Phone Interview Questions and the Best Answers

The Best Answers for Phone Interview Questions

Woman talking on cell phone at home
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Before you interview with a hiring manager in person, you’ll likely be asked to do a phone interview. Phone interviews are conducted just like in-person interviews. They are used by hiring managers and recruiters as a tool for screening candidates for employment.

That said, phone interviews come with their own special challenges. For one thing, a phone interview is likely the first time you speak with a representative from the employer.

Unlike emailing back and forth, a phone interview offers no chance to re-read and re-formulate your thoughts.

As the old commercial goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression.

Another issue with phone interviews is that you can’t rely on body language. (Unless, of course, your phone interview is actually a video interview. Tips on that situation, here.)

The best approach is come to the conversation prepared to answer any and all questions the hiring manager might ask. Review these questions and answers, and you’ll have a head start. 

Phone Interview Questions About Your Background

    Name of company, job title and job description, dates of employment. - Best Answers

    What were your starting and final levels of compensation? - Best Answers

    What were your responsibilities? - Best Answers

    What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them? - Best Answers

    Why are you leaving your job? - Best Answers

    What are your salary expectations? - Best Answers

Phone Interview Questions About the New Job and the Company

    What interests you about this job? - Best Answers

    Why do you want this job? - Best Answers

    What applicable attributes / experience do you have?

- Best Answers

    Are you overqualified for this job? - Best Answers

    What can you do for this company? - Best Answers

    What do you know about this company? - Best Answers

    Why do you want to work here? - Best Answers

    What challenges are you looking for in a position? - Best Answers

    What can you contribute to this company? - Best Answers

    Are you willing to travel? - Best Answers

    Is there anything I haven't told you about the job or company that you would like to know? - Best Answers

Phone Interview Questions About You

    What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you? - Best Answers

    What is your greatest weakness? - Best Answers

    What is your greatest strength? - Best Answers

    Describe a typical work week. - Best Answers

    How would you describe the pace at which you work? - Best Answers

    How do you handle stress and pressure? - Best Answers

    What motivates you? - Best Answers

    Tell me about yourself. - Best Answers

    Questions about your career goals. - Best Answers

    What type of work environment do you prefer? - Best Answers

    How do you evaluate success? - Best Answers

    Job interview questions about your abilities. - Best Answers

    More job interview questions about you. - Best Answers

Have Questions of Your Own Ready to Ask
When you are invited for a phone interview, in addition to reviewing the typical phone interview questions you'll be asked, it's important to have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer. Asking the right questions will help you gather more information about the company than you can glean from researching it online or even speaking to current and former employees in your network.

In addition, asking interested and informed questions during the phone interview can affirm your commitment to pursuing the opportunity. Serious candidates want to know what it’s like to work at the organization, whether they’ll fit into the corporate culture, and where their careers might take them at the company, should they get the job.

Observe Phone Interview Etiquette
Phone interview etiquette is just as important as in-person job interview etiquette when it comes to getting hired. That's because, regardless of the means of communication, a successful interview will get you to the next stage of the hiring process.

Ask friends or family members to help you conduct a mock interview and record it, so that you can hear what you sound like over the phone. Then, prepare a quiet, comfortable space for the interview itself, so that you’ll feel ready for the call.

Prepare for Tough Interview Questions
Generally, phone interviews are more along the lines of an initial employment screening, intended to weed out the candidates that aren’t a good fit. However, sometimes hiring managers will throw you a curveball and ask trickier questions like, “Describe a decision you made that was a failure. What happened and why?”

Preparing for these tough interview questions will save you from being surprised, should the interviewer decide to skip the easy stuff. And even if she keeps it simple for the phone screen, you’ll be happy you prepared for the harder questions that may arise in a face-to-face job interview later on. 

More About Phone Interviews: Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts | Best Tips for Acing a Phone Interview