Phone interview questions present a whole new set of challenges. Although they require the same preparation as in-person interview questions do, they come with their own set of rules and tricks. After all, you can’t rely on body language, eye contact, and many other non-verbal aspects you would use during a standard interview. So, if you’re stressed about how you should answer the most common phone interview questions, try implementing the tips below.
Preparing for a phone interview
Generally, the interviewers are looking for basic information during the phone interview. For example, they may ask questions about your background to decide whether to invite you to an in-person interview. Essentially, you should be ready to answer common questions about yourself and your career.
And while each employer has different phone interview questions, there are some popular ones that you might hear often. To prepare for your phone interview and find out how to answer the most common interview questions, keep reading.
The most common phone interview questions
1. How did you find out about this job?
2. Why did you leave your last job?
3. Tell me about yourself
4. What is your greatest weakness?
5. What is your greatest strength?
6. What do you do in your current role?
7. What were your responsibilities in your past jobs?
8. What major challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
9. What do you know about our company?
10. What attracted you to this role and company?
11. What type of management style do you prefer?
12. What makes you the ideal candidate?
13. What is your motivation?
14. What are your salary expectations?
15. Do you have any questions?
Question #1: How did you find out about this job?
Hiring managers ask this question to understand what made you apply to this particular position and to help refine the recruiting process. This question can be especially helpful if you found the job in a unique way, like through a friend.
“I found out about this job through a combination of online job boards and networking. I regularly browse job boards and came across the listing for this position on a prominent job search website. Additionally, I have a strong professional network, and a colleague of mine who works in the same industry informed me about the opening and encouraged me to apply.
Question #2: Why did you leave your last job?
This is one of the most common phone interview questions you should be ready to answer. While this question may seem daunting, the interviewer is, in fact, only looking to learn about your attitude and character. After all, the way you talk about your previous job can reveal a lot about your work ethic and personality. Remember to be honest and professional, even if you were laid off or fired.
“I left my previous job because I was seeking new challenges and opportunities for growth. While I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot, I felt that I had reached a point where I needed a new environment to further develop my skills and contribute to a different organization.”
Question #3: Tell me about yourself
By asking this question, the interviewer can learn more about you and your background. Especially if the interviewer has little knowledge of your field, this can help them understand what makes you a good fit for the position. Apart from that, it can help them connect the dots between your resume and the job.
“Sure! I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and have been working as a software engineer for 10 years. I specialize in front-end development and have experience with various programming languages and frameworks. In my previous role, I led a team of developers and successfully delivered several projects on time and within budget.”
Question #4: What is your greatest weakness?
Often considered one of the trickiest phone interview questions, this can be daunting for many job applicants. You need to be honest but also avoid casting doubts on your abilities. The interviewer wants to determine whether you are qualified for the job and can take on new challenges.
“I used to have difficulty delegating tasks because I had a strong desire to ensure that everything was done flawlessly. However, I have learned the importance of trusting my team members and distributing responsibilities based on their strengths. I now actively seek opportunities to delegate tasks and empower my colleagues.”
Question #5: What is your greatest strength?
While much more comfortable than the previous question, this question can still be tricky. You don’t want to be too humble and undervalue yourself. On the other hand, you also want to avoid bragging or highlighting irrelevant strengths. For a relevant answer, focus on strengths aligning with the requirements of the role and the company.
“What sets me apart is my proficiency in fostering effective communication and collaboration among team members. I believe that clear and open communication is essential for successful project execution. Additionally, I am highly organized and detail-oriented, which helps me stay focused and deliver high-quality work.”
Question #6: What do you do in your current role?
Much like telling the interviewer about yourself, this phone interview question provides an understanding of your skills and qualifications. Apart from that, it also demonstrates that you are a valuable addition to the team and know your worth.
Rather than explaining your daily tasks, focus on the impact these have. Are your skills unique and invaluable to the company? Do you contribute towards the departmental and company goals daily? Have you developed a new, more efficient way of performing everyday tasks?
Question #7: What were your responsibilities in your past jobs?
Unlike the previous question, here, the interviewer wants to hear about your day-to-day tasks. They want to find out the specifics of your responsibilities in your past roles.
When answering, don’t list your daily responsibilities without context. Instead, describe your essential tasks and link them to the position you are applying for. To do this, start by reading through the description of the position you are applying to. Find the job’s responsibilities, then identify when you have performed these before and why you were successful. Remember to be engaging when presenting your duties. Most importantly, avoid repeating your resume word for word.
Question #8: What major challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
When an interviewer asks this question, they want to find out if you can solve problems, think critically, and perform under stress. Moreover, they want to know what your approach to challenges is.
While some people take a methodological, planned approach, others may prefer to face the challenge head-on and dive into the solution. To give a thoughtful, relevant answer, think back to the challenges you have faced in the past. What is one problem you solved? Think about significant professional challenges and why you consider them successfully solved. Then, explain how you overcame them. Finally, highlight what you learned from the experience.
Question #9: What do you know about our company?
While anyone can apply to an online job posting, only a passionate candidate will do the research. By asking this phone interview question, the interviewer can find out how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity. After all, the ideal candidate should be interested in the company and its values. This is one of the most popular phone interview questions, and you should pay attention to responding thoughtfully.
“Based on my research, I understand that your company is a leading provider of [insert industry or products/services]. You have a strong reputation for [mention a key value or differentiating factor]. I was particularly impressed by [highlight a recent achievement or initiative]. I believe that your focus on [specific aspect] aligns well with my skills and interests. I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to such a dynamic and innovative organization.”
Question #10: What attracted you to this role and company?
Much like the previous question, interviewers want to see that you are passionate about the position. They want to know that you have done your research and care about their values.
Think about what attracted you to the position when answering. Beyond the benefits or salary, what made you apply to that particular job? If you’re not sure, go through the company website again. Then, find things that resonate with you and align with your goals and career trajectory. In your answer, explain how the role and company align with your professional goals as well as your qualifications and interests.
Question #11: What type of management style do you prefer?
By asking this phone interview question, the recruiter can easily spot if you are the right fit for the team. Employees must work well with the manager if the department and the company are to succeed. Also, you don’t want to be stuck with a manager you don’t get along with. For example, some managers like to be hands-on in their work and micromanage their team. So, if a candidate says they enjoy working independently, the interviewer will know this could be a problem.
Your answer won’t always sway the recruiter’s decision, so you should be honest rather than saying what you think they would want to hear. If you can’t think of an answer, reflect on your past managers that you enjoyed working with. What was their management style? Why did you like working with them? Above all, avoid any negativity or badmouthing your past managers when answering.
Question #12: What makes you the ideal candidate?
The interviewer may have a long list of applicants who fit the position on paper. But, they want to find the ones who stand out, and this question helps them achieve that.
This question is your chance to showcase why you would make an invaluable addition to the team. Take this opportunity to highlight your best, most unique qualities. This about your past experiences, skills, determination, values, or passion. What is one thing you can provide that no one else can?
Question #13: What is your motivation?
When an interviewer asks you this question, they want to gain insight into why and how you stay motivated to perform well in the workplace. Moreover, your answer can give them valuable information about your values and how they align with those of the company.
Your answer should be honest and reflect on what you are passionate about. What do you look forward to when going to work? What happens at work that makes you feel enthusiastic and excited? Once you find out why you are passionate about your job, you can then connect this to the company’s values.
Question #14: What are your salary expectations?
This phone interview question helps employers cut out candidates who are out of the company’s budget. Interviewers will often ask this question upfront to avoid disagreements over salary later on.
Doing your research is the best way to ensure your answer will be relevant and reasonable. First, find out the average salary for similar positions in your area. Then, consider your experience and education, and find a salary range that corresponds with it. This way, you will be able to give the interviewer an accurate range and back it up with research.
Most importantly, remember not to bring up salary unless the interviewer does so. Even then, if you are in the early stages of the hiring process, you can give a vague answer and only provide a specific number or range later on.
Question #15: Do you have any questions?
Remember that an interview should flow like a conversation. After all, you want to make sure you are the right fit for the job as much as the interviewer does. By asking this phone interview question, the interviewer is allowing you to do just that.
However, the questions you ask also say a lot about you and your values, so make sure you choose relevant and tailored ones for the company. Prepare questions in advance, but also write down questions you think of during the interview. This will show that you prepared for the interview, but also that you pay attention.
Phone Interview Questions to Ask the Interviewer
When conducting a phone interview, it’s important to ask thoughtful questions to the interviewer. Here are some examples of questions you can ask:
- What does a typical day or week look like in this role? This question helps you gain a better understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities and expectations of the position.
- What are the career opportunities for this position within the company? Asking about career growth and advancement opportunities shows your long-term interest in the company and your desire to grow professionally.
- How would you define success in this role? This question allows you to understand the key performance indicators and expectations for the position, giving you insight into what the company values in their employees.
- What are the main objectives or goals for someone in this position? By asking about the objectives or goals, you can gain a clearer understanding of what the company expects from the role and how your skills align with those expectations.
- Can you tell me about the team or department I would be working with? This question helps you understand the dynamics of the team and the collaborative environment within the company. It also shows your interest in working well with others.