outlook to coordinate interview timings seamlessly. These tools often allow candidates to choose from pre-approved time slots, eliminating back-and-forth communication and expediting the scheduling process. Tip: Ensure the scheduling tool integrates seamlessly with your preferred communication channels.
  3. Offer Flexibility and Accessibility: Flexibility is key to efficient scheduling. Demonstrate your commitment to accommodating candidates by offering alternative time slots or suggesting options for rescheduling if needed. Additionally, provide accessibility options, such as virtual or phone interviews, to cater to diverse preferences and circumstances. Tip: Clearly communicate the process for rescheduling and any necessary preparations for the interview.
  4. Confirm Details Promptly: Once the interview time is agreed upon, promptly send a confirmation email to the candidate. Include essential details such as the date, time, and platform or phone number for the interview. Confirm the time zone to avoid any misunderstandings. This step ensures that both parties are well-prepared and reduces the likelihood of scheduling conflicts. Follow this checklist to make sure your email includes all key information critical to the interview:
    • Opening GreetingExpress EnthusiasmConfirmation DetailsInterview FormatTime Zone ClarificationExpected DurationInterviewer InformationPreparation GuidelinesRequest for ConfirmationContact InformationClosing MessageAttachment (if applicable)
    Tip: Encourage candidates to reach out promptly if any issues arise, promoting open communication.
  5. Integrate Interview Logistics: Integrate interview logistics seamlessly into your recruitment workflow. Ensure that the candidate’s information, including their availability and interview preferences, is seamlessly transferred to relevant team members. Establish a standardized process for interview scheduling to enhance consistency and efficiency across different recruitment phases.

Tip: Invest in ATS or Interview Management for a Productive and Hassle-Free Experience We have had several posts on utilizing modern tools such as Applicant Tracking Systems or Interview Management for scheduling phone interviews. A key benefit of using these tools is enhancing the candidate experience by shortening the assessment and interview scheduling process. Shorter waiting time, happier candidates.

By following this 5-step guide, recruiters can not only enhance the efficiency of their phone screening scheduling process but also contribute to an overall positive candidate experience.

A Comprehensive Guide on Timing Your Phone Interviews


Choosing the right time to schedule normal interviews or a phone screening can significantly impact the experience for both recruiters and candidates. This guide explores essential factors to consider when scheduling phone interviews, along with practical tips to ensure optimal timing.

Candidate’s Availability:

  • Scheduling Flexibility: Prioritize the candidate’s availability by discussing preferred interview times. Flexibility demonstrates consideration for their schedule and enhances the overall candidate experience.
  • Time Zone Consideration: If the candidate resides in a different time zone, propose interview slots accommodating both parties. This helps avoid inconveniences and ensures a fair scheduling process. Interview Scheduling tools like Rakuna’s Interview Scheduling Solution can simplify this process by recommending multiple potential time slots based on your integrated digital calendar for the candidate to self-schedule. Want to see Rakuna in action? Book a FREE demo today!

Recruiter’s Energy and Focus:

Peak Productivity Hours: Schedule interviews & phone screenings when recruiters are most alert and focused. Mornings are often ideal for peak productivity, providing a fresh mindset. Avoid known energy slumps for a more effective assessment.

Company Culture and Norms:

Standard Business Hours: Align interview schedules with standard business hours to maintain a professional atmosphere. Adhering to traditional work settings contributes to a sense of normalcy and routine.

Flexible Work Arrangements: If your company embraces flexible hours, be open to accommodating candidates who prefer non-traditional interview times. This reflects a modern and inclusive approach to work.

Avoiding Key Distractions:

Lunch Hours: Steer clear of typical lunch hours to prevent distractions and interruptions. An interview conducted on an empty stomach may lack focus.

Pre & Post Holiday:

  • Pre-Holiday Scheduling: Be mindful of upcoming holidays when scheduling interviews. Candidates may be preoccupied or unavailable during holiday preparations.
  • Post-Holiday Reconnect: Following holidays, allow candidates and recruiters time to readjust. Consider scheduling interviews in the latter part of the week to ease back into work routines.

Preparation Time:

Pre-Interview Preparation: Allow sufficient time for both recruiters and candidates to prepare adequately. Avoid last-minute scheduling to ensure a thoughtful and well-prepared interaction.

Common FAQ 

  • What factors should be considered when arranging an interview? When scheduling a phone interview, consider both your availability and the candidate’s. Also, take into account time zone differences, the candidate’s current employment status, and any important deadlines.
  • How can I communicate my availability for a potential interview? Clearly express your availability by providing specific dates and times when you’re free for the interview. Be flexible and open to accommodate the candidate’s schedule as much as possible.
  • What is an appropriate way to arrange an interview time? Once you’ve identified potential time slots, reach out to the candidate via email or phone call to propose these options. Be courteous and respectful in your communication, allowing the candidate to choose a time that works best for them.
  • What strategies can be used to reduce the volume of emails exchanged during interview scheduling? Utilize scheduling software like Rakuna’s Interview Scheduling, which allows candidates to self-schedule interviews based on their (and your) availability. This minimizes back-and-forth communication and simplifies the scheduling process for both parties.
  • What criteria should be considered when choosing an interview scheduling software tool? Look for software that integrates seamlessly with your existing systems, offers customizable scheduling options, provides automatic reminders, and ensures data security and privacy.
  • What defines a self-scheduled interview? A self-scheduled interview is one where candidates are given access to your calendar availability and can independently choose a time slot for their interview without direct coordination with the recruiter.
  • What advantages come with allowing candidates to schedule their own interviews? Allowing candidates to self-schedule interviews empowers them to choose a time that suits their schedule, leading to higher engagement and reducing the likelihood of scheduling conflicts.

Wrapping Up

Though often overlooked due to its simplicity, phone interviewing is a helpful screening method for HR professionals. While other screening methods and advanced tools are rising as we are moving to a digitalized world, optimizing each step in your recruitment process, including traditional ones such as scheduling phone interviews, can lead to improved results.