7 Common Phone Interview Questions (And How to Answer Them)

 


KEY POINTS 

  • Phone interviews are generally used as an initial screening tool by recruiters and hiring managers 
  • General questions are usually asked, however, sometimes questions specific to the job you are applying to can be asked 
  • Even though the questions on a phone interview are basic, it’s still a good idea to be prepared and think about how you are going to answer them  

 

It’s understandable why virtual interviews are more popular now – we don't have much of a choice because of COVID-19. But what about phone interviews? Even before the pandemic, every so often you get a recruiter or hiring manager asking you if you’re free for a few minutes for a phone interview. Why? 

Phone interviews are usually the first step in the recruitment process of many companies. Phone interviews allow recruiters or hiring managers to narrow down their long list of candidates quickly. It’s a type of screening interview for them to validate your qualifications and to see if you are serious about applying. There’s nothing more annoying than a no-show candidate and a phone interview can help filter out serious candidates. 

 

LEARN MORE: How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview 

  

What questions are asked during a phone interview? 

Most of the time, phone interview questions are high-level or “basic”. They are generic questions that interviewers ask all the candidates.  

BUT, there is a chance they’ll ask very specific questions unique to the role that you are applying to. To avoid any surprises and unexpected curveballs, here are some of the most common phone interview questions recruiters and hiring managers love to ask and how to answer them. 

 

How did you find this job?   

  • Simply tell them where you found the job – through a job board, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. 
  • If you found the job through a referral, be sure to let your interviewer know 
  • Add on quickly what made you want to apply 

 

Sample answer: I heard about this opening from my friend. I’ve been following your company for a while and what you do has always interested me, so I decided to apply. 

 

Let’s go over your resume  

  • Focus on your skills and experiences relevant to the role you are applying for 
  • Talk about what you are currently doing, what you’ve done in the past, and explain what you hope to do in the future (this should connect to why you’re applying to that role in the first place) 

 

Sample answer: I am currently working as an editor for [name of company] where I [explain what you do]. Prior to that, I worked as a writer for 5 years with [name of company/companies]. I feel like I'm on the next step in my career which is why I am looking for jobs as an editor-in-chief. My combined work experience and all the skills I've learnt as a writer and editor are what make me ready for the new role I am looking for. 

 

Describe your current role 

  • Be specific – don't just explain what you do. Explain how what you do contributes to the goals of the organization, your team, or even yourself. Give numbers if you can. 
  • Explain how your role makes operations or the business more effective or more efficient 
  • Highlight the skills relevant to the job you are applying to, mention the skills you’ve learnt through the role, and how it has made you an asset to your company 

 

Sample answer: I am currently working as the social media manager. I was able to double our engagement rate which increased our conversions by x% in the past year through the different marketing strategies I used. I also created a new communication channel to make responding to our customers more efficient. I learnt how to use data analytics tool such as [give examples] to help our business come up with better, and more effective strategies moving forward. 

 

Have you heard about our company?  

  • Be sure you did your research about the company before the interview 
  • Pick one or two qualities or values of their company that you can relate to, understand, or even admire and appreciate. It can be related to their mission/vision, products, their brand, office, or even their company culture. 

 

Sample answer: I have seen your posts and posts about your company on social media. I especially enjoy browsing through your Instagram page because it gave me an idea of what your company culture is like. I admire how you value freedom and openness, and that your office looks so fun and modern! 

 

LEARN MORE: 5 Things You Need to Know About The Company 

 

Why are you leaving your current job? 

  • This question secretly reveals a lot about your work ethic and attitude 
  • In case you were fired, give the reason quickly but focus on what you’ve learnt and how it made you a better and stronger employee 
  • If you are moving because you are unhappy with your role, you colleagues, or your boss, avoid bad mouthing them (and your company). Focus instead on what you are looking forward to with the new role 

 

Sample answer: I’ve been working as a senior full stack developer for a couple of years now but I feel it’s time for me to grow more. I want to be able to apply my skills into a bigger role and develop my skills further and I believe this job will give me the opportunity to do so. 

 

What is your asking salary (and why)? 

  • This is asked so recruiters/hiring managers can see if your asking salary will fit in their budget. Sometimes, they will tell you what their budget is so you can decide whether you are willing to push through with your application based on the salary alone. 
  • Do research beforehand on what the general salary range is for the role you can apply to. You can do a Google search or check out Recruitday’s Career Guide, which lists the average salary range for in-demand roles. 
  • After gathering research, see where you fit in based on your education and experience. 
  • When you are asked the question and how you came up with that number, explain how your ideal salary is x-amount based on the data you’ve gathered, your experience, and based on the market. 
  • However, if this question isn’t asked during the initial phone interview, don’t bring it up yet. 

 

Sample answer: My asking salary would be [amount]. This is because I have been working as [role] for [number of years], giving me the necessary experience. Based on research I've done on the current market, my asking salary falls within the range of what is usually offered for this role. 

 

When can you start? 

  • If you are currently working, consider how much time you need to do a proper turnover and all your clearances. Usually, the time companies ask for is 30 days, but in some cases, it may require longer (or shorter).  
  • Check your calendar as well if you have other commitments, projects you need to close, or even a vacation planned 
  • If you’re not working, tell them you can start whenever you are needed 
  • Let them know how many days or weeks after getting an offer you can work, or give an exact date if you can. 

 

Sample answer: I still have a few projects I need to complete and files to turn over so I will need about 5 weeks after getting an offer.  

 

Phone interviews are generally used by recruiters and hiring managers as screening tools, however with our current situation, it might become part of the new normal. Video calls are now also the main choice of interviewing candidates for a position. 

If you have a video interview coming up, you can read this article for tips on how to succeed with it. Whether your interviews are through the phone or video calls, always prepare beforehand so you can put your best self forward and land your dream job.