Barely have you gotten used to having online interviews when you, all of a sudden, receive an email from a recruiter asking you to schedule a phone interview with them. If you’ve never had such interviews before, it’s not surprising that you’re on the verge of an anxiety attack.
Still, there’s no need for panic—phone interviews are not strikingly different from their online counterparts. The only distinction is that you can’t see the hiring professional, so you don’t know whether they’re sitting at the desk or pacing around their office.
Preparing for something you’re not quite familiar with may be intimidating at first. However, with our comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of phone interviews and how to ace your first one!
- By definition, a phone interview represents a process that hiring professionals refer to in order to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the role.
- Some of the most common questions include (but are not limited to) checking how well you’re familiar with the company or position you’re applying for, the potential date of your start, your salary expectations, and what you’re driven by.
- To bring off the phone interview, make sure that you are well prepared. Research the company prior to the interview, have the necessary material ready, and ensure a quiet spot for the conversation.
- If you don’t hear from the hiring professional, send them a follow-up email to see where they are in the hiring process.
11 Common Phone Interview Questions and Answers
Phone interviews allow recruiters to get an insight into a candidate’s qualifications, experience, and career goals. Such interviews also enable them to evaluate an applicant’s civility and decorum before scheduling an in-person interview.
We present you with some of the most frequent phone interview questions and answers:
#1. What do you know about our company?
Recruiters want to see if you were randomly applying for positions or whether you were drawn particularly to their company.
In the first case, they’d like to see that you put in some effort to research the company and its mission; it will be the first telltale sign of your zeal and motivation. In the second case, they’d like to see what specifically attracted you to apply for the role and why you’re interested in working for their company.
While this question may seem insignificant, it is not. Research the company and find something that could be of particular interest to you, such as its mission, values, organization, etc. Connect it with the work you may be doing, and you’ll generate an authentic answer the hiring professional is looking for.
#2. Why did you apply for this position?
Similarly to the previous question, hiring professionals want to find out if it was the peculiarities of the position that inspired you to apply or if you’re keen only on the paycheck.
A good answer should cover several different elements. You can explain that the products or services they sell, their tech stack, or their client population caught your eye. In addition, you can mention that you like their mentorship programs and career development that take place within the company.
Don’t just say that you’d like to work for them, as such an answer won’t be sufficient. Again, do some research and try to find something intriguing about the company. The more you say, the better your chances of landing the job.
#3. Tell me about yourself.
“Tell me about yourself” is an unavoidable question in interviews, no matter if they are phone, face-to-face, or pre-recorded video interviews. As opposed to what many candidates think, it is not about your childhood, school days, hobbies, favorite animals, or volunteer activism (unless it’s related to the job).
Rather, you should focus on your professional history and skills. Let your answer be a short summary of your past, present, and future, with a small touch of personal details.
Don’t take this question lightly; prepare accordingly, as you won’t have any other opportunities to pitch yourself during the interview.
#4. What are your salary expectations?
While it might be among the most discomforting, this straightforward question has a very clear-cut purpose. It gives hiring professionals insight into the remuneration you expect to receive and if you’re open to negotiations.
This way, they’ll know whether the salary range they offer is acceptable for you; if it’s not, there is no point in proceeding with the hiring process.
To give the most realistic answer, research the salary range for the position before the interview. Don’t forget to take your experience in the industry into account, though; it’s not quite sensible to ask for the salary of a senior if you’re applying for a junior position.
#5. What is your earliest start date?
Sometimes, recruiters are hiring urgently and need you to fill the position as soon as possible. If you’re not available to start soon but have a notice to hand in, exams to take, or you’re just going on a three-week vacation, do tell in advance. If you’re not able to start immediately, be honest and let the recruiter know.
There are no good or bad answers to this question; however, timelines may simply not match at the moment. If you can start only in the upcoming months, try applying for the role a bit later when you’re fully available. Otherwise, you’ll just waste your and the recruiter’s time.
#6. Why did you leave your last job?
Hiring professionals would want to know that you’re looking for a better employment opportunity than the previous one. Thus, they’d like to find out what happened at your previous job—did you perform poorly, or were you treated poorly?
Even if you were dismissed, no one would use it against you; the recruiters are seeking to not only understand the problem but also to see what you’re looking for now.
Whatever happened, resist the urge to badmouth your previous employer, as this would be a huge red flag. Even if the situation was too horrendous and traumatic, try to highlight the positive sides—what you’ve learned from that bad experience and what you’re seeking now.
#7. What motivates you?
Recruiters and hiring managers may be well aware of the fact that you’re mainly driven by money. However, they would still like to learn what your interests and passions are; this will give insight into what kind of employee you are.
Instead of confirming to them that you’re only motivated by financial incentives, talk about things that you’re passionate about, as well as your main strengths. Make sure that you relate your answer to the position and its requirements; don’t talk about helping injured and stray animals or anything that is not job-related.
#8. What are you proud of?
This is another question with which hiring professionals are checking out what you’re zealous about. Unlike the previous question, it’s not necessarily work-related, so you can talk about anything—hobbies, school, family, etc.
Again, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. But what matters here is that you exude passion and excitement while telling the story of that achievement of yours, which makes you so proud and satisfied.
Do note that you shouldn’t brag and narrate the story of your life. Rather, be concise, but try to include all the important details.
#9. Tell us about a problem you encountered and how you solved it.
This is one of the behavioral interview questions that assess your problem-solving skills and ability to handle challenges effectively.
To provide the best answer, you may want to use the so-called STAR method and go for an example that is relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Such an approach allows you to set a context (S—situation) and explain what you were responsible for (T—task). Next, it lets you elaborate on what steps you took to deal with the problem (A—action) and the outcome of the entire situation (R—results).
Don’t forget to quantify the result with figures and percentages, as you will give it more credibility that way.
#10. What can you bring to this role?
With this question, hiring professionals want to check if the candidate is aware of what the job takes, i.e., what the duties and responsibilities are, as well as if they have enough experience.
Plus, it allows hiring managers and recruiters to see how confident the candidates are about their qualifications and competencies.
To answer it, don’t just provide a generic answer. Instead, let it revolve around your skills and qualities pertaining to the job. Think about the required hard and soft skills and think about how to quantify them, if possible.
Be careful not to make things up or lie in an interview. Although even 80% of interviewees lied at least once, it still doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
#11. Do you have any questions?
A job interview is a two-way street, so you should always have some questions prepared for the hiring professional. The worst thing to say is that you have no questions, as you’ll give off an aura of massive disinterest and lack of motivation.
Even if you’ve discussed everything you wanted to learn about the position, try to come up with at least one question to ask. You can inquire about the company culture, specific challenges that the company has faced, or particular goals you may be expected to accomplish within the first several months if hired.
Not having questions is one of the worst interview mistakes you can make, so do your best not to make it.
How to Prepare for a Phone Interview
While phone interviews can be somewhat challenging since you cannot see your interlocutor’s facial expression or body language as in video or in-person interviews, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to ace them.
Here’s how to prepare for a phone interview:
- Research the company. Take some time to explore its history, culture, and products or services offered. This step can be highly beneficial for generating extra questions to ask a hiring professional.
- Know who you are talking to. A hiring professional will most likely introduce themselves when scheduling an interview with you. If you didn’t catch their name for some reason, turn to the company’s website or LinkedIn page to find it out.
- Be concise. Phone interviews are generally short, so you won’t have time to elaborate on too many details. Focus on the most important things, and make sure that your answers are concise and clear.
- Mind your body language. Even if the recruiter cannot see you, your body language matters. Smile occasionally during the conversation and adopt an upright but relaxed posture to show your confidence and enthusiasm.
- Find a quiet spot. There’s nothing worse than being distracted by myriads of sounds coming from the interlocutor’s phone. Hence, try to find a peaceful spot in your home where you won’t be disturbed by tires screeching, babies crying, or your dog barking.
- Have a pen and paper ready. You will certainly need to make some notes, so prepare a pen and piece of paper to jot down all the notes you may need.
- Make sure the signal is reliable. Before the interview, check the quality of your internet connection if you’re having a VoIP call. You don’t want poor reception to ruin your chances of landing your dream job.
4 Tips to Consider During the Phone Interview
Pulling off an interview will be a piece of cake once you master our phone interview tips. Check them out:
#1. Listen Closely
Since your interview will be over the phone, some things could be easy to miss or mishear. To avoid this, listen attentively and ask for clarifications whenever necessary. Have a pen and paper ready to write down all the things you may want to clarify.
Listening actively will show your interlocutor that you are genuinely interested in what they have to share, implying that you’re eager to get the job in their company. Therefore, don’t let their words hang somewhere in the air; ask follow-up questions to let them know that you were listening to everything they said.
#2. Speak Slowly and Clearly
Energetic people typically speak pretty fast. While listening to them during a face-to-face conversation or interview is a lot of fun because of their body language, talking to them over the phone could be a nuisance.
If you are one of those fast talkers, try to speak more slowly and clearly during your phone interview. Self-awareness is vital here if you don’t want a hiring professional to constantly ask you to repeat what you have just said.
#3. Be Professional
Impeccable manners are a must during any sort of job interview, so stay respectful and polite during the entire phone call.
Don’t get straight to business immediately after you pick up your phone. Start the conversation with light, small talk, but again, don’t be too nosey and intrusive with your questions. The interviewer could be your colleague in the near future, but they are not your friend.
Don’t interrupt them while they are talking. If you have anything to add, wait for them to finish, then speak your mind. In case you happen to interrupt them, apologize, let them finish, and respond to their question.
#4. Dress Professionally
This may sound strange, particularly because you’re having a phone call, not an online or face-to-face interview. You might just as well do it in your nightgown or pajamas.
However, resist the urge to stay in bed wearing home clothes. Instead, put on your best business casual clothes and sit at your desk. Such smart clothes, along with a home office atmosphere, will boost your confidence and improve your overall performance.
Add a smile while you’re talking, and you’ll leave a memorable impression on a hiring professional that they won’t be able to help but offer you a job.
Phone Interview Follow-Up Email
If you don’t receive any feedback from a recruiter in about a week or two after the phone interview, send them a follow-up email. Don’t be shy or hesitant to do so—there’s nothing intrusive in it, as your imposter syndrome wants you to think.
Sending a follow-up email will let you know where you’re standing in the process. They might still be interviewing, so they have no news for you; however, checking in may spur them to keep you in mind when they are about to shortlist the best candidates.
If you’re not sure how to formulate your email, you can use this as an example:
I hope that you’re doing well. It was such a pleasure to talk to you last week.
I just wanted to follow up and check in on where you are in the hiring process for the project manager. I’m still interested in it and enthusiastic about the opportunity, so could you please let me know if you need anything else from me to help you reach the final decision?
Though they might seem a bit more challenging, phone interviews have the same purpose as online and in-person interviews—to evaluate a candidate’s skills and competencies before offering them a job.
What makes these interviews distinctive from their counterparts is that you can’t see your interlocutor. For that reason, the preparation for them is slightly different. But once you’re aware of the questions that interviewers may pop out and follow the tips we’ve provided, you’re bound to rock it!