A Simple Guide to Telephone Interview Questions

A Simple Guide to Telephone Interview Questions

As a job seeker, it’s important to be prepared for any type of interview. Likely, the first you will encounter is the telephone interview, which can often be tricky and intimidating. To help you prepare for this type of interview, we have compiled a guide to telephone interview questions that will help you ace your next phone call with an employer or recruiter.

Our simple guide covers everything from common questions to tips on how to make the best impression during your conversation. With our advice in mind, you’ll be able to confidently answer all types of questions and demonstrate why you are the perfect fit for the role.So read on and get ready to shine in your upcoming telephone interviews.

What is the purpose of a telephone interview?

The purpose of a telephone interview in the job interview process is to give employers or recruiters an initial assessment of the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and communication abilities. It also allows them to determine if they would like to pursue further interviews with the candidate. Telephone interviews are a great way for employers to save time and money by assessing candidates before bringing them in for a scheduled interview.

She is smiling on the phone interview.

Phone interview tip: dress for the role and smile.

What types of telephone interview questions will I be asked by the hiring manager?

Telephone interviews usually involve a variety of questions related to the job you are applying for. These can range from general knowledge questions about the company and industry, to specific technical questions about the position. You can get a good idea of what may happen next, if you are successful, looking at the depth of the questions.

This interview round is often called a phone screen and can include a basic set of questions used to qualify you for an in person interview. You should prepare the same way and not be surprised if you are talking to a recruiter moving pretty quickly and asking about location, interest, confirming salary, etc. Phone screening is a typical part of the interviewing process you need to get right to end your job search successfully.

Phone interview tip: if you find yourself in longer conversations and responding to more detailed questions you may be in a first (or even final) interview and your preparation will really put you at the top of the applicant pool. In either case and wherever you are in the interview process you must be prepared and professional to shine. Keep reading.

How do I get to a phone interview?

Getting to a phone interview is the first step in the job search process and can be achieved by submitting your resume and cover letter directly to a company or through an online job search engine. Once you have submitted your application, keep an eye out for any emails or calls from the employer. If they are interested, they may invite you to participate in a telephone interview.

Additionally, if you are invited to participate in an onsite face-to-face interview, sometimes companies will also conduct an initial phone screen beforehand to further narrow down their candidate pool. Lastly, some employers may use telephone interviews as their primary step in the hiring process when hiring new talent, so it’s important to stay prepared and practice answering common questions beforehand.

To get selected into the phone interview stage you need to apply to jobs that fit with a resume that shows that fit. Your application shows your interest, from there it is the recruiter or hiring managers’ job to narrow down the applicants who will make it to the phone screening. If you are applying to jobs and not getting calls to the screening interview stage stop reading this and work on your resume or job targeting.

only 2% of applicants will get an interview

Only 2% of applicants will get to an interview, this is highly competitive and if you are not getting calls you are not making the cut. Here are some resources to get you started:

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What happens after this interview?

After a successful telephone interview, successful candidates typically progress to a face-to-face meeting. This is an opportunity for both the candidate and employer to further explore the potential job opportunity in greater detail. During this type of interview, employers may ask additional questions about the applicant’s qualifications, skills, and experience not discussed during the telephone interview. You can ace your interview by reading this article and being prepared. If you will face an interview panel you can learn about that and video interviews on our blog as well.

Sometimes this is the only interview and you will need to be prepared for an offer right then and there. This is less likely but is happening more and more in certain segments. Don’t worry – read this, and this and you will be ready to negotiate your salary and signing bonus.


Top Phone Interview Tips

Let’s take a look at phone interviews in more detail. Below we cover how to interact with the recruiter, the hiring manager, talk about phone interview questions and how to answer them along with what you should ask (and not ask) on the phone interview.

Advantages of a phone screen interview

Advantages of a phone screen interview include the ability to connect with potential employers quickly and efficiently. A phone interview is often the first step in the hiring process and can be used by employers to assess if a candidate is suitable for the position. By having an initial conversation, employers can gain an understanding of who you are as a person, your background, experiences, and qualifications.

Another advantage of a phone screen interview is that it gives you the opportunity to ask questions about the job description and get more information about the company or job opportunity before committing to an in-person meeting with a hiring manager. This helps both parties determine if there is a fit before moving forward in the hiring process. It also allows employers to assess a candidate’s communication skills and how well they articulate their thoughts.

Phone interviews also offer convenience for both parties involved; you do not have to travel long distances for an initial screening and employers don’t need to bring as many people into their office for multiple stages of interviews. (Phone interview tip: try to set up a couple in the same day an hour apart to maximize your time.

What to expect on a phone interview with a recruiter?

When having a phone interview with a recruiter, you can expect them to ask questions about your background, experiences and qualifications. They will likely want to know why you are interested in the position and if you have any relevant skills or experience that makes you an ideal candidate for the job. Additionally, they may give you more information on the company or job opportunity and answer any questions that you have about it. At the end of the phone interview, they should provide an indication to when their client plans to move forward with next steps in the hiring process.

How can I impress a recruiter in a phone interview?

Preparation is key when it comes to impressing recruiters during your interview process. Make sure you are familiar with the company and position prior to the call, as this will demonstrate your interest in the opportunity. Have a few questions prepared that you can ask about the organization and position , as this will showcase your research skills. Additionally, be sure to express enthusiasm for the opportunity, the company’s mission, and articulate how your skill set can add value to the role. Finally, end the phone call with a polite thank you and inquire about when you should expect to hear back from them about next steps in the hiring process.

Want to really shine? – Here is a phone interview tip: refer to the job description, most applicants do not and often show up unprepared for the crucial phone screen interview. Stand out, have the job description, your resume, and questions ready. You go this.

What should you NOT say in a phone interview?

It is important to be aware of the topics and questions you should not discuss in your phone interview.

Money: you should refrain from talking about past salary unless specifically asked by the interviewer. Doing so can give off the impression that you are more concerned with money than the role itself. Instead you can suggest to the interviewer that you wait till the end to talk turkey. I have a full-length article on how to negotiate here that should help.

Do not over-talk in your phone interview. It is important to keep your answers relevant and concise as going off on tangents can be a distraction from what the interviewer is asking. The screening interview is usually streamlined to help everyone save time, make sure you use your wisely.

Finally, it is best to avoid any controversial topics such as politics, religion, or other personal matters while in your phone interview. Being aware of these topics will help you to put your best foot forward during a phone interview.

What common phone interview questions will they ask?

Tell me about yourself!

When answering “Tell me about yourself,” it is important to be concise and provide the interviewer with information relevant to the job. Begin by introducing yourself, your background, and what makes you unique. You can then briefly discuss any relevant experience or skills you have as well as why you are interested in this particular position. Make sure to keep your answer under two minutes long and end with a question for the interviewer about their experience or expectations for the role. Lastly, be sure to thank them for their time, phone interviews are just like any interview in this respect.

What are your salary expectations?

When it comes to talking about salary expectations during an interview, it is important to be prepared and well-informed. You should thoroughly research what a fair market rate is for the position you are interviewing for and base your salary expectations off of that information. Additionally, when replying to this question make sure to remain positive and professional by focusing on the value you will add rather than simply asking for an amount. Phone interview questions are there to qualify you so keep your answer short and sweet.

Try answering something like “I am open to discussing what compensation package would be equitable based on my qualifications” or “My expectation is to receive a number which reflects both market value and my skillset”. This shows employers that you understand the dynamics at play in terms of salary negotiation while also presenting yourself as confident yet humble.

What can you bring to this role?

When answering phone interview questions like this, it is important to draw upon your experience and qualifications as well as providing evidence of how they can be beneficial to the organization. Focus on what you bring that is unique and valuable such as special skills or impressive professional accomplishments.

Additionally, make sure to include any transferable skills that have been developed through previous positions or training which could help in the role you are interviewing for. To further emphasize your potential value, provide examples of how you have applied those skill sets successfully in past positions or projects.

Lastly, mention any relevant knowledge or expertise that could help the organization reach its goals more effectively. By showcasing your capabilities clearly and confidently, employers will be able to evaluate if you would add value within their company.

When can you start?

Depending on your situation this may be immediately, in a few weeks or months, or after an agreed upon notice period with your current employer. For those who are employed elsewhere it is helpful to provide the interviewer with a sense of how much notice you will need in order to give your employer before leaving.

If you are unsure of the exact amount, offer them an approximate timeline while reassuring them that you will work hard to ensure a smooth transition into their team. As above, phone interview questions are qualifying so as long as you can start in a reasonable amount of time you are good.

Additionally, make sure to leave some room for negotiation as some employers may request earlier start dates based on business needs. Ultimately by being open and communicative with the interviewer they can help determine if their timetable works well for both parties involved.

How familiar are you with our company?

When responding to this question it’s important to demonstrate that you have done your research. Begin by discussing what you know about the company, such as its history, mission statement, services or products they offer and any recent accomplishments they have achieved. Additionally, include why their company is of particular interest to you and how your skillset makes you an ideal candidate for their position. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if there are any details that are unclear or if there is something more specific that you would like to learn more about. By being knowledgeable and engaged while answering phone interview questions, employers will be able to assess whether or not your qualifications match the job description. Ultimately by showing them that you already understand exactly what they do and why their organization matters can make all the difference in getting hired for the job.

Tell me the role you are looking for?

Be specific about the roles and responsibilities that appeal to you as well as why your qualifications make you a great fit for the job. Additionally, emphasize your interest in their company and explain how it aligns with your career aspirations or desired job trajectory.

Finally, provide examples of past accomplishments or successes which demonstrate both your capabilities and potential value to their team. By showcasing your skillset confidently while also expressing enthusiasm for the role they will be able to better understand what makes you an ideal candidate for the position.

Tell me a challenge you faced and how you solved it:

Try this on for size: “One of the challenges I recently faced was ensuring that a project was completed on time and within budget. To ensure that this goal was met, I organized a team of experts in the field and delegated tasks accordingly. Additionally, I provided regular updates to stakeholders while also staying on schedule with our deadlines. By taking a proactive approach and staying organized, I was able to successfully finish the project ahead of schedule – effectively meeting both the time and budget requirements. This experience has helped me understand the importance of proper planning and how it can lead to improved efficiency and success.”

Why did you leave your last job?

When answering this question it’s important to provide detail while avoiding any negative or disparaging comments about past employers. I left my last job because I was looking for a new opportunity that would allow me to further develop my skills and take on more challenging responsibilities. Additionally, the position enabled me to use my previous experience in an entirely different field which further appealed to me. Ultimately by presenting this information as positive and emphasizing what value you can bring to their company they will be able to evaluate if you are the right fit for their organization.

Why are you looking for work?

I like to keep this one simple: “I’m looking for work because I want to use my skills and experience to make a meaningful contribution to an organization that aligns with my values. I believe the opportunity I am currently seeking will provide me with the challenges and growth opportunities in which I thrive. Additionally, I am eager to grow professionally and contribute positively to a team environment. Finally, what appeals most about this particular position is the potential for long-term growth within this organization. Ultimately by finding a job that offers stability while also providing ample room for development, both personally and professionally, is something that motivates me every day. “

Tell me about a time when…

… you were able to communicate effectively:

… make work relationships stronger:

…you solved a client problem

All of these are referred to behavioral questions. Anything that sounds like “Tell me about a time..” is usually the start of a question that will uncover how you operate at work.

The STAR method is a useful tool for responding to behavioral interview questions. It stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. When answering these types of questions, you should structure your answer by first providing the interviewer with the relevant background information (Situation), describing your response and steps taken (Task & Action) as well as what ultimately happened (Result).

This will enable them to better understand the impact of your contribution at your current job and how they may be applicable in other scenarios. By using this technique you are able to give detailed and specific answers that provide a thorough overview of the particular situation or challenge being asked about. Ultimately, by following this approach you can highlight key successes while also demonstrating thoughtful problem-solving skills as well as an understanding of how those solutions continue to benefit organizations today.

Practice the questions above out-loud using this framework and you will not have to stumble through these in the future. They are not easy to answer and that is the point. But you know that the employer is looking for the behaviors you will exhibit with them so you can answer with ease.

Questions to Ask Your Phone Interviewer

What questions should I ask a recruiter during a phone interview?

– What qualities are you looking for in the successful applicant?
– How will my performance be evaluated?
– What do you think makes your company attractive to potential candidates?
– Could you provide me with an overview of what a typical day looks like?
– What is the next step in the recruitment process after this phone interview?
– Is there anything else I should know about the position before making a decision to apply or accept an offer.

By asking questions such as these you can demonstrate your interest in the job posting and gain a better understanding of what will be expected of you. Most people fail to ask questions at the end – you won’t because you know that they expect anyone who works for them to be able to come up with a few simple questions and you will have these ready!

What to say to a recruiter over the phone?

Here is a great phone interview tip: when the call begins you have a brief window to really set yourself apart. You don’t have to be a master of small talk to stand out, you just need to understand that the person on the call with you is there to get a job done and when you help them with that you seem like a great person to work with.

Try this; start by confirming who you are and what job you applied for. Then let them know you have everything you need to get started and are ready to jump right in. Practice this and you will shine in the interview process.

“Hey Ronny Recruiter, thanks for the call. This is Brian, I applied for the recruiter role you advertised in Honolulu. I am really excited to learn about it and give you a chance to ask me what you need. I have my resume, the job description, and about an hour to share with you. If you can hear me OK I am ready when you are.”

If you master this and have these documents on hand, have read them, and are in a quiet place with no background noise and ready to go you will bring a smile to the recruiter’s face and be closer to the next stage before you start.

Final phone interview tips to help you make the cut:

  • Practice answering the common interview questions out loud before your call.
  • Have a copy of your resume handy in case they ask any specific questions about it.
  • Have an upbeat attitude and dress as if you were attending an in-person interview (it will put you in the right mindset.)
  • Smile, they can hear it.

Use the job description

This is a powerful document that you can be familiar with and it provides a tom of context for you to show that you are a fit and provide great insights into the role and the company. Read it, and more importantly, refer to it in the call.

If the company culture does not show through in that document you can ask about it or talk to the hiring manager about it. Of all the career advice I give I think that the strongest pre-interview strategy is just getting familiar with this document. It is also great to have printed out for an in person interview.

That may seem like a lot to do for what may be a 20-30 minute call. It is, and the thing you need to remember in this process is that the closer you get to the offer the more work you need to put into it. If this was about making toast or how to open an Amazon package (things I am also good at) it would not take three thousand words, images, and video. (Wel,, maybe video.)

This is important stuff and a come up early in your career can have a tremendous impact later on. Take it from someone who missed a few opportunities early in his career, invest the time in this now, you are woth it.

Life's Work Press

Every career journey is different and unique and many can benefit from some specific guidance along the way. In addition to our career coaching website we publish books, workbooks and audio books (soon) to help you lean into your strengths :

Find a Job You Love and Get the Job You Want – paperback/Kindle

In a job market like this fewer than 2% of job seekers will get an interview for any given job opening. In order to give jobseekers an advantage Brian Fenerty has just published a brand new book called “How to Find a Job You Love and Get the Job You Want – The Only Job Hunting Guide You Need”. 

Signing Bonus Negotiation Workbook – digital download

When you’re offered a new job, it’s normal to feel ecstatic. After all, you’ve worked hard to get to this point in your career and you deserve it. But before you sign on the dotted line, there’s one more important thing to consider: your signing bonus.

Interview Preparation Workbook – digital download

How you introduce yourself, the questions you ask, and what you share about your own experiences will make a big impression on potential employers.  The way you behave in those interviews will have a specific effect on the number and quality of offers you receive, etc…

This workbook was created to give you the confidence you need to perform in your next job interview and stand out from the crowd. In it you will learn:

– How to answer “Tell me about yourself?”
– What questions you should ask them.
– The employer’s perspective.
– How to set salary expectations.

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