Best Phone Interview Tips and Questions to Ask

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The interview process can include several steps to ensure you’re the right candidate for the job. A phone interview can help a recruiter narrow down a large group of candidates. Learning how to present yourself as an ideal candidate over the phone can help you proceed to the next part of the interview process. This article will discuss phone interview tips and follow-up questions you can ask the interviewer. 

What is a phone interview?

A phone interview, also called a phone screen, is typically the first part of the hiring process. A recruiter or human resources representative will ask you questions on the phone to determine if you could be a good fit for the position. They might ask questions about your resume to ensure the information is correct. Some questions can help the interviewer see if you would work well in the company’s environment. 

Phone interviews usually only last 30 minutes or less, so it’s important to make a positive first impression in a short amount of time. 

Best tips for a successful phone interview

Follow these eight tips to prepare for your phone interview:

1. First, know the important details of the job description

Knowing the job description can help you form answers that are specific to the role. Consider writing down the main duties, responsibilities and requirements so you can reference them in the interview. If possible, have a computer with the description available as well as a tab for the company’s website so you can formulate specific answers. 

2. Secondly, have a salary range ready

One of the first things a recruiter may do is gather basic information about you, including your salary range. Asking about your salary range lets the recruiter know right away if you might be a good candidate for the position.

To provide a reasonable salary range, see if the job listing provided a salary. If not, research salary trends for similar job postings in your area. Give a range based on your qualifications and research. 

3. Next, practice answers to basic interview questions

A phone interview is an ideal time for recruiters to ask general questions so hiring managers can conduct an in-depth interview later.

It may be helpful to prepare answers to some common questions an interviewer could ask, such as:

  • ‘What is your available start date?’
  • ‘Are you willing to relocate?’
  • ‘Why do you want to leave your current job?’
  • ‘Why did you leave your last job?’
  • ‘Can you describe your duties for your last position?’

4. Research the employer beforehand

While you probably learned a little about the job based on the description, knowing about the company is also important. If you learn more about the business’ culture and values, you can see if they align with your goals. Researching the company also gives you the opportunity to create specific answers that show your interest. 

5. Use the STAR method to answer questions

Thorough answers allow interviews to gather a clear understanding of how you work. The STAR method stands for:

  • Situation: Describe a time in which you encountered a challenge.
  • Task: Mention your role in the situation. 
  • Action: Detail the steps you took to overcome the obstacle. 
  • Result: Talk about what happened after you took action. 

Basic questions where you could use the STAR method include ‘What are your greatest strengths?’ and ‘Tell me about a time someone criticized your work.’

6. Find the right environment for your call

A quiet space with good reception is important for your phone conversation. The best place for a phone interview is a room where you can be alone and is free of distractions and noise.

Have a computer or pen and paper available to take notes. If you’re using a cellphone, make sure the battery is fully charged. 

7. Keep the tone conversational and positive

Since the interviewer won’t be able to see you, use your voice to make a good first impression. Many interviewers take detailed notes to share with the hiring manager, so speak clearly and slowly. Stay focused, take notes and actively listen so you can maintain a steady conversation.

Although they won’t be able to see it, smiling and using hand gestures can make you sound more positive and enthusiastic. You can also try standing up for an energized tone. If you stay seated, keep your feet flat on the ground and keep your shoulders back. 

8. Finally, follow up with the interviewer

Just as you should follow up with the hiring manager after an in-person interview, sending a thank you note after a phone interview will demonstrate your interest in the role and distinguish yourself from other candidates. In your follow-up note, thank the recruiter for their time and express enthusiasm about the position. 

Questions to ask at the end of an interview that will impress employers

Here are popular questions to consider asking during a phone interview:

What is the company culture like?

You should learn as much as you can about the company culture to see if you will be comfortable with the environment. Consider if the recruiter’s answer is similar to what the business advertises and if it matches your needs. 

What are some of the most important qualities needed for this position?

The job description will contain the duties, responsibilities and requirements, but understanding what the interviewer believes is most important can help you create more tailored answers for the next interview round. 

For example, you’re interviewing for a job as a quality assurance tester for a software company. The HR representative tells you that the most important qualities include teamwork and experience testing in Jira. For your next interview, you can use specific examples of your teamwork and Jira abilities using the STAR method. 

What is a typical day like?

The interviewer may tell you many important details about the job, such as what time your day will usually start, daily responsibilities and who you will work with most. This information can be helpful in deciding if the job is right for you. 

What’s your favorite part about working with the company?

This question gives you the opportunity to connect more with the recruiter. It shows that you want to hear more about their opinions. Their answer will provide more insight into the culture and any perks the company may have. For example, the recruiter may respond that they enjoy working with their team or that they have a great vacation policy. 

What are the next steps?

Ask the interviewer when you can expect more information about the interview process. You can follow up if you haven’t heard from them after the designated time. It also shows the recruiter that you’re interested in moving forward. 

Your phone interview is a good opportunity to learn more about a potential employer. By preparing for the interview and asking thoughtful questions, you can show that you’re an ideal candidate. When you present yourself positively over the phone, you can increase your chances of getting hired.