Conducting Phone Screen Interview

Right Seat on the Bus Blog by EPOCH Sales Management Solutions

Conducting Phone Screen Interview

A good interview process, coupled with good online assessments are the best ways to uncover how well your candidates meet your key  criteria.  We recommend that the hiring managers do three interviews of each candidate. The initial interview is a 25-30 minute phone screen. One reason a phone screen is important is that the “proactive phone call” remains the best sales weapon we have.

Phone Screen Interview

Let’s walk through the process first and at the end we will share our secret on how to get to know more about who the candidate really is.

During the phone screen, let’s focus in four areas:

  • What are they like on the phone?
  • Do they seek opportunities for achievement?
  • Do they fit the role?
  • How curious are they?

Other areas to pay attention to are:

  • How do they plan their day?
  • How much time do they truly spend looking for new opportunities?
  • How are they in the resilience and grit department?
  • Do they have a consultative selling approach? If not, what is their approach?
  • What is their work ethic?

What  potential red flags do you see?

What are they like on the phone?

Pay attention to how they sound on the phone. 

  • Do they sound like a person that scores high in self-worth? Confident, with a touch of humility? 
    • Arrogant, aggressive, cocky individuals are not what we are looking for though.
  • Did they develop rapport?
  • What is their energy level?

phone interview

Do they seek opportunities for Achievement?

We want to hear about achievements when they answer these questions.

  • I would like you to take a minute or two and summarize your sales experience in your own words for me.
  • What do you like most about sales?
  • What motivates you? Why? Can you give me an example? 
  • Why are you looking?

Do they fit the role?

We want hunters for hunter roles. Hunters are the toughest to find.  Try to understand what hunter means to them when asking the question below. If they are a hunter, why do they like it?   You might want to go negative on them such as: “Come on, NO ONE really likes to prospect, do they?” See how genuine their response is.

  • When you hear the term hunter salesperson or farmer salesperson, what do those terms mean to you?   Which one is more you? 

As you near the end…

If you don’t think you should move forward: Simply say something like, “I’m not feeling the fit here.”  If they don’t fight with you on this. Move on. If they fight? “Fight” with them and decide if there may be more there than you thought.

If you are moving forward: Give them their homework for the next session. “Prep for Cold Call Opening and Sales Call Opening” any one of your products or services. Advise them they will do one of the two in the next interview.

Note: Be looking for coaching opportunities. You want to be able to see how coachable they are. 

fit the role

One of our secrets on getting to know who this candidate really is.

In sales, how do we discover what the prospect really needs and wants?  The art of probing is key in our sales discovery process.  Simple probing questions, combined with the Pain Funnel explained in this HubSpot Post is one of the best ways to uncover needs and wants in the discovery process of a sales call.  Use the same principles here. We have a list of questions that we use for our phone screens, which you can obtain here, but the magic is in the probing process.

Let them give their prepared answer and then simply follow-up with a probe such as:

Can you tell me more?

Can you be more specific?

Can you give me an example?

Don’t be afraid to dig deeper on some questions to better understand:

Why did they do it that way?

Ask for more details on how they did something?

Find out who was involved.  What part did they do alone and where did they get help?

Again, on the phone screen, I am focused on four things:

  1. How do they sound on the phone? How is their self-worth?
  2. Are they achievement oriented?
  3. Do they fit the role? Real sales hunters are not common.
  4. Are they very curious?

We want curious, hungry, growable salespeople that believe in themselves and fit the role.


Would you like someone to guide you in this process? 

Schedule a 30-minute conversation here.

Want to Find More Qualified Sales Candidates?

Click here  to enroll in our free August 30, 2022 webinar  with a panel of 3 recruiting experts

Download our guide to help you Put the Right Salesperson on Your Team in the Right Sales Role

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Would you like someone to guide you in this process to get ready to hire? 

Schedule a 30-minute conversation here.


September 12th, 2022|Categories: | | |

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