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10 Phone Interview Questions: [With Sample Answers]

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Job interviews are hard enough, let alone interviews over the phone.

Luckily, you don’t have to struggle if you know what phone interview questions to expect.

Before you stress out too much, take some time to prepare. You can list out points to cover when answering common questions.

Then, you won’t have to stress about what to share in the interview, and you can avoid excessive silence.

Read on to learn about some phone interview questions.

10 Common Phone Interview Questions

When you get a phone interview, you may receive a lot of the same questions as in a traditional interview.

But knowing what to expect allows you to prepare and avoid unnecessary blocks of silence.

So here are some common phone interview questions you should prepare for.

  1. Tell me about yourself and your background.
  2. Why are you applying for this position?
  3. Why are you looking for a new job?
  4. Why do you want to work here?
  5. What are you passionate about?
  6. What do you know about our company?
  7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  8. Are you willing to relocate?
  9. What are your salary expectations?
  10. When can you start?

Before you get on the phone for an interview, you should know how to answer basic interview questions so that you don’t spend time coming up with answers.

Similarly, it helps to consider tough interview questions for a later phone interview.

What Should I Say in a Phone Interview?

The nice thing about a phone interview is that you can be wherever, unlike other types of interviews.

You also don’t need to dress up, but you do need to still be aware of everything you say.

Before you answer the phone for your phone interview, consider what you should say. That way, you won’t have to pause so much on the phone, and you can have a good conversation with the interviewer.

What Skills Are Phone Interviewers Looking for in a Candidate?

A lack of visual communication means phone interviewers rely more on your voice.

You need to use your answers to convey more information if you want to move on to the next round of the interview process.

Here are some traits you should cover in your answers.

  • Good Communication: When the interviewer can’t see you, it’s essential for you to communicate verbally by speaking clearly and confidently.
  • Positive Attitude: As you speak, make sure you have a positive tone to help show that you’re a good candidate for the position.
  • Interest: You also need to make sure you convey interest in what the interviewer has to say, so take a slight pause to keep from talking over them.
  • Relevant Qualifications: It helps to have your resume on hand for your phone interview so that you can speak to any relevant experience or qualifications you have.
  • Gratitude: At the end of the interview, practice gratitude by thanking the interviewer for their time.

What Traits Are Phone Interviewers Looking To Avoid in a Candidate?

A phone interview is also an excellent time for employers to screen for certain traits they don’t want in a new hire.

Even if you don’t fit the qualifications perfectly, avoiding specific qualities may keep you in the running.

Here are some traits to avoid when in a phone interview.

  • Self-Centered: While you do need to talk about yourself, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer how they are or how they like their employer.
  • Annoying: It can be hard to know what annoys someone, but avoid interrupting the interviewer or getting distracted with other tasks while you’re on the phone.
  • Dishonest: Make sure you never lie on your resume or during a phone interview. Even though you can hide certain cues over the phone, your voice may reveal you’re lying.

Sample Phone Interview Questions and Answers

As you prepare for your next phone interview, you should consider sample questions. Of course, every interview is different.

However, knowing some of the most popular queries can help you know what to say.

Tell Me About Yourself.

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers may have you start by telling them about yourself so that they can get to know you.

This question gives you a lot of room to speak, and employers want to see where you’ll take the answer.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

You should focus on the parts of your background that would help you in the new job. Share your prior work experience or any other relevant activities you’ve done.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid spending too much time talking about your personal life. While some details can help, too much may not be relevant to the position.

You could make the interviewer think you easily get distracted or off-topic.

Example Answer

“I’ve been a project manager for a year now, and I enjoy it. Before that, I worked in various roles throughout the office, such as an assistant. Those roles have helped me get to where I am today.”

Why Are You Applying for This Position?

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers want to know what stuck out to you about their particular job listing.

Even if you’re applying to anything and everything, consider something unique about the role to mention.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Open the job listing and look for something specific that you like. Talk about how you love how the company is offering a particular benefit or more autonomy. Keep your answer relevant to the role.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid generic answers, such as “I need a change,” “I hate my current job,” or anything similar to those.

The more specific you can get, the more you can show the interviewer that you took the time to learn about their company.

Example Answer

“I love how the job listing mentions the ability to work autonomously after initial training. As someone who’s self-motivated, I enjoy getting to push myself at work and am looking for a challenge.”

Why Are You Looking for a New Job?

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers may want to know if you’re unhappy with your current job or if there’s another reason you’re looking for a new job.

This question is more generic than the prior one, and you can give a unique answer if you get both questions.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Be honest about why you need a new job. It’s okay to say you don’t enjoy the environment at your current employer or that they don’t pay you enough.

Those answers can help the interviewer determine if you’re a good fit for their company.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid being too negative about your current role. While you should be honest, you don’t want to make it seem like you’ll complain about every little thing that’s wrong at work.

Example Answer

“I’ve enjoyed working for my current employer, but I’m looking for more of a challenge and room to grow. I’d love to eventually obtain a managerial role and help my employer grow.”

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Why This Question Is Asked

A phone interview may include this question to help understand why you think you’re a good fit for their particular company.

It’s a good chance to show off what you know about the company or the job description.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Focus on how the company in question can help you reach your professional goals.

Review the job listing beforehand to find any responsibilities or duties that interest you. Then, you can include those details in your answer.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

You shouldn’t say you want to work for the company because you need a good job. That may be true, but you should personalize your answer to the interview.

Example Answer

“I want to help X company reach its financial goals using my marketing and sales skills. I believe my experience can come in handy when creating new marketing campaigns.”

What Are You Passionate About?

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers may want to know what interests you both in and outside of work. Like the first question to tell them about you, this question can be more personal.

However, it’s a perfect time to show off how you can help the employer.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Focus on any passions you have that relate to the job you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying for a customer service role, consider expressing your passion for helping people.

You can also share a few personal passions but stick to professional ones for the most part.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid sharing all of your passions, particularly ones that have nothing to do with the job. Maybe you love ice fishing but will work in a warmer area.

You don’t need to spend time sharing that detail, even if it is unique.

Example Answer

“I’m passionate about helping others have the best experience possible in their daily lives. As a customer service representative, I’d love to use that passion to help your customers get the most out of your product or service.

What Do You Know About Our Company?

Why This Question Is Asked

A hiring manager may ask this question to see if you’ve done much research on the organization before the interview.

If you have, that’s a sign you care about the specific job and that you know how to research.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Focus on any unique features you’ve learned from the job description and the company website.

For example, share details like the company’s mission or vision and some of its top-selling products or services.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid saying you know nothing about the company. If possible, have the website up while you’re on the phone so that you can find something unique within a few seconds.

Example Answer

“I know your company aims to be the biggest innovator in the digital marketing industry. You offer various service packages for small businesses to get customers from social media and SEO.”

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers may ask this question to learn how long they can expect you to work there.

For example, if you’re looking to advance quickly, some employers might not want to hire you if they’ll have to go through the process again in a year.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Focus on the truth when answering this question. The truth may disqualify you from a job, but that’s better than lying, which can cause problems later if you get the position.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid saying that you hate the industry in question and want to leave as soon as possible.

If that’s true, that’s okay, but focus on a more general life plan. You don’t have to get super specific unless the interviewer asks.

Example Answer

“I see myself living a comfortable life and having a job I love that can support myself and my family. In five years, I’d love to be in a managerial role and have success training my direct reports.”

Are You Willing To Relocate?

Why This Question Is Asked

You may go through a phone interview because you can’t interview in person.

For example, if you want to work for a company that operates in another city, they might want to know if you’re willing to move or if you’ll want to work remotely.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Share if you’re willing to move, and be honest with the interviewer.

Saying you aren’t willing to relocate may not cost you the job as more companies are transitioning to remote operations.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid saying you’re willing to relocate if you aren’t.

That way, you can avoid a scenario where you get a job and need to move somewhere you don’t want to live.

Example Answer

“I’d rather not relocate right now as I have a family where I currently live. However, I’d be more than willing to work remotely and occasionally travel to the office if necessary.”

What Are Your Salary Expectations?

Why This Question Is Asked

An employer will ask this question to know if they can pay you what you need or want. Not all job descriptions share the pay rate because employers may want flexibility.

Asking you what you expect can help the company narrow its applicant pool.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Share what you need to make in order to support yourself and pay your bills.

Before your interview, do the math and account for taxes and any other employer deductions.

Then, you can give a specific number.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid beating around the bush as well as giving a really high or really low number. You should also avoid saying you’re willing to negotiate on the pay.

Even if you are, you don’t want to give the company more negotiating power.

Example Answer

“I expect to make about $50,000 before taxes and other deductions. The money will be enough to support myself and have money for emergencies. It will also match the salary at my current position, which I’ve been accustomed to.”

When Can You Start?

Why This Question Is Asked

One of the most commonly asked questions in an interview is to learn when you can start working for the company.

You should consider if you need to give notice to another employer or if you can start immediately.

If you need to give notice, you should know how much time you’ll have to give.

What To Focus on When Answering This Question

Be as honest as you can about when you can start the new job. If you need to give your current employer notice, consider that timeline.

Otherwise, you can say you can start immediately, and you should clarify that to the interviewer.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid saying that you’ll need a lot of time before starting. If an employer is asking this question, they likely need help immediately.

So while it’s okay not to be able to start that week, be willing to start as soon as you can.

Example Answer

“Since I currently have a job, I’ll need to give them two weeks’ notice. If I get a job offer today, that means I can start two weeks from today. However, I can start on a part-time basis right away and work after hours if necessary.”

Other Questions You Could Be Asked

In a phone interview, you may hear some other questions. Consider the following examples and why they may come up.

Additional Tips for Phone Interviews

Whether you have your first phone interview or have done them before, you should consider some tips.

Here’s what you need to know to help you have a great phone interview.

How Do You Prepare for a Phone Interview?

You can prepare for a phone interview similarly to any other interview. However, you also get to write out some information about the company.

You can even write down points to include in your answers to popular questions interviewers ask.

How Should You Introduce Yourself in a Phone Interview?

You should introduce yourself with your first and last name.

And if you have to call the company, you can mention that you’re calling for a phone interview.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of a Phone Interview?

One of the best questions an interviewer can ask is if you have questions.

Therefore, you should always have a few questions ready so that you can learn more about the job.

Will I Have Any Opportunities for Advancement?

You should consider if a promotion will be available.

If so, ask what your career path might look like with the company.

How Long Did the Last Person Stay in This Job?

If the person has quit after a few months, there’s a chance the job isn’t very good.

But, on the other hand, if they’ve worked there for years, you may have a good experience.

What Are the Next Steps in the Hiring Process?

You may want to know when to expect a follow-up interview or a job offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you call for your phone interview, consider the following queries and how they can help you prepare.

What is usually discussed in a phone interview?

In a phone interview, you’ll usually discuss the basics about yourself. Then, the interviewer may go over some details regarding the position.

That way, you can determine if you’re a good fit for the role and if you should continue to the next round of interviews.

What is the first thing you say in a phone interview?

You should first say your name in a phone interview, especially if you’re calling the company.

After that, mention the reason for your call.

Wrapping Up

Some of the most common phone interview questions can trip you up if you don’t prepare.

Luckily, you can expect a lot of the same questions regardless of the company calling you.

Be sure to think through your answers ahead of time. You can also take notes to reference and help make your answers better.

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