50 Frequently Asked Phone Interview Questions

Hopefully, you landed on this page because you have a phone interview scheduled, if so, congrats! The hiring manager is interested enough in your resume to want to learn more about you. What is known to the job seeker as a phone interview is commonly referred to as a phone screen by the hiring manager. Phone screens are a strategic way for recruiters to effectively filter through potential candidates. At the end of the call, the recruiter will either eliminate your resume or decide to move forward with your candidacy. They tend to be about 15-30 minutes, making it a cost-efficient way for a company to decide if they want to set aside the additional time for an in-person interview. Or, in our adapted COVID-19 world, a video conference interview. 

Every step in the job search process requires diligence and preparation. How you perform on your phone interview will determine whether you get to meet other team members and interview further.

Therefore, research the person interviewing you, the role you applied for, and the company. Practice answering the frequently asked interview questions listed below. Some questions will provide you with tips and insights as you prepare for the interview. Remember a phone interview is relatively short, the hiring manager will only ask a few questions. Keep your answers laser and impactful.  

1.Tell me about yourself

Insight: This is almost always the first question and interviewees tend to struggle to answer it. Since the question is broad, people tend to get lost as they discuss their work experience and speak with no direction or strategy. 

2. What are your biggest strengths?

Tip: Select your strengths based on the role requirements. If the job description states they seek a team-player, effective communicator, and highly organized individual, highlight these qualities about yourself. Also, keep in mind the company values. For example, if a company states one of their biggest values is sustainability and you are an effective communicator, state your strength and weave in your love for the environment.  

3. What are your biggest weaknesses?

Tip: Avoid saying “I’m a perfectionist.” It’s used so often at this point it’s not believable or engaging. At the same time, avoid a weakness that is the core of the role. For example, do not say my weakness is being disorganized if part of the role is managing a project and leading a team. Lastly, remember to discuss how you are working on your weakness.

4. Why are you interested in this role? 

Tip: Discuss the role and company specifically. Avoid vague and broad answers. If it’s a software engineer role, avoid a vague answer such as “I really enjoy being a software engineer and working on computers.” That statement applies to all software engineering roles. Instead, discuss aspects of the role that attracts you and the values of the company that make you the perfect fit.

5. Why are you interested in working for [company name]?

Tip: Do research on the company’s mission and values. When answering this question, highlight aspects specific to the company and how it aligns with your interests and values.

6. What is your management style?

7. Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Insight: Companies want to know they are hiring someone that will stay with the company for the long-term and benefit the company’s goals. Make sure your answer aligns with the role you are applying to and with the company’s values. 

8. Why do you want to leave your current company?

Tip: Do not speak ill of your current employer, or any previous employer. Instead, express gratitude for your time in your current role and focus on what you are looking for and how it is a great fit for what the potential employer is looking for.

9. Why was/is there a gap in your employment between [date] and [date]?

Insight: If you have gaps in your work history, you must come prepared to discuss it. Do not bring it up, however, if the interviewer asks about it, be ready to discuss it. The key is being honest and strategic. Be honest about the gap and make sure you tie in how it has benefitted you and made you a better employee overall. If you lost your job due to COVID-19, you are certainly not alone. Millions of people have been furloughed and laid off. If you took some time off to travel, discuss your passion for traveling, what you learned, and how that experience made you a better candidate for the role. 

I realized advertising was not what I saw myself doing in 5 years. I love meeting new people, diversity, learning about different, and exploring new foods. I decided to take some time off to travel and learned an incredible amount about work-ethic as I did a variety of odd jobs. I learned how to spark conversations with almost everyone and the beauty of diversity. Through, I also learned I wanted to go into a line of work that [describes the job you are applying for]. That is why [company name] value of diversity, inclusion, and community is amazing to me and I believe I would be a great fit for culture and role like this.

10. What can you offer us that someone else can not?

11. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

12. Are you willing to relocate?

13. How quickly would you be able to start if offered this job?

Tip: If you are currently employed, take into consideration your 2-week notice. Also, if it is a role that requires you to relocate, consider how much time you will need to get everything in order to move.

14. Are you willing to travel? 

Insight: Most job postings will state this on the job description. If traveling is a part of the job, it’s important that the hiring manager double-checks the candidate is comfortable traveling. Especially now with COVID-19, there may be additional company regulations around employees traveling. 

15. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

16. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.

17. What is your dream job?

18. How did you hear about this position?

19. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days, 60 days, 90 days on the job?

20. Discuss your educational background.

21. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.

This is a great opportunity for you to use the S.T.A.R method. 

22. Why should we hire you?

23. Why are you looking for a new job?

24. Would you work on holidays/weekends?

25. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?

26. What are your salary requirements? 

Insight: Before the interview, do research on average salaries for the role. Great resources include Glassdoor, Salary.com, Payscale. If you cannot find any reliable sources on average salaries for the title or company it’s best to not provide a specific salary range because it could harm your negotiation power or you could rule yourself out if the salary range you provide is way above their budget. 

27. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.

28. Who are our competitors?

29. What was your biggest failure?

30. What motivates you?

31. What’s your availability?

32. Who’s your mentor?

33. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your manager and how did you handle it?

Insight: Behavioral questions are a great way for the interviewer to learn more about how you demonstrate your skills and qualifications. Again, do not speak ill of your past colleagues and use the S.T.A.R method. Focus on how you handled the situation using your amazing qualities. 

34. How do you handle the pressure?

35. What are your career goals?

36. What gets you up in the morning?

37. What would your direct reports say about you?

38. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?

39. If I called your boss right now and asked him/her what is an area that you could improve on, what would he/she say?

40. Are you a leader or a follower?

41. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?

42. What are your co-worker pet peeves?

43. What are your hobbies?

44. What makes you uncomfortable?

45. What are some of your leadership experiences?

Insight: Even if you do not have experience with employees directly reporting to you, there is a way you can discuss your leadership experiences.

46. How would you fire someone?

47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?

48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?

49. What questions haven’t I asked you?

50. What questions do you have for me?

Tip: Always come prepared with questions. To curate the right questions, check out our blog on The Most Important Questions to Ask During an Interview (And the Questions You Should Not Ask During an Interview).

The way you impress the interviewer on your phone screen can set the tone for the rest of your interviewing process and ultimately decide if you receive an offer. Prepory’s comprehensive career coaching coaches provide company-specific interview prep amongst a plethora of additional services to prepare you to successfully land your dream job. 

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