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Common Phone Interview Questions (and How to Answer)

phone interview questions

Phone interviews are a common first step in the interview process, and nailing one can drastically improve your chances of moving forward in the hiring process. The phone interview questions are a way for you to get to know the company a little better and a way for the company to learn more about you beyond what’s on your resume and cover letter. Most phone interview questions will be a mix of questions aimed at getting to know what type of employee you would be, what hard and soft skills you’re bringing to the table, and what you know about the company.

While phone interviews may feel daunting at first, being prepared and knowing what questions to expect (and how to answer them) can help ease your nerves and set you apart from other candidates. Check out some of the most common phone screen interview questions below.

9 Common Phone Interview Questions

1. Tell Me About Yourself.

Interviewers typically want to start the call by getting to know you a little better, so asking you to talk about yourself is an easy way for them to learn about you and a little about your background.

Phone interviews typically only last 15 to 30 minutes, so having a quick “about me” blurb prepared can help the call stay on track. You can make sure you don’t forget any crucial details by practicing your answer with a friend or having notes with key points to make.

Similar questions include:

  • Describe yourself.
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • How would your former employer describe you?

2. Tell Me About Your Current Job and Relevant Experience.

Once the interviewer has a better idea of who you are, they’ll want to dig into your current position and relevant work experience. This is your opportunity to showcase your experiences and responsibilities that apply to the job. Keep it concise and avoid too much detail about less relevant information. Also, pointing out accomplishments and things you’re proud of can help bolster your responses.

Similar questions include:

  • Describe your current role or position.
  • What does a typical day in your current job look like?
  • What is something you are proud of in your current job?
  • What are some things you’ve accomplished in your current role?

3. Tell Me What You Know About Us.

When an interviewer asks what you know about the role you’re applying for, or the company itself, they are gauging your interest in the position. Expect to answer questions about how you found out about the job, too, as these questions give the employer insight into how their recruitment process is working.

Similar questions include:

  • How did you find this role?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • Tell me what you know about this role.
  • What are some preconceived notions you have about the position?

4. Why Do You Want to Work For Us, Specifically?

These phone interview questions help the employer understand why you’re looking for a new job and why you think the company is a good fit for you.

“While you can certainly talk about your skills and qualifications for the role, I would lean towards talking about why you want to work for the company in terms of the day-to-day,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love. “You can talk about things like how you think you would flourish in the environment, how you like the team dynamic, how you want to work for a company with the same pace/drive as them, etc.”

Yamaguchi notes that focusing on how the company is a good lifestyle or workplace fit for you can help you stand out. “Companies want to hire people who will fit in well with the team and the overall workplace design.”

Similar questions include:

  • Why are you leaving your current role?
  • Why are you looking for new opportunities?
  • What are you looking for in your next role?
  • Why are you interested in this position or this company?
  • What compelled you to apply for this position?
  • Why do you want this job?

5. Why Are You the Right Fit?

Although interviewers want to know why you applied to work for their company, they also want your take on why they should hire you.

Linn Atiyeh, CEO and founder of Bemana, recommends you “…bolster your answer with real life examples to show the interviewer you mean business. It’s not enough to say you’re forward-thinking or a natural leader; what have you done in the past that exemplifies your abilities?”

Focusing your answers around concrete examples and tying them into language the job posting uses can help create a clear picture for the interviewer as to why you are the right choice.

Similar questions include:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • What would you bring to the team?
  • How can you help the company accomplish its goals?
  • Why would you succeed in this position?

6. Tell Me About a Time When You…

Situation or scenario-based phone interview questions may feel overwhelming at first, but coming up with key responses beforehand can help keep you from getting overwhelmed. Utilizing the “STAR” (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) method is also a great way to prepare. First, describe the situation and what task or challenge you needed to overcome. Then, give details of what actions you took to accomplish that goal and the results of your actions.

Avoid talking about failures unless they specifically ask for situations in which you did not accomplish your goals.

These types of questions may include:

  • Let’s say you are faced with a challenge. What would you do? This could be a difficult customer, a manager you disagree with, an overwhelming schedule, etc.
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond what was expected.
  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with a demanding customer.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a coworker or manager.
  • Tell me about a time when you had competing priorities.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed at a work task.
  • Tell me about when you saw a problem at work and how you fixed it.

7. Job-Specific Questions.

Especially in technical positions, your interviewer will want to figure out how experienced you are with job-specific programs, tools, software, or situations.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a guest relations position, the interviewer will likely ask how many years of experience you have with customer service or customer-facing roles. Be honest, but you can take this opportunity to highlight any extra knowledge you may have outside of the workplace. If you’ve taken relevant courses or had internships that gave you unique experiences, mention them!

8. Personality-Based Questions.

Even if you have all the skills required for the job, companies want to find employees who will fit within their workplace culture. Personality questions can help the interviewer understand what type of person, and more importantly, what type of worker, you are.

If the interviewer asks about your weaknesses, give a genuine answer, but follow it up with how you’re working to improve your weakness. Use your answers to express your personality, but tie them into how you’d fit into the company dynamic as much as possible.

These types of questions include:

  • What type of management style do you work best with?
  • What does your ideal manager look like?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Describe the workplace culture you work best in.
  • Do you prefer working as a team or individually?
  • What role do you typically play in a team environment?

9. If You’re Hired…?

During your phone interview, the interviewer may ask you logistical questions that impact whether or not you move forward in the application process. These may include questions about salary expectations, whether or not you are open to relocation, your earliest start date, and any upcoming responsibilities that would impact your job.

For salary expectations, you have every right to say you don’t know, but it may be good to research and figure out what that sort of role typically pays and give a range that you would be comfortable with.

Be honest about your potential start date and whether or not you’d be open to relocating. If the employer wants someone who is willing to move to a new state, but you know you wouldn’t want that, it’s better for everyone involved if you make that clear upfront.

Questions to Ask During a Phone Interview

Phone interviews are also an excellent time to ask the interviewer questions that will help you decide if the company would be the right fit for you. So take advantage of this opportunity! Asking questions shows you’re interested in the position and can help you figure out whether or not the company is a good fit for you.

A great question to ask is what sorts of challenges or tasks you’d be expected to face in the position. Dr. Tasia White, high-performance coach and founder of Vonni Coaching & Consulting, LLC says, “This question shows that the interviewee has a vested interest in the position. It also gives them the perfect opportunity to share the skills they would use to address tasks/challenges, or highlight experiences the interviewee has dealing with those specific tasks/challenges.”

Asking questions can help you evaluate the environment you’d be working in and give you critical insights into how the company treats and evaluates its employees.

Some great questions to ask include:

  • What does a typical day in this role look like?
  • How is performance measured in your company?
  • What tools or programs are commonly used in this position?
  • What are the expected working hours for this role?
  • What is the work culture like in this company?
  • What are the growth opportunities within the organization?
  • What do employees say they like best about working here?
  • What types of people are most successful in this company?
  • What are the next steps in this process?
  • When can I expect to hear back from you?

Tips for Answering Phone Screen Interview Questions

Don’t Sound Too Scripted

While you want to come off as confident and knowledgeable, this is the company’s first impression of you and your personality. So keep it professional and concise, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your responses.

Speak Clearly and Concisely

Atiyeh points out, “While articulation is always important, it’s amplified when you’re not face-to-face. If you suspect the interviewer isn’t grasping what you’re saying, feel free to ask if they’d like you to elaborate.”

Do Research Beforehand

Knowing details about the company can help you better answer possible questions and make you seem excited and interested in the position. That excitement for and knowledge of your potential future employer could be a major boost for your application.

Be Professional in Your Answers

Melissa Hirsch, principal recruiter at Betts, warns, “While this seems to be obvious, sometimes candidates will get a little too comfortable with their interviewer. Just because your interviewer might be laid back doesn’t mean you can be. Sometimes it’s a trap to see if you can maintain your professionalism.”

Make Sure You’re in a Quiet Space

Outside distractions can impact your ability to focus on your answers and make it harder for the interviewer to hear you and listen to your responses actively. Avoid having other people in the room, background music playing, and any sort of loud machine noises coming from things like air conditioning units or outside construction.

Get Comfortable

It’s normal to be nervous, but finding a way to be comfortable while answering the questions can help you come off naturally. Even reminding yourself to smile during your responses can give your answers a friendlier and more relaxed tone!

Be Open About Issues You May Have During the Call

“If there is an emergency and the candidate is waiting on a call, tell the interviewer. Apologize up front that you’re anticipating an emergency call and ask if they would like to reschedule. Most likely, they’ll say they ‘no’ but at least they know what’s going on,” says Antonia Calzetti, talent acquisition leader at Steven Winter Associates.

Ace the Interview

When answering phone interview questions, tailoring your responses to your unique assets and experiences while being honest, confident, and professional will show the employer how you would be a beneficial addition to the team.

Ready to ace that phone interview? One key factor to landing your dream job is having the right skills to match the position. You can start building your skills by taking one of Forage’s virtual experience programs.

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