Phone Interview Questions & Answers

Phone interview questions come just like the traditional face-to-face type of question. The only difference is you hardly get the time to formulate your thoughts, and you cannot see the interviewer. Hence, you two are not able to read each other’s body language. However, with the right amount of preparation, you can make sure that you make the right impression.

Learn more about phone interview questions & how to answer them.

Telephone interviews are mostly fixed during the early stages of the job interview process. Interviewers use it as an opportunity to get to know more about the job candidates. They are also useful for screening job applicants. It is cost-effective, as the interviewer does not need to invest the same level of time and resources as the traditional face-to-face interviews. The phone interview questions are also usually straight to the point.

Questions you can be asked include questions about your CV, education, work experience, behavioral questions, career goals, etc. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

What Is A Phone Interview?

For some job openings, employers or recruiters get such high volumes of candidates applying that this can result in a large workload if not managed efficiently. Of course, based on resume and cover letter reviews or even online assessments, it’s likely that the number of qualified candidates will drop. However, this will still leave several candidates that need to be interviewed by a hiring manager.

For interviewers, the actual interview is the most time-consuming step to take in the hiring process. Therefore, they are looking for opportunities to streamline this process and make it more efficient. Employers usually conduct phone interviews in the initial interview round of their hiring process. Another essential characteristic of phone interviews is that they are so-called structured interviews. This means that the questions asked are tailored to meet the specific position you’re interviewing for.

Structured interviews are also known as standardized interviews. Every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order. Furthermore, all candidates are compared on the same scale to gauge their suitability for the position. The questions asked during these interviews are open-ended and usually include behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions.

The questions asked in a phone interview generally focus on qualifications instead of cultural fit. The interviewer’s goal is to ‘screen’ you to see if you’re one of the candidates that they want to invite for an in-person interview. Phone interviews are an efficient and effective way to eliminate candidates who don’t pass the screening phase.

What To Expect In A Phone Interview

During an interview, the hiring manager wants to discuss a couple of important topics that can help them make a better hiring decision. During phone interviews, you can expect the interviewer to touch on subjects such as:

  1. Employment history
  2. Skills and abilities
  3. Accomplishments
  4. Job qualifications
  5. Educational background
  6. Career goals
  7. Personality

Interviewers can ask different types of questions during a phone interview. For example, they can ask you personal interview questions, behavioral interview questions, and situational interview questions.

  • Personal Questions

Personal interview questions are questions about you personally and your personality. In other words, the interviewer wants to know more about your work ethic, work style, how you handle stress, what you expect from the job, and how you handle certain situations.

When an interviewer asks you personal questions about you and how you work, they are trying to assess if you’re a good match for the position and culture of the company. For instance, if the position requires a flexible candidate that does not have a 9-to-5 mentality and that will do everything to get their job done, but you cannot commit to the extra hours, you may not be the right candidate for the job.

Example of common personal interview questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What motivates you?
  3. What is your greatest strength?
  4. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  5. What do you consider your greatest weakness?
  • Behavioral Questions

Behavioral job interview questions ask you to provide specific examples of past work experiences. For interviewers, understanding your past professional performance is the best way to gauge your future job performance. The interviewer will ask you questions that require you to recall situations and explain how you handled them.

Behavioral questions usually start with:

  • Give me an example of..
  • Tell me about a time when..
  • Describe a situation where..

Behavioral questions are focused on the desired skills or competency area. Other common competency areas for which behavioral questions are used are problem-solving, teamwork, communication, time management, creative thinking skills, leadership, adaptability, conflict resolution, etc.

  • Situational Questions

Situational interview questions are similar to behavioral interview questions. Behavioral interview questions also require you to discuss work performances that the interviewers use to gauge your future job success. The difference between them is that behavioral questions regard how you handled situations in the past, while scenario-based questions require you to discuss hypothetical questions.

Situational questions usually start with:

  • How would you handle a situation..
  • What would you do if..

How To Prepare For A Phone Interview

Besides making sure you’re ready to start your interview, there are also a couple of points; you can focus on during your phone interview.

  1. Cut out all distractions

During a phone interview, it’s essential that you can fully focus on the questions of the interviewer without being distracted. Therefore, make sure you’re in a quiet room where nobody will interrupt your conversation. Turn off the tv, make sure there aren’t any children or pets in the room, or any other noisemakers that can bring background noise that can distract you.

If you’re using a mobile phone for your call, make sure that your battery is charged. Also, a headset can be very helpful. This way, you can also go through your documents easier when the interviewer has questions about them.

  1. Listen actively

Don’t just listen; listen actively during your phone interview. Active listening is a way to establish effective communication between two or more people. To listen actively during an interview is really focusing on what the interview is saying and is asking from you.

Focus on the tone of voice of the interviewer and try to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. Of course, this sounds easier than it’s done, but make sure your answers include what you think that the interviewer is looking for and wants to hear from you. In other words, if you were the interviewer, what would you like to hear from a candidate?

If you can’t come up with an answer right away or if you’re not sure what the interviewer wants to know from you, you can repeat the question or paraphrase. Active listening and focusing on providing concise and to the point answers can give you a competitive edge during job interviews.

  1. Stay positive

Even though it’s impossible to show your non-verbal skills, still focusing on them during your phone interview can help convey a positive attitude. Therefore, smile during your interview and use your non-verbal skills just like you would in an in-person job interview. This might sound strange, but you will come across more engaged and upbeat when you do so. This can help you make a positive impression during the interview.

  1. Speak calmly and clearly

Make sure you’re calm before your interview. Don’t forget that a job interview is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your qualities and skills. Your main goal is to get your answers across clearly with the information included that the interviewer is looking for.

It’s important to realize that you only have the power of your voice during a phone interview. Therefore, talk calmly, convey a positive attitude, stay engaged, and use positive language in your answers.

Negativity will never impress interviewers the right way. Don’t badmouth previous employers or colleagues as this will hurt your chances of proceeding to the next interview rounds.

Also, focus on cues that the interviewer gives you during the interview. You can mirror their talking speed and tone of voice.

  1. Take notes

Take notes during the phone interview. Prior to your interview, you should have figured out who you will be speaking to. However, if this is not clear or somebody else calls you for whatever reason, make sure you write down their name and job title. Also, at the end of the interview, ask them for their contact details. This way, you can send them a thank you note, and you can ask any remaining questions in case you have them.

Write down any relevant information about the position that’s not available in the job description. Also, note any commitments you make. For example, if the interviewer asks you for additional documentation. In general, write down everything that you think is important during the call. However, don’t lose focus and stay engaged in the conversation.

After the interview, it’s also wise to make some final notes, for instance, about the next steps in the process or any other information you do not want to forget.

  1. Ask questions back to the interviewer

Besides giving strong answers that actually answer the question in a way the interviewer is looking for, you should ask questions back. Asking questions back will demonstrate that you came prepared, that you’re genuinely interested, and that you take the interview seriously.

Interviews are supposed to be a two-way street. This means that the interviewer wants to ask you questions to get to know you and learn about your skills. But it also means that you should use the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions about the position, management, and the company itself to figure out if this is the right position for you.

Asking questions back to the interviewer is an overlooked key to success. Therefore, make sure you prepare questions to ask!

Learn more about smart questions you can ask the interviewer.

  1. End your phone interview strong

If it’s not clear to you how the hiring process will proceed, the end of the phone interview is the perfect time to ask. However, again, be enthusiastic when the interviewer brings the call to an end. For example, you can say something like:

Thank you again for your time to speak to me today. I’ve enjoyed discussing the position and your company, and I look forward to discussing it in more detail in person.

Also, inquire about the best way to stay in touch about any updates regarding the hiring process, via email or telephone. If, at the end of the call, there’s no timeframe set for the employer to follow-up, you can ask how and when you can follow up with them. Last but not least, make sure you have written down the contact information of the people you spoke to and who you can contact about a possible follow-up interview.

Common Phone Interview Questions & Answers

Below we discuss the 10 most common phone interview questions asked by interviewers. Furthermore, we describe what the interviewer is looking for and give you example answers. However, remember that these are just general examples. Make sure to tailor your own answers to your specific situation and position where you’re applying for.

Learn more about commonly asked job interview questions here.

  1. How did you find this job?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

There are several reasons why interviewers are interested in how they found out about the position. Firstly, they are probably genuinely interested in how you found the position. This could help them optimize their hiring process in the future. Also, if you found the position through a connection or (former) employee, this can be important information for the interviewer to know. Secondly, and most importantly, the interviewer wants to know the reason why you applied for the job.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

You must provide the interviewer with a specific answer. Therefore, keep track of the positions that you applied for. You could, for example, create an excel file in which you note the most important details of the specific job opening. Think of information such as when you applied, the name of the employer, where you found the job, etc.

The interviewer wants to hear you explain how you found the job and why you applied. Their goal with this question is to assess how interested you really are in the position and working for the company.

Example answer to ‘How did you find this job?’

‘ I reached out to my network when I decided to look for new opportunities to develop myself further in this field to advance my career. A friend of mine [name, job title, company, etc.] who I know through [former employer, university, etc.] was aware of this job opening and thought it would be a great opportunity for me.

She spoke highly of your company and recommended the job to me because my skills match the job requirements. When I looked at the job description, I could not agree more with her. This is the reason why I applied for the position with a lot of enthusiasm. I’m curious to learn more about the position and your company, so I really appreciate you calling me today.’

  1. Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

Usually, this question is used as a first or second question to start the conversation. Also, because the question is open-ended, the interviewers can use the information you give them to come up with a follow-up question. The main goal of this question is to get to know you better and assess your soft and hard skills.

For you, this is a perfect opportunity to sue this question to your advantage to show that you are effective and clear in your communication. Furthermore, you can present yourself professionally and demonstrate why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer is looking for you to communicate clearly and have a story ready about your present, past, and future. Hiring managers generally are interested in your current role, accomplishments, your history, and how you got to this point but also what you’re looking to do next and why you’re interested in this position.

Whatever type of answer structure you decide to go with, it’s important that you link your answer to the position and company.

Example answer to ‘Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume’

‘I grew up in a town near [City] in a family that owns a restaurant. My family has worked in that restaurant for generations. As I got older, I used to assist my parents in the business. I always had an interest in the commercial side and helped with structuring marketing campaigns to get the occupancy up during the low season.

After graduating from high school for me, the decision was easy: I would go to Business School at the [University of XYZ]. I chose [University of XYZ] because of the school’s strong academics and strong reputation.

During the summer, I followed an internship at Deutsche Bank and the year after at Citigroup. Those experiences, for me, were very valuable to gain a better insight into what I wanted in my future career. Holding analyst positions at Deutsche Bank as well as at Citi made clear for me that I wanted to get into investment banking. I enjoyed those internships a lot and passed the CFA level I exam soon after. The financial industry allows me to demonstrate my quantitative and analytical abilities.

After I graduated, I got an offer at Deutsche Bank, and I’ve worked there for the last two years as an associate. I’m very experienced in financial modeling, and I was responsible for valuing equities, bonds, and developing investment strategies for mutual funds and other portfolios. My experience seamlessly matches the requirements of the job description. So that is what got me interested in this particular role, and I feel it’s the right step to take in my career. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to interview for it. Thanks for the invitation and your time to chat with me today.’

  1. Why are you looking for a job?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

This is a common job interview question, in general. Interviewers are interested in the thought you put into your search for a new position. Furthermore, they want to know why this specific position and what you’re looking for in a new job.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Ensure you provide a positive answer regarding why you’re leaving your current position and why you’re looking for a new challenge. When the interviewer asks you why you’re looking for a new job, you can view this as a great opportunity to emphasize your skills, experience, and abilities.

Furthermore, you can explain what this new position brings you and how you can use and improve your skills.

Example answer to ‘Why are you looking for a job?’

‘Over the last years, I’ve steadily worked on improving my financial modeling skills, and last quarter I received my CFA level 1. Currently, I’m looking for a new opportunity where I can further advance my skills, and this position is a perfect fit for me.

I read in the job description that this role will focus on valuation and business modeling to help companies better understand the impact on their business. This really excites me, and one of the key motivators for me is the ability to connect with clients and work in a team to reach a common goal.

Ultimately, I’ve learned a lot in my current position, but I’m ready to take the next step in my career where I can continue to develop myself and my skills.’

  1. What do you know about our company?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

This is a very important question for interviewers. Your answer tells them whether or not you take the interview seriously and if you did research before you applied for the job. Interviewers are not looking for someone who did not put any thought into why they would want to work for their company. Therefore, hiring managers are very careful and selective in who they will let go through to the next interview round.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interviewers are specifically looking for you to explain why you applied to the position and why you want to work for their company. It’s therefore essential that you do your research prior to your interview.

Also, in your answer, mention specific facts that demonstrate that you understand their business and know their organization, products, and/or services. To substantiate these facts, you can mention specific information that you found on their social media accounts, in the news, or on their company website.

Example answer to ‘What do you know about our company?’

‘ I’m really impressed by the products and services your company has been able to push in such a competitive market. Furthermore, the top-quality customer service provided to make your products available to everybody who wants to use it is something that I always admired. I know that your company sets high targets for employees, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to be a part of a team that is not afraid to take calculated risks to push into new markets.

I have several years of experience working with tight deadlines and fast-paced work environments. Furthermore, I believe my time management abilities and team working skills can make me a valuable addition to your team. Also, I read in recent news that you are looking to expand your target markets into providing services for financial institutions as well. Is that correct? Could you please tell me more about that?’

  1. Why are you interested in this position?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

There are a couple of reasons why interviewers want to know what interests you about the position that you applied for. The main goal is assessing if you did your homework and if you understand what the job entails. Furthermore, they want to know how te job fits into your career goals and what you plan to achieve within the position.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interviewers look for candidates who are sure about their decisions, what they want to achieve in their career, and how the position they applied for helps them achieve those goals. Therefore, make sure you provide the interviewer with an answer that demonstrates that you care about your career and that you have put thought into your career path.

Your answer needs to include something specific that you’re looking for in a new position. Moreover, interviewers are specifically looking for you to highlight aspects of their job opening and why you want to work for them.

Example answer to ‘Why are you interested in this position?’

‘I’ve been working as a senior marketer and team manager for 4 years now, but I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to take on more leadership responsibility. When I came across this position and read the job description, I noticed the emphasis on leadership and marketing project management skills. As soon as I read the description, I felt like this is a great fit for me.

I’m eager to combine my marketing experience with my developed team management skills, and this position perfectly aligns with my career goals. The opportunity would allow me to train my own team, which is a challenge I’m very excited about. Could you please tell me more about what you’re looking for in your ideal candidate for this position?’

  1. What are you looking for in your next job?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

Hiring managers ask this question to assess whether or not you’re the best fit for the position. For example, if your answer does not match the requirements for the position you’re interviewing for, you will probably not advance to the next interview rounds.

When hiring new personnel, employers always look for whether or not you’ll be a good long-term addition to the company. They want to know if you are planning to stay and grow with their organization or if your career goals are likely to take you to another employer within a few years.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer wants to hear if and why your career goals are a great match for the company. Furthermore, they want to hear from you about how your skills, experience, and abilities make you the right candidate for the position that you applied for.

Example answer to ‘What are you looking for in your next job?’

‘Over the past four years, I’ve developed several essential skills to be successful as an online marketer in the digital industry – including project management skills, communication, customer service, programming, and web design.

When I came across your job opening, I immediately saw that this opportunity would be a great fit for me. As a senior marketer at your company, I would be able to not only apply my skills and experience but also develop them further to become an expert in the field of marketing.

I’m confident that I have the required skills to successfully perform the job. Furthermore, I believe that this position provides the challenge that I’m looking for in taking the next step in my career.’

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

Interviewers are interested in your career goals for a couple of reasons. One reason is that they want to know if you plan on staying with the organization for a while. If you’re likely to leave if you get another opportunity or if you see the job as temporary, you might not be what the interviewers look for.

Another reason to discuss your career goals is to see if you have a career plan and how you plan on developing yourself. Your answer should give the interviewer an understanding of your professional goals. Furthermore, it should demonstrate that your expectations of the position match what the company can offer you.

Learn more about career goal interview questions and find more information on how you can define and set career goals.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Your answer should demonstrate what your short-term goals are and how you can accomplish them by working for the organization where you’re applying for a position. Interviewers are looking for you to show how your goals align with what the company is looking for and what they can offer you.

Example answer to ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’

‘In the next years, I would really like to work as a marketing representative for an organization like yours. I’m excited to work for such a strong brand that is known for its creative and innovative marketing strategies. Starting as a marketing representative will help me to develop myself and gain the needed knowledge of service, support, and solutions that the organization offers.

My main goal is to work my way up from a marketing representative to eventually become a team leader. I feel like the position, and the learning and development program are the perfect opportunities for me to prepare myself to grow into your organization.’

  1. What motivates you?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

Just like the questions discussed earlier, the main goal of this question is to assess whether or not you fit the position and company. Also, they are really interested in what actually makes you tick in your work. In other words, what drives you? In which environments do you thrive? Ultimately, they will compare your answers to what they can offer you to see if there is a match.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer is looking to get an insight into your personality and who you are as a professional. Furthermore, they want to see what drives you and your determination to succeed.

Example answer to ‘What motivates you?’

‘ I get highly motivated when it comes to problem-solving tasks and challenging myself to keep improving my job performance. This is also what drove me to become a data scientist in the first place. I’m really driven by results, and working with big data is the perfect challenge for me to stay motivated.

Working as a data scientist forced me to develop new skills such as coding, but also creative thinking and problem-solving. My drive to constantly develop these skills while structuring unstructured data continues to keep me motivated. I love what I do, and it’s what I want to keep doing throughout my career.’

  1. Why are you the best candidate for the job? Why should we hire you?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

This is a very direct question that can scare some candidates. However, it should be viewed as an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you did your research and know why you’re qualified. The interviewer wants you to explain why you think that you have the ability to successfully perform the job if you get hired.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

In your answer, it’s important that you match your qualifications with the job requirements. Also, don’t just say that you are qualified; show it. This question is perfect for you to focus on your uniqueness and any extra qualities you possess that can help you contribute to the company.

Example answer to ‘Why are you the best candidate for the job? Why should we hire you?’

‘When I went through the job description for this position, I knew that this would be a perfect match. My commercial skills and management experience perfectly align with what you’re looking for. I’m confident that my experience and abilities will help me successfully perform the project management position.

I have effectively led teams for over five years, and in the last two years, my region earned the region of the year title back to back. Besides my background in successfully leading team projects, my networking skills helped me develop great relationships with clients, developers, and vendors.

My professional experiences, coupled with my good communication skills, work ethic, and friendly attitude, makes me a perfect fit for the job. I have the experience to start contributing to your team from day one. Needless to say, I’m very excited about the prospect of starting in your organization.’

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

The reason why the interviewer asks this question

To make a great impression during any job interview, you need to ask smart questions back. Interviewers know, just like you should know, that interviews are supposed to be a two-way street. This means that the interviewer wants to ask you questions to get to know you and learn about your skills. But it also means that you should use the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions about the position,

What the interviewer is looking for in your questions

Interviewers look for candidates who ask smart questions back. Smart questions, in this case, means not asking something that you could have know based on your own research or something that has already been discussed in the call.

An important aspect of asking questions is that it’s a key opportunity to further highlight your skills, qualities, and experience. Take advantage of this opportunity and show that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Example questions you can ask the interviewer during a phone interview

Below you can find some example questions to ask the interviewer. However, these are general examples. Make sure you do your research the right way and find smart questions to ask.

  1. What do the day-to-day responsibilities of this position look like?
  2. How does success gets measured in this particular role, and how often are employees evaluated?
  3. Which programs does the company use to manage workflows and communication processes?
  4. What is your favorite part about working at this company?
  5. How many people work in this office (or department)?
  6. What do you see as the most challenging part of this position?
  7. What are the company’s plans for growth and development?
  8. With whom will I be working most closely in this position?
  9. What can you tell me about the position that is not described in the job description?
  10. What is the company’s (or team’s) biggest struggle at this moment?
  11. How does this company encourage continued learning and development opportunities?
  12. What is the toughest part of this job?

Learn more about smart questions to ask the interviewer & what NOT to ask.

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article outlines why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic