Top 9 Phone Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When a recruiter likes your CV and cover letter, they might call you to conduct a quick phone interview. This screening procedure allows an employer to determine whether they want to spend more time and effort on your job application. Learning about common phone interview questions and how to answer them can help you secure a formal face-to-face interview to further your candidacy. In this article, we describe what a phone interview is and list the top nine phone interview questions with example answers for each.

Related: Interviewing Skills To Ace a Job Interview

What are phone interview questions?

A phone interview is a casual conversation between you and a recruiter over the phone. Usually, this is the first step in the interview process, and it's often a positive sign that the recruiter might be interested in considering you for the job. Often companies conduct phone interviews to screen out the most promising job candidates. They use this format to verify any claims you have made on your CV and to learn about your current circumstances.

Rather than in-depth high-level questions, recruiters tend to ask more general questions as the purpose of a phone interview is to get to know your personality and whether you meet the necessary requirements for the job. Passing this stage could give you the chance to meet them in person so that you can further elaborate on your qualifications and experience. Thus, it's important to build your phone interview skills well in advance.

Related: The 5 Steps of the Job Interview Process: A Detailed Guide

9 questions for phone interviews

Since you might receive a phone interview without prior notice, it's important to prepare answers to the most common questions in a phone interview. That way, you're more likely to feel calm and confident when talking to a recruiter over the phone. Here's a list of the top nine phone interview questions with sample answers for your reference:

1. Tell me about yourself.

At the start of a phone interview, the recruiter might ask you to share a little about your background so that they can form their first impression of you. Since they already have a copy of your CV, try to summarise its contents and share something memorable about yourself, such as any notable accolades you have received. Remember that a phone interview is a quick conversation, so try to keep your answers short and concise.

Example: “I am results-oriented, constantly checking in with the goal to determine how close or how far away we are and what it will take to make it happen. I find this pressure inspiring and a great motivator for the rest of the team. In fact, over the past year, I was able to help my team shorten our average product time to market by two weeks.”

2. Why are you applying for this position?

When you answer this question, it's important to convince the recruiter to invest time in exploring your candidacy. Share your passion for the role and relate it to your career ambitions. The more personal you make this answer, the more genuine and compelling you may seem. Try to show your knowledge of the company through whatever little research you have done on them previously.

Example: “I've been working for several years on gaining skills in your industry. I feel I have the knowledge, skills and qualifications you're looking for, along with a unique perspective coming from a different industry. I am passionate about working in the environmental protection space, and it's time for me to make a change. I feel your company is the perfect place for me to do that.”

3. Why do you want to work here?

This question seeks to test your knowledge of the company's operations, values and future goals. Since a phone interview can occur with no prior notice, it's important to try to recall whatever you can from your previous research on the company, as it shows your genuine interest in working for them. In your answer, show that you align with their values and talk about any interesting projects you would like to contribute to. The more knowledgeable you appear, the more impressive you may seem.

Example: “After building my career managing hospitality staff, it has been my ultimate goal to work for a hotel that not only values the growth and achievement of their employees but also maintains an exquisite, affordable experience for their guests. Your company continues to set precedence for quality service and experience, and I am looking for a career working towards that kind of mission.”

4. Why are you looking for jobs?

This screening question is a way for recruiters to determine your goals for the new position and the manner in which you left your previous job. When talking about your previous employer, maintain a professional tone. When sharing your career ambitions, discuss how the position can help you gain more skills and experience to achieve your aspirations.

Example: “I'm looking for opportunities to start my career as a project coordinator. Working as an executive assistant has given me abundant experience in managing and organising schedules, so I'm ready to take the next step in my career. I feel especially qualified for this particular position because I've worked in the retail industry in my last two administrative roles.”

5. Tell me what you know about the role.

This question seeks to test your understanding of the job description and the job duties it states. This way, the recruiter can determine whether you have a good understanding of the demands and expectations and can perform the mentioned duties competently. It's also a great opportunity to ask the interviewer questions about the role to clarify any confusing details.

Example: "From the job description, I understand that you're looking for a bookkeeper to provide support to the department's financial activities primarily related to Accounts Payable and Procurement. I also understand that you require HIPAA compliance training, for which I am certified. It sounds like many of the daily tasks include processing vendor creation, journals, check requests, wire transfers and invoice for payments.”

6. Describe your current job responsibilities.

When an interviewer asks this question, they want to know whether there's any overlap between your current role and the role you're interviewing for and whether you can bring any transferrable skills to the job. The key to an excellent answer to this question is to present yourself as a capable and reliable professional. When you illustrate your confidence to carry out your responsibilities independently, recruiters are more likely to trust your ability, too.

Example: “I noticed that the parts of my previous positions I enjoyed the most were those that aligned with what's listed in your job description, like creative writing and building relationships with stakeholders. While I am grateful for my time at my current company, I feel that it's time to move into a role more tailored to my talents where I can continue to grow as a PR professional.”

7. What is your management style?

Leaders shape the people, products and profitability of a business. Thus, if you're applying for a management role, it's important to convey that you can handle any given authority with care. When discussing your leadership style, share your management philosophy, your ability to motivate other team members and your determination to navigate through challenges. If you have time, try to use examples of your success as a leader to make your answer seem more credible.

Example: “While I'm flexible in working with many different personality types, I've found that the management style I thrive most under is both trusting and involved. While I don't like to feel micromanaged, I do very much enjoy quality one-on-one time on a regular basis to brainstorm ideas for the projects I'm working on and how I can do better in my role.”

8. Do you have experience with ...

When a recruiter has a specific requirement, they may ask about your experience with a particular technical skill. This is especially common in professions that require a high level of expertise and experience, such as accounting, computer programming, medicine or law. If you're competent in the skill, give examples of your experience with it in previous jobs. However, if you aren't, be honest and share your commitment to your personal development goals.

Example: “I have experience with multiple programming languages. In my five years of experience as a website designer, I have developed knowledge of various coding systems. This has helped me create more interactive and engaging products for users all over the globe."

Related: The 5 Steps of the Job Interview Process: A Detailed Guide

9. What are your salary expectations?

When an employer has a tight budget for their advertised role, they may ask about your salary expectations to sort through candidates that exceed their budget requirements or those that have too unrealistic expectations. Thus, it's important to research the average salary of your position in advance to come up with a figure that your potential employer can work with. Remember to avoid quoting an exact figure so that you allow room for negotiation.

Example: “For this position, my ideal salary would fall in the range of $55,000 to $65,000. I feel this is an appropriate amount for my experience level in this position.”

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