Joel Spolsky at Joel on Software visits the essentials of phone screen. He talks about the importance of having a phone screen before a full in-person interview can save you a lot of time, because candidates who good on paper does not mean they are good at what they do. In phone screen for developers, Joel focuses in technology and politics, and then drill into a technical problem:
Politics. Behind the boring list of past employers on the resume, there’s always a story. What I’m looking for is the story of how the candidate handled challenges in the past. I’m looking for people that got things done, even in the face of opposition. I’m looking for people who challenged the status quo, who overcame objections, and who made things happen. So when the resume says, “drove the adoption of .NET,” I want to hear what drove means. In detail. When the resume says that they “founded a company,” I want to hear everything. Whose idea was is? Who convinced whom? Who did what? Did it work out? Why not?
The Phone Screen – [Joel on Software]