I’ve been on both ends of the phone — both looking for jobs and for employees. No matter which side of the conversation you’re on, though, the telephone interview leaves something to be desired. It takes time to do multiple interviews, it’s impossible to set a time that works well for both parties and — if you’re the interviewer — you’re mind rapidly goes numb from asking the same questions over and over again.

There’s a new website that’s looking to simplify the telephone interview process: VoiceScreener. The concept is surprisingly simple: hiring managers can record their interview questions, and potentials employees record their answers at their leisure. While there are few more steps in practice, the simplicity of the idea appeals to me. As a potential employee, I like it because I won’t have to try to figure out a time for an interview that requires me to leave the office — even if I’m only going out to my car to talk on my phone.

But I like it from the hiring point of view, as well. As anyone who has ever conducted interviews — even for a babysitter — knows, there’s always a candidate or two that you realize isn’t right almost immediately. But once you’ve started an interview, whether over the phone or in person, it’s impossible to stop the interview part way through without seeming a bit rude. With a tool like VoiceScreener, it takes just one click to move on to better candidates. Overall, the VoiceScreener team estimates that their application can reduce the amount of time necessary for telephone screening by up to 70 percent.

The Features

With VoiceScreener, a hiring manager can invite any job candidate to respond to a set of interview questions through email. Candidates then enter their telephone numbers at the VoiceScreener website, which calls them immediately with the interview questions. Once the interview is complete, VoiceScreener sends a notification to the hiring manager. The hiring manager can listen to the responses at any time, ranking candidates and inviting other team members to review interviews as necessary. VoiceScreener can then generate an automatic report listing candidates in order of preference. VoiceScreener has a few other useful tools, as well: for instance, a hiring manager can have candidates answer a set of pre-qualifying questions before and interview, screening out candidates before they even record answers. It’s possible to use questions from past interviews when creating a new interview and a hiring manager can even create a customized rejection message and automatically email any candidate who didn’t quite make the cut.

The VoiceScreener team has made use of a lot of social networking ideas to reduce the amount of time and money it takes for a company to hire new personnel, allowing for a very fast first round of interviews. In addition to streamlining the process of comparing notes about a particular interview, the application has a simple dashboard that allows users to easily complete tasks associated with the hiring process. The dashboard offers several tools, some of which are customized to recruiters using VoiceScreener for their clients or for small businesses hiring on their own. The application can be customized for an individual business: interviewers can create a landing page for an interview, deciding whether to include a company logo, a URL or other information on the page that candidates will see. VoiceScreener can even be integrated into online job boards, making it a useful tool no matter how large a net a hiring manager wants to cast.

The Future

I see a lot of potential with VoiceScreener for handling other interview-heavy processes in the future. Collecting interviews for a research project, whether commercial or academic, could be done through this tool as well, allowing researchers to quickly conduct hundreds of interviews. As it stands, I think that VoiceScreener is an ideal tool for small businesses looking to hire new staff but not up to taking time away from their day-to-day concerns. It doesn’t even take a particularly technical person to set up interview questions with VoiceScreener — instead, it’s a matter of a few clicks. I wouldn’t necessarily expect someone who’s been running a human resources department for decades to embrace VoiceScreener, but I’m willing to bet that it could be a reliable tool for a hiring manager. The fact that VoiceScreener is especially simple for interview subjects — as long as an interview subject can type in his or her phone number and knows how to leave a voice mail, using VoiceScreener shouldn’t be a problem — is an impressive benefit for hiring managers used to struggling through a stack of resumes for individual interviews.

VoiceScreener was created by harQen, a web-telephony company that creates business applications. The private beta launched yesterday morning and VoiceScreener is expected to launch publicly in January. VoiceScreener will, after its public launch, charge a monthly platform fee along with a per interview charge. There will also be a fee for archiving interviews.

The Giveaway

The folks at VoiceScreener have given us 50 beta invites to give away to LifeHack readers. If you visit the VoiceScreener sign up page and fill out the form, you’ll notice a field for a ‘Promo Code.’ The first 50 people to use the code LIFEHACK will get in on the beta. The beta includes 50 call credits and six weeks of platform usage. If you get in to the beta, let us know what you think!

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