Phone interviews are really phone screens. They’re trying to screen you out and narrow down the list of who they invite to interview face-to-face. You must do well to move forward, so here are 17 potential phone interview questions and answers.
1 – Tell me about yourself.
They may start your interview with this warm-up question—except that it isn’t really a warm up. This isn’t social—it’s your first interview question. Summarize your key “selling points.” What in your education or background makes you a good fit for this job? See an expanded answer here.
2 – Why are you interested in this job?
They want to check your interest level before they bring you in for an hour of in-person interviewing. This is a great reason to research the company before your phone interview. Tell them why your skills are a good fit, and then give them 3 reasons why you’d like working there. These would be personal or professional reasons why you’re excited about this job. See a longer explanation here.
3 – Why are you leaving your current job?
The question lurking behind this is: Was there a problem? This is important for them because if they hire you, then it will be their problem. Please make sure not to be negative here. Don’t talk about any problems at your previous/current job. Instead of focusing on why you want to leave, talk about why you want to move forward to THAT job. (See what to do if you MUST give a reason.
4 – What do you do in your current role?
Tell them about what you do, and about what you’ve done. Tell them about your accomplishments. How have you contributed? Be strategic about this. Talk about the things that will relate to your success in this new role. If it’s significantly different, this is a great time to discuss your transferrable skills. See a detailed answer here.
5 – What do you know about our company?
Always, always do your research on a company before you interview. If you wait until you’re on the phone with them to find out, it puts a big damper on the conversation. They’ll assume you aren’t that interested. How do you research the company before a phone interview? Check on their website, their LinkedIn page, and in a general internet search on them.
6 – What is important to you in your next job?
Will this job be a good fit? Does it match up with your goals, desires, or career plans? In your answer, focus on why this job appeals to you.
7 – Are you interviewing with anyone else?
The best answer is something like, “I’d like to keep that confidential. I will also keep this interview confidential. But I will say that my job search is going well.” They may want to know their competition, but you don’t need to tell them. You can let them know that you're in demand.
8 – How’s your search going?
They may be prying to see how fast they need to move, or how sought-after you are as a candidate. The only answer to give here is positive. Say something like, “It’s going so well that I don’t think it will last long.”
9 – What’s your greatest weakness?
Despite what you may have heard, it's OK to admit to a real weakness. The trick is to be strategic. Try to name one that’s a negative in your personal life but a positive for the job. See more here.
10 – Are you a team player?
I can’t think of any job that doesn’t require you to work as part of a team at least sometimes. It’s important to be positive here. You could say something like, “I do enjoy the dynamics of working in a group, bouncing ideas off each other and generating creativity, and I also enjoy the responsibility and independence of working alone. I’m comfortable working within what’s needed in the situation.” Find out more about how to answer this question.
11 – What kind of work environment do you prefer?
You want to avoid knocking yourself out of the running here by naming the wrong thing, but you also want to end up in a job that fits you well. One way to be positive and get more information is to say, “I have preferred X-type of environment in the past, but I love new experiences and what I can learn from them. I see a different type of environment as a new way to develop additional skills. What would you say the work environment is like here?” See more here.
12 – What’s your current salary?
You can answer if you want to, but you're better off avoiding it. It’s not really relevant to this job, anyway. Try saying something like, "What is the range you have budgeted for this job?" If they tell you, you can assure them that you're comfortable with that range. See a longer answer here.
13 – What salary do you expect?
Can they afford you? They’d like to find out before they invest time in you. Try to avoid answering this. Say something like, “I’m sure that you’re offering an appropriate range for this position, and it won’t be a problem. What range have you budgeted for it?” Putting the ball back in their court can be a great tactic. And, it could get you useful information. Find out more here.
14 – Are you willing to travel?
This seems cut and dried, but you may not want to answer until you nail down exactly how much travel they’re talking about. It's fine to ask.
15 – Are you willing to relocate?
This can be a hard ‘yes,’ or ‘no,’ depending on your particular circumstances, but my advice is to answer with a generally positive attitude about moving for your career. You may be much more motivated to move once you find out more about this job. See more here.
16 – Who are your references?
If they ask about your references, they'll probably call them before they interview you face-to-face. The best references are past bosses or other high-level execs who can speak to your work skills. Be sure to prep them before they're called. Here's how to manage your references.
17 – Do you have any questions?
The most common answer is, “I think you’ve covered everything.” However, that’s a terrible answer. Instead, have a few questions ready to ask. See a variety of questions you could ask here.
More Phone Interview Questions and Answers
**Check out my article series on Phone Interviews for advice and tips on everything you need to be successful in a phone interview.
**Don't forget to ask your own questions - see questions to ask in a phone interview.
**Want to practice a phone interview with an expert to make sure you can ace it? Set up a quick coaching session. As little as 30 minutes could do the trick to polish your phone interview questions and answers..