What Type Of Questions Should You Ask Candidates In A Phone Interview
An initial, screening phone interview should be brief and focus on questions which can help employers determine if the applicant is a good fit for their open job position and company culture.
The best phone interview questions are those which will help you check if the candidate:
Understands the job
Fits in your company culture
Has reasonable salary expectations.
I suggest using short and simple questions that dont require too much too much thinking on the candidates part.
Remember, this just a first, initial screening. You will have plenty of time to ask more complex interview questions in the later phases of your interviewing process.
Interview questions such as behavioral interview questions, problem-solving interview questions, analytical interview questions and other types of complex interview job questions are more appropriate for a face to face discussion.
How To Impress The Hiring Manager
Not a phone person in your daily life? Youre not alone. As other messaging technologies gain steam, its easy to fall out of practice talking on the phone. Add to that the fact that phone interviews knock out one easy point of communication with the hiring managernamely, body languageand you have a tricky situation for many interviewees.
To maximize your chances of making a good impression on the hiring manager, there are a few important phone interview tips to remember:
How Quickly Are You Trying To Fill This Position
This is another question that gives you clues about the timeline and whether theres a sense of urgency. If the company wants a new hire in place as soon as possible, the remainder of the hiring process might be incredibly quick. If the hiring manager wants to take their time to find the right match, it could be a while before you hear about a decision.
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Be Willing To Discuss Salary
Now, this is a tricky one. It’s not easy to discuss salary as you don’t want to lowball yourself, but avoiding this conversation altogether can only backfire. Recruiters and hiring managers ask about salary for a reason: They don’t want to waste your time if your expected salary is much higher than what the hiring company is willing to pay.
Some candidates like to beat around the bush when it comes to this question. They go through the entire interview process without giving an answer until the very end. This is the worst thing you could do! If your salary demand is much higher than what the company is offering, not only have you wasted the recruiter’s time, but you have also made a bad impression on someone who can introduce you to better jobs in the future. Be honest about what you’re willing to earn so that you can focus on other job openings if this one doesn’t work for you.
But First: Why Are Phone Interviews A Thing
Phone interviews are, as you can imagine, convenient. As former recruiter and Muse career coach Angela Smith points out, If there are a lot of candidates and youre just trying to narrow down who to bring in for an in-person interview, sometimes a phone interview can be super helpful. Especially if someone lives out of state, it saves the hiring manager from having to pay for the person to fly in and interview in the flesh .
What are they looking for in that phone call? Usually its very high level: Theyre screening for risks, theyre trying to validate your qualifications, and they want to see if youre a fit, says Muse career coach Tina Wascovich. In other words, she says, Who are you, what do you know about us, why do you want to work here?
Of course, its entirely possible youll get asked very specific questions that are unique to the job or your field. But more often than notand usually in addition to those behavioral or technical questionsyoull get asked the following in a phone interview:
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Tell Me About A Time You Were Able To Communicate Effectively And Make Your Work Relationships Stronger
The recruiters perspective: They want to find out what the persons communication style is. Some people will hem and haw around what they want you to do or as questions. Other people are very direct. In a startup, the persons communication style can be very important.
Id want somebody to show they have awareness about how they communicate, and that theyre open to learning a new way of communicating with each person that comes into their world.
The answer: Im thinking about when I was working with a partner at an IT consulting company. I remember her taking me into the hallway and talking to me in the middle of putting together a huge request for proposals, and her telling me, Lynn, you scared the hell out of me. Because when I get going, I get very short. So I took a breath, and I listened to her and thanked her for being honest with me. Our relationship shifted from that moment on.
So, Id want somebody to show they have awareness about how they communicate, and that theyre open to learning a new way of communicating with each person that comes into their world.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
What Inspired You To Apply Here
Lots of recruiters ask candidates why they want the job. But since this interview question is so common, many candidates come prepared with a canned response. Thats why Scott puts a clever spin on the question by asking about their inspiration for applying instead.
I found it produced far more robust, vivid stories than simply Why here? or Why are you applying? he says. Asking about a candidates inspiration really got them talking.
Unexpected interview questions, or twists on the old classics, give candidates pause for thought. Not only will this allow you to hear their unrehearsed answers, which may tell you more than one thats been workshopped and practiced, but it will make the interview stand out in their mind.
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Top 20 Phone Interview Questions And Best Answers
Are you prepared for a phone interview? What will the interviewer ask you? Before you interview in person with a hiring manager, you may be asked to take part in a brief phone screen interview.
If you’re interviewing for a freelance or remote position or for any job with a virtual hiring process, you may have a longer and more in-depth interview. In these cases, a telephone interview may be the only actual interview you’ll have.
Tell Me About Yourself/walk Me Through Your Resume
Asking this question, says Smith, helps connect the dots between you and the position. Sometimes the person interviewing you wont be the hiring manager but a recruiter or someone in HR who has little background in your field. In that case, they may have zero context as to what makes your resume a good fit.
And for people who have a really diverse background or random jobs, she adds, it can be hard for the person reading the resume to make those connections.
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What Challenges And Opportunities Should I Expect Holding This Position
This question will make it clear how painstaking it can be to work there and whether you are able to manage with them at all. It often happens that a necessity to manage the work of a big team may be challenging for a person without experience, but in the case of success, the company is ready to give a promotion to this candidate, so you can expect for better.
Tell Me A Bit About Yourself
Some people might think this question is too simple, but its actually a crucial part of the interview. First, it helps put the candidate at ease by giving them an easy question to answer.
Second, they may mention something related to what they want most from their next job. This can help you steer the direction of the conversation and make getting answers easier.
The best candidates have an answer prepared for this question. They should mention the skills theyve learned from their previous work experience, and how they relate to the job description.
For example, if a candidate has spent time working at a pizza place. Then he/she can say that theyre used to working with high volumes of people in a fast-paced environment.
The best answers include phrases from the job description, demonstrating that you are both aware of what is required and enthusiastic about it!
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What Working Schedule Shall I Expect
If not stated in the vacancy description, one of the questions to ask a job recruiter is how long and when you must be at work and perform your responsibilities. Get a clear answer on the regular schedule, the presence of night or late shifts, a necessity to work overtime, business trips. You can also ask about benefits and vacation time offered by the company to get the idea of what to wait if hired.
Where Is The Workplace Located
This question might not be necessary if youre interviewing with an internal recruiter. Youll know what company theyre recruiting for, so you may already know where the office is.
But, if youre working for an external recruiter, you need to ask this question. That way, you can decide if the physical location works for you.
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What Is The Achievement Youre Most Proud Of
Learn more about the candidate by asking them to single out some of their past accomplishments. People who take pride in their work will likely have a number of achievements that stick out in their memory. Even better, a high-quality candidate may discuss an accomplishment that aligns with the kind of work theyd be doing at your company.
Tip: Pay attention to the candidates tone and energy when answering this question. Do they sound genuinely excited to talk about their past achievements? Or do they sound like theyre just rephrasing items on their resume to sound more compelling?
What Are You Looking For In Your Next Job
This question, says Smith, sets the expectation…in terms of what this persons going to come in here and do for us and what they want to do for us. Ideally, your goals and the roles should be aligned.
Your answer also says a lot to an interviewer about whether or not youd be a good long-term hire. For example, you may be looking for a job where you can grow and move up in the next couple years, while this role leaves little room for mobility. Hashing this out now helps both you and the hiring manager avoid a bad fit.
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What Culture Does The Company Have
Every company features a certain system created on the basis of work ethics and culture. It can be unacceptable to be late or leaving your job place anytime you want. It can be connected with the appearance and outfits approved for wearing, communication and holidays as well as many other points. Are you ready to dress formally? Will you stick to the strict rules adopted by the firm? It is necessary to find out it at the interview.
Tell Me About A Challenge Youve Encountered And How You Solved It
The recruiters perspective: They just want to see whether this person has experience solving similar challenges to what well be doing here in our company. If you havent solved the exact challenge before, whats your thought process?
The answer: Youll want to use the STAR method situation, task, action, result and ideally youd want to pick an example thats going to be relevant to the position youre applying for. To give a well-rounded answer, its important to provide some context.
Lets say you were working on a project, when was it and how big was that project? What was going on at the company at the time? Its about setting the scene and showing the complexity of what you did. Then talk about the specific role you played in the project and the result. The more you quantify the result, like how much money the project made or that it was completed on time, the better.
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Phone Interview Tip #1: Its Ok If You Need A Little Time To Answerbut Dont Take Forever
- Thanks for that question. Give me just a minute to consider it before I share.
- I have a few ideas on how to answer. Let me take a minute to gather my thoughts.
- Im not totally clear on what you mean by XYZ. Could you explain it another way?
- Before I answer, can you confirm youre referring to XYZ?
Can You Tell Me More About The Team I Would Be Working In
This will help you understand the way the company is structured, who you’ll report to and the department the role sits within. These are the people you’ll work most closely with, so it’s worth trying to find out about the team dynamic and working methods.
Depending on the response, it may also give you the opportunity to mention any experience or success you’ve had working in similar teams – just to give the employer one final example of how well you’ll fit in if you get the job.
Other useful questions to ask at interview include those about:
- performance appraisals
- opportunities or challenges facing the department/company
- company-specific projects or campaigns.
If the employer doesn’t give an indication of what happens next then a good way to wrap up the interview is by asking about the next steps and when you can expect to hear from them.
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Whats The Compensation Package For This Position Like
While asking a hiring manager about pay during an initial meeting is usually a no-go, its fair game when youre dealing with a recruiter, especially an external one. Ideally, theyll be able to give you an overview of the salary range and available benefits, allowing you to decide if the job meets your needs earlier in the process.
You Say That You Are Looking For Something New What Ideally Would You Like To See Different In Your New Job
Is the candidate looking for a new industry? A new workload, or new coworkers? It all makes a difference. A candidate who is looking for new coworkers but is happy with their actual work is going to be a different candidate than a person who wants to change their career focus.
Both are fine candidates, but they are looking for very different solutions. A person who wants a new environment is going to be very interested in your culture. A candidate who is looking for a different type of work will be very interested in the actual job description.
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Describe What You Do In Your Current Role
Like the question Tell me about yourself, this provides context for the interviewer to get a sense of your skill set and expertise. It also shows whether or not you can effectively communicate your value propositionas Wascovich points out, If you cant describe how you contribute on a daily basis, why should I hire you?
Are You Actively Working With Any Other Recruiters On Opportunities
Having strong working relationships with multiple recruiters as a candidate is perfectly acceptable and expected, but theres a point of diminishing returns. If youve been proactively working with a lot of recruiters for quite some time or youve put in many applications with minimal progress, you may come across as a less viable candidate.
I would view candidates in a positive position if theyre dealing with selected agencies rather than making multiple applications where they cant remember where theyve applied, says Steve Preston managing director at Heat Recruitment in the U.K. You ultimately want to be working exclusively with the candidate and establish a two-way relationship. Whilst this is not always possible, its good to be working with someone who understands the benefits of being selective.
When it comes to disclosing other opportunities youve been considering, honesty again goes a long way. Paul Smith Managing Partner of Odgers Interim U.S., says theres no right or wrong answer to this question per se. However, he appreciates transparency. He wants to understand whether hes in competition with other recruiters or clients, which indicates the likelihood a candidate will take a job. Candidates who refuse to share this information end up creating a lack of trust with the recruiter. If you have a choice between a candidate who is trying to play the game and a candidate whos honest, the honest one is generally going to come out on top.
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Questions To Reveal Organizational Skills
Finding an employee who can stay on task and organized is crucial in picking the right candidate. You want to find someone dedicated to completing their responsibilities on time, without having to be micromanaged.
It can be challenging to determine a persons organizational skills through a simple phone call, but if you are video chatting, you can use the time to take in the persons appearance and the area around them.
A disheveled appearance or a cluttered work area can signify someone who doesnt put much thought into organization.
Try asking these pre-screening questions for your candidates to determine their opinions on organization and time management:
- Do you have experience working on more than one project at a time?
- How do you prioritize tasks?
- What tools do you use to manage projects, so theyre completed by the due date?