Help me phone screen interview candidates more effectively?
January 21, 2012 4:24 PM Subscribe
Help me do a better job of phone screening candidates for largely-technical/programming positions.
I've been with my company for 6 years now. I'm a senior manager (worked up from intern). Of all the people on my team/in my office, I've been with the company only shorter than my boss, and on my team longer than anyone. I'm not in HR, just another middle-management guy. Our office/team is a satellite to the main office.
In addition to my regular work, because of my expereience and position on the team, I'm often asked to do phone screens of potential interview candidates. The phone screen is my idea, because we were getting a large number of interview candidates who looked great on paper, but when we got them in (for an afternoon of interviews & tests) they would fall flat on their face at the first sign of technical questions. Seriously, I had a guy write a cascading delete in SQL (two tables, foreign key ref) with a WHILE loop ffs.
So I'm looking at these resumes and have 30 minutes on the phone to do three things:
1. give a 5 minute elevator speech about the company
2. ask them questions about the resume
3. answer questions they have
with #2 - please help me come up with better questions or a better way to gauge someone's technical competency in SQL and/or C# over the phone.
Normally what I do is pick a couple projects or items on their resume and ask them to describe in detail. I explain that I've got a technical background, and they should not shy away from details - if it goes over my head I'll say so. And yet I rarely get anyone who provides *any* details. Like, if I was asked that over the phone I think I'd dive right into my close rate engine in SQL, or the internet lead processing workflow in C#. And I'd be all up in their face with algorithms implemented, APIs used, syntax for specific sections I'm proud of, etc. Hell, I feel like I could talk about technical stuff to someone asking about it for hours. How can I get people (who know these things) to respond like it that on the phone?
The problem is that because I'm not getting a really good gauge that I want, I'm still approving most of the candidates for the in-person interviews (and C# and SQL tests). And they'll fall flat on their face.
Long way of saying: what technical questions can you ask over the phone and get good responses for? Or how can I get a good gauge of technical skills with a 15 minute phone conversation and a resume?