Phone Interview Questions

Although phone interview questions are not always different from those of a typical sit-down interview there can be some key differences. In general, phone interviewers are selected to be more convenient for the interviewer and the job candidates.

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Now telephone interviews are especially common during preliminary screenings (also known as first round interviews), the interview questions and tips will focus on the types of questions you can expect in one of these early interviews.

Make sure you find out whether this phone interview is a full formal interview with a telephone or a first round phone interview screening. To get this information, ask the interview coordinator.

When you have a preliminary phone interview:

  • The interview is more likely to be led by a representative from human resources or a recruiter than someone in the department.
  • The interview is generally pretty short, often just 30 minutes.
  • A standard set of questions is likely going to be asked of every candidate, so that each person is given a fair shake.
  • The interviewer is basically checking boxes to determine whether or not you fit the profile of who the company wants to hire for the job.
  • You may be asked multiple questions about just a single trait (such as integrity in retail, numbers in sales, enthusiasm for that organization)

With these ideas in mind, the typical phone interview questions you are likely to hear include:

“Based on your research, what is your understanding of this company? What would you say we do, and how would you say it’s unique from other companies?”

Such a question is asked to determine whether you are diligent and have done your homework about the organization. To prepare for this interview question, do your homework. and research the company. If you want, you can even have the company’s website loaded on your computer in case you get stuck. Just don’t be distracted by a computer screen.

“This job requires someone who has experience in __________.  Can you describe what is your background in this area?”

Talking to an HR representative, the key is to highlight the total amount of work experience in terms of depth (hours or years of related work) and breadth (the range of work that you’ve done). If you speak with someone who has worked in the industry, you will also want to speak in the industry lingo to demonstrate your conceptual understanding of the work.

“People who are successful in this job could be described as ________. How would you say you fit with that profile?”

This is basically testing you against your resume. To be prepped for this question, review the job description before your call, and identify how your past experiences line up. I also recommend taking notes if they list of different characteristics. If you are worried about forgetting this list, you can write things down (one of the luxuries of a phone interview).  Then just list the items off and move on.

Our company’s core values are _________. How would you say these values connect to you?

(Similarly, it could be, “our company’s mission is ___________. How you would you say this mission connects to you?)

This phone interview question is basically a combination of the first two mentioned here. It requires you to do homework on the company, and then connect who you are to what you learned.

“Why are you interested in this job and our company?”

Don’t get too wrapped up in it. List off a few reasons why you think it is a good fit, based on your research of the organization. Then express enthusiasm for the work.

“Do you have any questions for me?”

If you’re talking with someone from HR, you may not want to get too far into the knitty gritty.  Good questions ask about the company and the job generally. “What would you say makes this company unique?” or “What do you think are the most interesting parts of this work?”

And of course, always conclude the phone interview with the questions, “What are the next steps in the process?” And, “Would it be possible to schedule that now?”

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