Sunday, April 21, 2024

How To Do A Good Phone Interview

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A preliminary phone interview is a great tool that will help you streamline your hiring process. This is simply because they require a lot less time on everyone’s part. There’s no commuting and no scrambling to find a quiet space for the conversation.

In 15 minutes you can check to see that the applicant understands the job, meets the basic job description, and has reasonable salary expectations. You can also do a quick probe of any resume gaps and roles that didn’t last long.

If you’re trying to keep your job interviews to a reasonable length – say 15 minutes – you’ll need to pare it down to some essential job interview questions that give you the most useful answers.

Remember, you’ll probably spend a little over two minutes with introductions, and the same winding down. So realistically you’ve got about 10 minutes for questions. With that in mind, you’ve got no time for common interview questions about their greatest strength and weakness.

Most of the sample phone interview questions we see are so broad they rarely give you any valuable insight into the candidates fit for the role. You need the tough questions that get right down to business and provide useful answers to your telephone interview questions.

Below we detail all the best questions to ask during a phone interview and provide phone interview questions and answers.

Can You Tell Me About A Time Where You Had To Overcome An Obstacle

At some point, every professional encounters an obstacle. Hiring managers want to know that youll admit youve faced challenges and that you have the ability to overcome them.


In my last position, I was working on a project that was in jeopardy of missing the deadline. A team member was behind on their tasks, creating a bottleneck that impacted the rest of us. Instead of sitting back, I reached out to my colleague and asked if I could help them catch up. We discussed the trouble they were facing and created a plan that allowed us to get back on track. It took a substantial amount of effort, but was ultimately worth it since the project ended up as a success.

Research The Company And Show What You Know

Do your homework and research the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question, “What do you know about this company?” If this question is not asked, you should try to demonstrate what you know about the company on your own.

You can do this by tying what youve learned about the company into your responses. For example, you might say:

I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well-versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.

You should be able to find out a lot of information about the companys history, mission and values, staff, culture, and recent successes on its website. If the company has a blog and a social media presence, they can be useful places to look, too.

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You Havent Heard Back In Awhile

Another sign of a bad phone interview is radio silence from the company. While its not considerate, depending on the number of applicants, some companies cant get back to all the candidates that didnt make the cut. This can be frustrating as a candidate, but you can work to prevent it from happening.

How to Improve: At the end of the interview, always ask for a post-interview timeline. Most hiring managers are willing to give you a timeframe. In addition, send a follow-up email after the interview if you dont hear back within the given timeframe.

Prepare Your Own Cheat Sheet

Get Some Great Phone Interview Tips

Like all good interviews, its not just about answering questions, but asking the right ones as well.

The right questions not only help you get information you might need to make an informed decision regarding the job, but it also helps confirm your qualifications as the ideal candidate for the position.

Ask about the different aspects of the job and express genuine interest and excitement in the opportunity.

Take the time to make sure that this is the organization you want to work foritll save you a ton of heartache and headaches in the long run.

Dont be afraid to dig for more details about the position and the company.

Ask questions about the job that werent covered in the job postingask about specifics and get details.

You need to know exactly what youre getting into before you say yes to the job

Make sure you prepare your own list of questions before you start. Make sure your questions are thoughtful and have a purpose.

Need some examples to use or ideas to kick start your own list? Check out our Top 14 Questions to Ask In An Interview blog post.

Remember though to keep these questions short and sweet. Again, remember, Its not about you, its about them. How can you fulfill their needs?

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The Interview Was Shorter Than Expected

If you had an hour booked in your calendar, but the interview ends rather quickly, its a sign that the interviewer didnt think you were a good fit. Common reasons that an interviewer may be unimpressed include a candidates lack of knowledge about the role or company, unsatisfactory answers to common interview questions or a lack of relevant work experience.

How to Improve: Conduct extensive research about the company you are interviewing with. A little research on their website and LinkedIn profile can be telling as to what theyre looking for in a candidate.

Upgrade Your Interview Performance With Interviewfocus

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Questions About Your Background

It’s important to be able to describe your education and work experience in a way that persuasively demonstrates your strengths as a candidate. Take the time to match your qualifications to the job description and show the hiring manager why you’re a perfect fit for the position.

  • What were your responsibilities? – Best Answers
  • What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them? – Best Answers
  • Why are you leaving your job? – Best Answers
  • What are your salary expectations? – Best Answers

Find A Quiet Spot To Interview

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The nice thing about phone interviews is that you dont need to worry about the interviewer judging you on your appearance. The bad news? Theyre definitely evaluating you on your ability to find a quiet spot to interview.

We get it. Its not your fault that your dog randomly barks at cars or that your roommate likes to blast extremely loud death metal. But a noisy background is super distracting and can make it difficult for both you and the interviewer to connect with each other.

To reduce potential distractions, let everyone in your household know about the interview in advance and remind them again right before the interview is scheduled to begin. Pick a quiet room that is located away from the kitchen, the media room, and other noisy areas. Then, lock yourself in the room so nobody barges in during the interview.

If youre still worried about potential noise, you can also sit in your car on a quiet street or book a conference room. Just be sure to scope out your options in advance so youre not scrambling for a better location at the last minute.

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Know Who Will Be Calling You

In many cases, youll be interviewing a recruiter, hiring manager or your direct supervisor. Do an online search to determine your interviewers role at the company. If youre interviewing with a recruiter, youll get more general questions regarding your experience. An interview with your direct supervisor, however, means youll get in-depth questions related to your industry and role.

Preparing For A Phone Interview

Usually, during phone interviews, employers are seeking general, high-level information about you and your background to see if they should advance you to the next step in the hiring process. You should be prepared to talk about why youre looking for a job, why youre interested in this specific job and company, and your background.

Each employer has a different set of questions for phone interviews, but there are several commonly asked questions. Below are several phone interview example questions and answers you can use as inspiration when preparing for your interview.

Image description

  • Why are you applying for this position?

  • Why do you want this job?

  • Tell me what you know about the role

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • Why are you looking for jobs?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • What are your salary expectations?

  • Are you interviewing with other companies?

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And You Should Still Dress Up

If youre in between jobs and taking a phone interview at home, the temptation to stay in your PJs or favorite ~athleisure~ garb is real. After all, we want to feel comfortable during an interview, dont we? So doesnt wearing our favorite t-shirt and Nike leggings make sense?

Well, perhaps it makes sense on the surface level, but in reality, this practice is all wrong. More than anything, you need to have confidence during an interview, and its a little difficult to feel like your most high-achieving, high-powered self when your unwashed hair is in a messy bun and youre still rocking your nightwear. So, shower, fix your hair, put on a little makeup , and dress as though you were headed to an in-person interview. Its crazy the impact a button-down shirt versus a t-shirt can have on your attitude!

Introducing Your Website In Your Phone Interview

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Once youve been able to set up your site, this is how you bring it up in a phone interview

Traditionally, near the end of the interview the hiring manager will say something like, Is there anything else that you want me to know that we havent covered in this interview?

Now is your chance!

Id love you to check out my personal website It will give you a great idea of the work I have accomplished, the experiences Ive had and most importantly, the type of person youll be getting if you decide to hire me for this position.

In doing this you will not only give the hiring manager a much more engaging and interesting experience, but youll also show what an intelligent, dedicated and forward-thinking individual you are.

Sounds like someone I would want to hire!

So there you have it! If you follow the tips above , you can almost guarantee to have the interviewer eating out of your hand even if they arent in the same room as you.

Once thats all done and youve hit send on that thank you note, reward yourself for an interview well done!

And yes, now that youve knocked that phone interview out of the ballpark and youre confident in your tailored answers and thoughtful questionsgo ahead and put those Scooby Doo flannels back on!

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Confirm The Scheduled Time

Before the day of your interview, confirm the date and time so youre sure to pick up when the call comes in. Writing down the scheduled time, adding it to your calendar or setting it as a reminder on your phone are great ways to make sure you are ready for the scheduled interview. Your punctuality can help make a good impression on your prospective employer.

What Type Of Work Environment Do You Prefer

Employers want to make sure that your personality is a fit for their work environment. This is different than determining if your skills are a fit for their job.

So after some of the competency-based questions in the interview, theyll likely ask about how you prefer to work, types of companies/environments youve enjoyed in the past, etc.

To answer, you can either describe an environment that you feel is similar to theirs, or demonstrate that you can work well in a variety of environments.

For more help with this, read our guide to answering what type of work environment do you prefer?

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Select A Candidate And Follow Up With All Applicants

This is an important step, even though it comes last. Once you decide which candidate to hire, notify the chosen candidate to inform them. Also, thank the other applicants interviewed and let them know the outcome. Getting back to candidates even when they didnt get the job can help establish or grow an organizations reputation. Consider using multiple contact methods, like email and phone, to make sure all candidates receive notice.

Be An Active Listener

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Be attentive, ask insightful questions and engage with the recruiter. This will show that youre taking the interview seriously and that you genuinely care about what they have to say. Practicing with friends or family could be greatly beneficial. Make sure youre listening to every word, and follow-up with questions that show you were actively listening to what they were saying.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

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What Other Jobs Have You Been Interviewing For

Heres why employers ask this: They want to make sure their job fits the general theme of what youre looking for.

Your answer is only going to worry them or raise a red flag if all the other jobs youre applying for are WAY different than this job.

So to give a great answer here, show the employer that their job fits the overall theme of other jobs youre looking at.

And if they do ask for company names, you can refuse by saying, Id like to keep the names of the other companies confidential. Id do the same for your company if another interviewer asked me.

See examples below or read our guide to answers for what other companies are you interviewing with?

Sample answer:

Ive been applying and interviewing at small and mid-sized banks and financial firms like yours. I spent the first 4 years of my career with Bank of America, so Im hoping to experience a smaller work environment now to round-out my skill set. Id like to keep the names of the other companies confidential, though. Id do the same for your company if another employer were to ask me.

What Do You Know About Our Company

With this question, you want to show off your knowledge and demonstrate that you did research before applying for the job.

Employers dont want to hire someone whos just applying to every job, and not taking the time to learn anything about the company. They want someone who applied for a reason and wants to work at THEIR company.

For help with company research, we have a full article on how to research a company before your interview.

And for help with your interview answer after youve researched the employer, you can see the example response below or read our full article on how to answer, what do you know about our company?

Example answer:

I know youre one of the top alarm system manufacturers in the US. I did some reading on your website and discovered that you create alarms for businesses and office buildings, not just individual homes. I also did some reading on your corporate culture and it sounds like you do a lot to support the development of your employees, and get involved in community service too. Thats something I care a lot about and something that attracts me to an employer.

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Phone Interview Tips To Get You To The Next Round

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach.

What is a phone interview and what role does it play in the hiring process? Many companies use phone calls with candidates who look good on paper to determine if those applicants are ready to move to longer, more in-depth interviews. This is sometimes called a phone screen.

Prepare Your Answers To Common Interview Questions

12 Tips for Having a Great Phone Interview During Initial ...

After researching common interview questions, consider how youll answer each. Write your answers in a bullet list, highlighting specific experiences you can draw on to demonstrate your answer. Because youll be on the phone, it can be helpful to have notes in front of you during the interview to help you answer. Rehearse your answers without looking at your notes for more practice.

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What Is The Purpose Of A Screening Interview

Typically, an employer will hold phone screening interviews in the first round of hiring. They are designed to determine if an applicant is qualified for the position and would be a good fit for their company.

As one of the leading engineering staffing agencies, we help employers recruit engineering, design, and IT Talent. Contact us about our Engineering recruiting services or IT staffing services

Research The Company And Position

This is a no-brainer, but along with preparing for general questions about yourself and your experience, you should invest some time in understanding the basics of the company, such as the mission and day-to-day functions. You should also research aspects of the company that are relevant to the position for which you’re interviewing. For example, if you’re interviewing for a marketing or social media position, make sure you look at all the company’s accounts and handles. See what’s missing, too, so you can make suggestions as to how the company can improve its efforts and what you’ll do to get it there.

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