How to Conduct a Phone Interview With Sample Questions

Save Organizational Time and Money Using Professional Phone Interviews

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What Is a Phone Interview?

In a phone interview, an employer interviews potential employees who appear qualified for the advertised job after the resume and cover letter are reviewed. The meetings, by phone, are conducted by one person, usually the hiring manager or a Human Resources staff member, who ask the same basic questions of each candidate they call.

While you are asking each candidate the same basic questions to give you a basis for comparison of the skills of each person during your phone interview, your candidate's responses may lead you to ask additional different follow-on questions. This is fine as long as you ask the same list basic of questions to avoid any possibility of unconscious bias or any possibility of discrimination.

The phone screen allows the employer to determine if the candidate's qualifications, experience, workplace preferences, cultural fit, and salary needs are congruent with the position and the organization. The phone screen saves managerial time (and in organizations that use a hiring team to interview prospective employees—staff time) and eliminates unlikely candidates.

While developing customized phone screen questions for each position you are attempting to fill is the recommended approach, use these phone interview best practices to guide you.

Phone Interview Best Practices

During a phone screen, your goal is to eliminate your least qualified candidates to save onsite staff time and money. Additionally, you are hoping that your most qualified, mission compatible prospects rise to the top. During a phone screen, you are also looking for hints that the candidate's needs are congruent with the offerings provided by your organization.

You want to ask enough questions during the phone interview to determine if the person is a viable candidate. Remember, you have already screened many resumes and applications to come up with your short list of applicants eligible for a phone screen.

The applicants that you will phone interview should be your best prospects at this point in your recruitment process. If a candidate was sorted into your "maybe" resume stack, the candidate is unlikely to surpass the prospects you definitely identified as your top candidates. Don't waste your time—or theirs—in a phone interview unless they were in your top tier.

Are you interested to know what you should be able to expect from the candidate during the phone interview? See these recommended phone screen interview questions.

Sample Questions for an Effective Phone Interview

Candidate’s Name: ______________________________________________

Today’s Date: ______________ Resume Attached: YES ___ NO ___

Position Title/Location: _____________________________________________

Initial Phone Interview Questions for the Specific Position

To start out your list of specific phone interview questions, you will want to develop a question that will assess the experience of the candidate in the position you are recruiting.

Sample Candidate Question

How many years of inventory management experience do you have?

List the Candidate's Response:

Then, you need to develop a question that will assess the experience of the candidate that is specific to your needs.

Sample Candidate Question

Tell me about your experience with an inventory of over half a million parts.

List the Candidate's Response:

You will next want to develop another question that will assess the experience of the candidate that is specific to your needs.

Sample Candidate Question

Tell me about your experience with computerized inventory control systems.

List the Candidate's Response:

Finally, develop a question that will assess your candidate's educational background and training.

Sample Candidate Question

Describe your educational background and experience.

List the Candidate's Response:

Next, inquire about the candidate's salary expectations.

Sample Candidate Question

Not to limit you or commit you to a certain dollar figure, but what’s the minimum salary you’d consider right now to accept another position?

List the Candidate's Response:

Ask About Facts Relevant to Your Company's Background Checking

Are you willing to agree to take a drug test, and have a criminal background checkreferences checks, educational background checks, and others as appropriate for this position? YES __________ NO ___________

Learn About Past Company and Job in the Phone Interview

If the candidate's responses to the above interview questions satisfy the phone interviewer, depending on the position, these are additional relevant questions to ask.

Sample Candidate Question

What size was the organization where you last worked in terms of revenue and employees?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

What were the organization’s primary products and markets?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

If the person had reporting staff, how many people reported to you directly – what were their titles?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

If the candidate is not currently working, ask why and when did you leave your most recent position?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

How have you spent your time since you left your most recent position?

List the Candidate's Response:

Ending the Phone Interview

If the candidate's responses to these questions satisfy the phone interviewer, proceed to schedule an onsite interview. If not, tell the candidate that you have other candidates who appear from the phone interview to have credentials and experience that more closely match the expectations of the position. End the phone interview politely and professionally with a thank you for taking the time to apply for the job.