The position I'm hiring for is an entry-level job, doing administrative work that isn't the most glamorous but which requires a high level of attention to detail and organization. It doesn't require related experience, although that's helpful; more important are "soft skills" like meticulousness and work ethic.
1. The first guy doesn't seem to know what the job entails, despite the job description being easily accessible online. (These were scheduled phone interviews, so he had time to prepare -- just didn't.) He's a "no."
2. The second candidate is promising, but when I tell him how quickly we're moving to fill the position, he mentions that he is in the running for other positions and not sure how fast they're moving (and this is a low-paying, entry-level job, so it's unsurprising that he'd prefer something else if he can get it). I explain that the reason we're moving so quickly is that we want someone hired while the previous person who filled the position is still there, so she can train the new person. If we hire him and then he takes a better offer a few weeks later, we'd be stuck without the predecessor around to train the next person. He's honest enough to say he'd be worried that would happen, and we agree that he'll withdraw his candidacy for this job but that I'll contact him in the future if I have something that might be a better fit. And I will -- he showed integrity by being honest and looking out for our welfare, not just his own.
3. This candidate is promising. Clear, to-the-point answers, able to describe in a compelling and intelligent way why this admittedly unglamorous job appeals to her, and talks about other detail-oriented work that she's done well at.
Also, one thing that's notable about interviewing for entry-level jobs is how few candidates have any questions of their own to ask. This doesn't surprise me too much -- knowing what questions you should ask often comes from experience in the workplace, and most of these candidates don't have a ton of workplace experience. But when someone does have good questions (meaning not just "what are the hours?"), it stands out. This candidate asks insightful questions about the work and what we're looking for and generally seems genuinely thoughtful.
I schedule her for an in-person interview.
4. Things start well, but it turns out that she isn't available until about a month after I need someone to start, so we abort the conversation.
5. Candidate #5 impresses me right away with clear, succinct answers about why she's interested in the position and her understanding of what it entails. But when I ask her what kind of feedback she's received at jobs in the past, she tells me that doesn't work well independently and prefers to be part of a group and that she's been told she needs to socialize less on the job. My heart breaks slightly.
6. Candidate #6 is overqualified for the job (has a law degree, among other overqualifications), but he convincingly explains why he wants the job anyway. Often with overqualified candidates, my concern is that they're deluding themselves about what the job really entails, but this guy speaks in clear and accurate terms about the work he'd be doing; there are no blinders on there, and he addresses my concerns head-on. I'm moving him on to an interview.
7. Candidate #7 has a decent amount of relevant experience, but his phone manner is casual to the point of being unprofessional, which alarms me. This is an entry-level job so it's not automatically prohibitive, as it would be with a higher level job, but it's a big enough strike against him that he'll be a back-up candidate, only interviewed if none of the other candidates work out.
So there you have it -- seven phone interviews. Anything surprising here, or is this pretty much what anyone would figure it would be like?