Most employers select a few top contenders for consideration after a lengthy series of interviews. Of course, face-to-face interviews are important, but you can save a lot of time-and make better hiring decisions-by asking applicants a few pointed questions in phone interviews before you schedule any sit-down interviews.

Here are five suggestions for phone interviews:

  1. What makes you want to leave your current position and apply for this position?
  2. Tell us what you know about our company.
  3. Tell me the direction you want your career to take you.
  4. How can this position help you follow your mentioned career direction?
  5. What’s the key function about this position that interests you most and why?

There’s not necessarily one correct answer to each question. However, impromptu phone interviews can provide a quick read on an applicant’s commitment and energy level. Phone interviews can also reveal how a person makes decisions and communicates about themselves, and your company.

Over the course of phone interviews, you may discover un-fit candidates and decide to skip the sit-down interview, saving you additional hassle and time.

Once you interview someone face-to-face there’s no excuse for job applicants not to know key facts about your company when they come in for an interview. After all, with the Internet, they can do more research than ever before by reading news clips about your firm and studying your own website.

And yet, many job seekers still come to interviews unprepared. One of the best questions you can ask applicants is: “Since we last talked, what else have you learned about our company and where did you see this information?”

People who can describe your mission, products, services and competitors deserve special consideration because they show they’re conscientious and attentive to detail. In addition, learning about the resources or tools they use to learn new or additional information is a substantial trait to be observed.