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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 October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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