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Phone Interview Questions and Tips

Telephone interview techniques and advice
for a professional performance

There are a number of common phone interview questions used to screen candidates prior to in-house interviews. They are also typically used to assess candidates who are geographically distanced from the employer. Phone interview questions are also commonly used by specialist recruitment agencies and headhunters acting on behalf of employers, as the first step in the recruitment process. Through networking and by searching candidates' resumes in job sites, recruitment agencies and headhunting services identify candidates for preliminary telephone interviews. You should treat any direct telephone contact either with an employer, recruitment agency or heading hunting service as an interview.

The most important phone interview tip is knowing common questions to expect. The following is a sample of typical questions to expect over the phone. You may be asked something like: "tell me about yourself". This is designed to gauge not just career-related information, but also your ability to communicate effectively and your level of confidence. You can find answers to common telephone interview questions like the following:

  • Can you please tell me a little about yourself?
  • Why did you apply for the position?
  • How would you summarise your main skills
  • What projects have you undertaken lately?
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • What are your reasons for considering leaving your current job?
  • How do you see yourself in five years time?
  • What benefits/inputs do you think you can bring to this company?
  • Please tell me about your salary expectations
  • Finally, do you have any questions you wish to ask?

You can find more good answers for typical questions in our 30 page job interview section (see links that follow this article). Readiness for telephone interviews should be an integral part of your overall job interview preparation. As always, first impressions are extremely important. You should conduct yourself in a calm and confident manner. A good telephone manner and the ability to answer questions concisely are vital. Try to incorporate the following in your interview preparation:

  • Prepare for likely questions.
  • Familiarise yourself with your resume and its chronology.
  • Practice answering questions in a mock interview with a friend.
  • Never answer a question unless you understand it clearly.
  • If unsure about a question, ask for clarification.
  • Answer questions directly without deviating.

What to do after the phone interview

At the end of the interview, ask for the interviewer's name and email address, then send him/her a brief thank you note. As always with all job interviews, adequate preparation is the key to success. Studying the above phone interview questions will give you good insight on the type of information required and by preparing adequately, you will maximise your chances for selection.

Phone interview questions and answers