Often, you may be asked to partake in a phone interview before an in-person interview. If you’re applying for remote positions, you may only participate in phone interviews. Either way, phone interviews are just as important as in-person interviews and require the same preparation. Phone interviews are impersonal, and you can’t rely on body language to get your feelings across. Making a good first impression can thus be more complicated. The best approach to phone interviews is to prepare in advance.
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.
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.
When answering this question, tell the interviewer where you found the job listing and why you chose to apply. For example, you may say, “My friend, [Name], told me about an opening in the sales department. Because I have been following your work for a while, I decided 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.
If that is the case, saying, “I was let go because [reason]” is enough. Then, you can move on to say how this has made you a better employee. If you have other reasons, ensure you stay professional and focus on the future in your answer. Most importantly, avoid badmouthing your past employer or job. To answer this question, you can say, “I have been working in sales for over five years, and I loved my past job. But, I would love to grow by applying my knowledge to a new field. I believe working in the automotive industry would be a great opportunity for me to do so.”
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.
In your answer, focus on what is relevant to the role at hand. Essentially, highlight the skills and qualifications that are most applicable to the position. Start by explaining who you are and what you do now. Then, expand on your career past, and end your answer by stating what you’d like to do in the future.
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.
The key to answering this question is to frame your answer positively. To avoid decreasing your chances of landing the job, choose a shortcoming that isn’t essential to success. Admit your weakness and end your answer by stating how you are working to improve it. Turning a negative into a positive will show that you are self-aware and motivated to improve.
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.
The best way to answer this question is by making a list of both your soft and hard skills. Then, pick those that align with the job description. Finally, select three that you are most confident in, and think of examples of how you used these strengths to succeed in your past jobs.
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.
When answering, pick one or two aspects that resonate with you. For example, explain why their mission or their company culture aligns with your values and why you admire them. You can answer like this: “I’ve been reading your online publications for years. I admire your mission to make marketing social and interactive and step away from the old standards. Your publications helped me develop meaningful relationships with clients, and I would love to help more people do the same.”
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
Don’t let the chance to find out more about the company and the role pass you by. When the interviewer gives you space to ask questions, have at least three thoughtful questions ready. If you can’t think of any, here are five examples of things you can ask at the end of your phone interview:
- What are the day-to-day tasks of this job?
- What are the expectations of this position in the first 30/60/90?
- What characteristics would make one successful in this role?
- Can you tell me about the company’s values? Are there any traits you look for in employees to reflect these values?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
Remember that the best way to succeed in a phone interview is to prepare beforehand. Doing your research and practicing will help you relax and respond with confidence. Regardless of whether your phone interview is just a screening call or your only interview, you want to make the best impression possible. By reviewing these phone interview questions and preparing your answers, you will stand out from the sea of applicants and boost your landing chances.