Phone Interview Questions and Example Answers

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Phone interviews are a convenient way for a company to decide if you are an appropriate candidate for a job before conducting an in-person interview. This type of interview gets the basic questions out of the way so the employer can ask you more advanced ones should they decide to bring you in. Studying potential questions and practicing the answers will help you feel more prepared for the phone interview. This article will define a phone interview, provide sample questions and answers, and offer tips for being interviewed on the phone.

What is a phone interview?

This is a job interview that takes place over the phone. It is usually the first interview a company performs in the hiring process. When there are multiple candidates for a position, phone interviews can quickly find those who are a good fit. Candidates who are a good fit will usually be asked to attend in-person interviews.

Sample phone interview questions and answers

Here are examples of potential phone interview questions a company may ask you, along with sample answers:

Tell me about yourself

Employers commonly begin an interview by asking you to tell them about yourself so they can decide if you are a good fit for the position. The phone interviewer might not have looked into your background at this stage. Your answer is a chance to show them why your background relates to the position you are applying for.

Example: ‘I graduated from Missoula University in 2009 with a marketing degree. I have been in the marketing industry for over 10 years as a marketing assistant and a social media manager. I’m looking forward to using these skills to work as a lead marketing manager.’

Why did you leave your last job?

Your answer to this question indicates your attitude and work ethic. If your last employer fired you, you should be honest about it while remaining professional in your answer. You can mention the specific reason the company fired you while explaining why you are now a stronger employee because of it. This answer shows you learned from your experience and can speak positively about your previous employer.

If you left your last job for a different reason, you should mention that, such as not being able to improve your skills in that position. Your answer should always remain positive.

Example: ‘I worked as a junior software developer for five years at my previous company and enjoyed working with my team. After learning many new skills, I wanted to move to a role with more responsibilities. There were no higher positions available, so I decided to leave the job to look for a senior role.’

Why do you want this position?

Phone interviewers ask this common question to see if you researched the company and the job. You should answer it by mentioning specific tasks you saw in the job description. You can further personalize your answer by adding why you look forward to those tasks.

Example:‘I would love to use my prior culinary experience to explore new menu items as head chef. I have several ideas for the upcoming spring season. I also want to be part of a team and collaborate with the other chefs on cooking techniques.’

What are your salary expectations?

An interviewer may ask you this question to determine if your needs are within the company’s budget. The best way to prepare for this is by researching the average salary for that position in your area. You can also explain why you believe you are worth that price based on your experience.

Example: ‘I would be comfortable with a salary in the range of $80,000 to $90,000, given the requirements for this role. I am also basing this on my five years of experience in the accounting industry and the three certifications I currently hold.’

What do you know about our company?

Your answer to this phone interview question can show the employer you are serious about the role through your understanding of the company’s background and values. It will benefit you to look at their website before your interview, as they will likely list what they are most proud of. You should read the ‘About’ page as well as any awards or press pages to bring these accomplishments up in the interview. It is not necessary to repeat everything you read, so decide on a few qualities you think are the most important.

Example: ‘I love your mission of helping small companies learn how to build and maintain their first website, and I enjoyed reading your client testimonials. I know that I would enjoy working with a team that won the customer service award for the past three years.’

What is your preferred management style?

Interviewers might ask about your ideal management style to decide whether you will get along with your potential supervisor. This question benefits you, as well, because you want to make sure you will thrive in your future job. You should be honest in your answer and explain why you prefer a calm or fast-paced environment.

Example: ‘I tend to work well in fast-paced environments where there are always tasks to complete. I find that I focus better and can be more creative.’

Tips for a phone interview

Here are a few tips that can help you excel at your phone interview:

Prepare notes

One advantage of a phone interview is that you can have notes in front of you. You should write down facts about the company, job duties and the average salary to be ready to answer related questions. You can also write down questions you want to ask the interviewer.

Practice your answers

Researching the questions ahead of time will help prepare you, but you should also rehearse saying the answers out loud. Doing this will give you practice in pronouncing difficult words, and it will make you sound more confident.

Speak clearly

Make an effort to enunciate and speak slowly. Have a glass of water nearby to make sure your throat does not get dry.

Employers may use phone interviews to make their initial contact with you about a job. This helps them screen good candidates before meeting anyone in person. Preparing for a phone interview by reviewing possible questions can make you more confident in your answers and help increase your chances of progressing to the next interviewing stage.