I have to say I've been pretty pleased with my interviewing skills, but I've noticed that the higher the job is in the company, the higher your time on the phone with the candidate should be.
Some jobs will have you actually flying around the country in a jet to visit them, and I was always amazed at how well I did at the interviews that required that level of travel.
Of course, you won't be flying around the country unless the job pays the big bucks.
As long as you're making a decent wage in most industries, any level of travel is a reasonable expectation.
Where I've been employed, if the company flew you to another city, they usually provided transportation for you.
It was all part of the job.
But, if you're talking about jobs that are based close to your home, then you'll want to do everything you can to make the phone interview run as smoothly as possible.
Read up on the company, know the current state of the project, the current projects of the senior people at the company, the sort of backgrounds the senior people have.
There are ways to do this that don't take a huge amount of time, but I have found that by the time I'm done doing that, the interview should go quite smoothly.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but not everyone does it.
You'll be tired at this point, but don't let that slow you down.
If you're not the most aggressive interviewer on the planet, a quick "Well, what about...." won't be adequate.
You'll have to dig into the details.
Let the candidate do the same.
At least have your questions ready to go.
The company wants to know that you've done your research and you can hold your own in the meeting.
They want to know that you're knowledgeable about the work that you will be doing if you get the job.
If you're not the guy in the running, please don't be obnoxious, but if they do hire you, you want them to think that they made a good choice, not a stupid one.
If the other candidates on the phone don't ask a question, that's ok.
You don't have to fill up the time.
The fact that they didn't ask is a good sign.
Just get to the point quickly when you're on the line.
If you didn't know a lot about a certain area of expertise that is critical to the success of the job, tell them.
What you don't want to do is to criticize the applicant for something that they did well on.
The ideal is to be helpful, not critical.
Don't trash the applicant.
If you don't know an answer, say so.
If you do know an answer but aren't sure how to word it, be honest and say so.
If you're afraid to be honest because the applicant might not like the truth, that's ok.
Tell them what you're thinking.
Don't pull punches.
If you do pull punches, that's fine.
Just be honest about it.
Make them feel that they have a partner.
Just don't say "Well, that's just what I was thinking.
Why don't you think about that for a minute "so they feel as if they are being put on the spot?
If they are nervous, don't pile on with questions.
Keep the interview on track.
If they start talking about how they would deal with this or that, be quiet.
Instead, be quiet and let them talk.
If you sense that the person is becoming uncomfortable, let them know that you are aware that they may not have done the research in the area you are interviewing them in, but you have a question about something else.
Let the person talk a little longer and then ask the question.
That way, they don't feel as if you're pouncing on them.
It won't be a good interview if they call you at 1: 30 and tell you that you got the job.
It will be a lot better if you get a phone call that says "We wanted to let you know that the final interviews are happening and the candidate that gets the job is one of the top candidates".
That's the type of call you want to make.
Don't try to second guess it.
If the finalist doesn't get it, they'll call you.
Don't panic or call the candidate.
It will be ok if you don't get the job.
Don't be presumptuous in the call.
You may never get a second chance to get the job and you may need the job badly.
Make sure that you take the job and don't beat a retreat.