Phone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Chris Kolmar
By Chris Kolmar
- May. 5, 2021
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With the rise in remote work, companies are doing more and more business over the phone and via video calls, and job interviews are no exception.

Because of this, you’ll likely encounter a phone interview at some point in your job application process. This is often a kind of screening before the company puts in the money and time to bring you out to their offices or coordinate everyone on a video call. Other times, your whole interview will be conducted over the phone.

No matter what your situation is, it’s a good idea to prepare for your phone interview, and one of the best ways to do this is to practice answering some of the common interview questions you’ll likely encounter during this meeting.

Sample Phone Interview Questions and Answers

  1. Tell me about yourself.

    I’ve been an elementary school teacher for ten years, and I’ve loved being able to serve my students, their parents, and the schools I’ve worked for in that capacity.

    Recently, though, I’ve noticed that I have a passion for establishing school culture and supporting teachers, and that, combined with my desire for a new challenge, has led me to pursue a position as vice-principal.

  2. Why are you applying for this job?

    I recently relocated for my spouse’s work and have been looking for a marketing position. I saw this one and that it has responsibilities in both marketing and communications, and I thought it would be a great fit for my five years of experience in marketing and six in communications.

  3. Why do you want to work here?

    In researching your company, I noticed that two of your values are excellence and relationships. As a designer, I believe that building good relationships with my clients allows me to deliver a product that truly matches what they’re looking for and expand my client base. After all, satisfied customers tend to refer their friends.

    I’ve been in a couple of positions with companies that didn’t value both of those things, and it was difficult. Seeing that yours does make me excited to apply.

  4. What do you know about this company?

    I read Wired regularly and noticed a feature on your company and how it is both on the cutting edge of technology and a leader in giving back to your community. I looked up more information about it, and I noticed your current initiative to make sure underfunded schools have top-of-the-line IT systems.

    I’m passionate about serving my community, especially when it involves giving children more opportunities to get a good education, and I’m fascinated by the technological advancements you’ve made as well. I’ve been watching for job openings at your company since seeing the article, so I was excited when I saw this one open up.

  5. Would you be willing to relocate?

    I am, and I’m actually planning to move to the area next month regardless of whether I get this position or not, as my spouse just started medical school there. I wouldn’t be able to relocate any earlier than that, but I’m very much interested in this role, and I’d be happy to work remotely until then if that’s a possibility.

  6. Why should we hire you?

    With my background working as a registered nurse in the emergency room and my experience volunteering as a nurse in developing countries, I believe I’d be a great fit for this rural clinic position.

    Not only do I have experience working with people who have a wide variety of ailments and require immediate attention, but I also have experience working with fewer resources and helping people who may not have much opportunity to seek medical attention. This position requires both of those things.

  7. What is your greatest strength?

    My greatest strength is my ability to put myself in the customer’s shoes, which has been invaluable during my time as a customer service representative.

    It’s allowed me to remain understanding and kind even during the most frustrating interactions I’ve had with customers, and it’s given me the motivation to go the extra mile and find the best result possible.

  8. What is your greatest weakness?

    My greatest weakness is that I tend to overthink my plans for social media marketing campaigns, making the process take much longer than it needs to without much to show for the extra time I was putting in. To combat this, I started setting timers for how long I could work on a campaign plan.

    Once the timer goes off, I ask myself if I truly need more time or if the project is in a good place. If I do decide it needs more time, I set another timer, this time for a shorter amount of time. This practice has helped me cut down my planning time and get better results, and my current boss even noticed and complimented me on it.

  9. What motivates you?

    Having a problem to solve gets me excited and motivated to work, especially if I’m solving it on someone else’s behalf. This has been a great motivator for me in my job, as much of my current role in the IT department is solving problems for clients, and I noticed that this is a major responsibility in this position as well.

  10. Describe your responsibilities in your current role.

    In my current role, my main responsibilities are to conduct home visits, to work with patients and their families to create and adjust care plans, and to act as their representative with insurance companies and hospitals.

  11. What type of manager do you work best with?

    While I’ve gotten along with managers who have a wide variety of personalities and leadership styles, I find I do best with someone who will give me a vision or goal and then allow me to figure out the best way to get there.

    I’ll ask for help if I need it and check-in as I go to make sure I’m on the right track and doing what my manager wants, but being able to have that element of freedom in my work is a big motivator for me.

  12. Why are you leaving your current job?

    While I’ve enjoyed my time at my current position and have learned a lot, I’d like to expand my skill set by moving into private accounting, something my current employer doesn’t offer an opportunity for.

  13. What challenges are you looking for in a job?

    I thrive when I’m pushed to set higher and higher goals. Knowing I need to be continually growing and improving keeps me motivated, and I’ve produced some of my best work during stretching projects like these.

  14. What is your ideal salary?*

    For this position, considering my level of experience and the industry pay standards in this city, my ideal salary would be somewhere between $40,000 and $45,000.

    *Note: Make sure your answer to this question is based on research, not just what you want to be paid.

  15. Are you interviewing with other companies?

    While I feel this role is the best fit for my goals and skills, I am in the process of interviewing with two other companies, yes.

Tips for Acing a Phone Interview

  1. Prepare for the interview. Just as you would for a face-to-face interview, make sure you’re ready for your phone interview. Gather your resume, notepad, and pen, and prepare your general talking points.

    You might even want to practice answering some sample interview questions over the phone with a friend so that they can give you feedback on how your voice and answers come across.

  2. Come with a list of questions to ask your interviewer. No matter what stage you’re in in the interview process, be prepared to answer the question, “Do you have any questions for me?

    You don’t need to ask more than a handful, but prepare more than you think you’ll need so that even if your interviewer answers some of them along the way, you’ll still have a few fresh ones ready to go.

    Here are some examples of good questions you can ask:

    • How would you define success for someone in this position?

    • What does a typical day look like for the person in this position? A typical week?

    • How would you describe the company culture? What do people like about working here?

    • If I were to get this job, how would I receive feedback?

    • What opportunities for advancement does the company have?

    • Is there anything else I can clarify for you about my resume or qualifications?

    • What is the most challenging part of this job, in your opinion?

    • Who would I be reporting to if I held this position?

    • What qualities are you looking for in the person you hire for this job?

    • What does the next step in the interview process look like?

  3. Find a good spot. Just as you would choose a quiet space with a neutral or professional background for a video meeting, plan to take your phone interview in a space where you’ll be undisturbed.

    Traffic roaring, people shouting, or wind blowing in the background is distracting, and sounding like you’re doing something else while you talk can cause the interviewer to question how much you care about the job.

    Sometimes these noises are unavoidable, and sometimes you may not have any advanced warning about the call: Interviewers understand that. Just try your best to find an area conducive to your conversation.

  4. Smile. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, a smile still carries through a telephone. Sound more alert, polished, and professional by acting as you would if you were sitting across the table from the interviewer. You can even put on an outfit that you’d wear to an interview if that’ll help you get into the right headspace.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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