Are you prepared for a phone interview? What will the interviewer ask you? Before you interview in person with a hiring manager, you may be asked to take part in a brief phone screen interview.
If you're interviewing for a freelance or remote position or for any job with a virtual hiring process, you may have a longer and more in-depth interview. In these cases, a telephone interview may be the only actual interview you'll have.
The Importance of Phone Interviews
Phone interviews can make or break your candidacy for a job. While they are a good means for an employer to save the time and costs required to interview candidates in person, they are by their very nature impersonal.
In some cases, you won’t even be talking to a hiring manager—a human resources staffer or an administrative assistant may simply ask you a preset list of questions and record your answers for later review by their superior.
These types of interviews thus come with their own special challenges. For one thing, a phone interview is likely the first time you’ll speak directly with a representative from the employer, and you won’t be able to rely upon body language to build rapport. And, unlike emailing back and forth, a phone interview offers no chance to re-read and re-formulate your thoughts.
Common Phone Interview Questions and Best Answers
The best approach to a phone interview is to come to the conversation prepared to answer any and all questions the hiring manager might ask. Review some typical questions and answers here, and you’ll have a great head start.
Interview Questions About You
These questions are asked both to assess your level of self-knowledge and to determine whether you would be able to fit in with the employer’s workplace culture. The interviewer wants to know whether you're the right person for the job and for the company.
- What are you looking for in your next job? - Best Answers
- What is your greatest weakness? - Best Answers
- What is your greatest strength? - 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
Questions About Your Background
It's important to be able to describe your education and work experience in a way that persuasively demonstrates your strengths as a candidate. Take the time to match your qualifications to the job description and show the hiring manager why you're a perfect fit for the position.
- 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
Questions About the New Job and the Company
One of the best ways to rise above your competition in a phone interview is to show that you’ve taken the time to research the employer’s company, history, culture, and mission statement. Explain how your experience could help the company if you were to be hired, and share what you've learned about the organization.
- Why do you want this job? - Best Answers
- What experience do you have? - Best Answers
- What can you do for this company? - Best Answers
- What do you know about this company? - Best Answers
- What challenges are you looking for in a position? - Best Answers
- What can you contribute to this company? - Best Answers
Tips to Answer Questions During Phone Interviews
Here are a few additional strategies that will help you to rock your phone interview.
Observe phone interview etiquette “Dos” and “Don’ts.” When it comes to getting hired, phone interview etiquette is just as important as in-person job interview etiquette. That's because, regardless of the means of communication, a successful interview will get you to the next stage of the hiring process.
Do a mock interview. 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.
Prepare your environment. Prepare a quiet, comfortable space for the interview itself, so that you’ll feel ready for the call.
Prepare for tough interview questions. 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.
How to Make the Best Impression
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 can be found here).
It pays to take the time to practice answering common questions before your interview.
Questions To Ask Your Interviewer
In addition to reviewing the typical phone interview questions that you'll most likely be asked, it's also important to have a list of questions ready to ask the phone interviewer. It’s very possible that the interviewer will ask, at the end of the conversation, “Is there anything I haven’t told you about the job or company that you would like to know?”
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.