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VoiceScreener: A New Option For Telephone Interviews

VoiceScreener: A New Option For Telephone Interviews

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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