Phone Interview Questions to Ask

After you collect applications and resumes for a position, the next step is to conduct telephone interviews.

Phone interviews are short interviews used to screen candidates. They can help you determine which candidates you should further interview or send on to your client. Doing phone interviews prevents you from wasting everyone’s time on a candidate who is obviously a bad fit.

To have a successful interview, you need a list of phone interview questions to ask.

Conducting a phone interview

Before we get to specific phone screening interview questions, let’s go through the process of conducting a telephone interview.

First, you should schedule a call. Don’t call candidates out of the blue. They might not be prepared or available. Instead, determine a time when you are both available for the phone interview. Schedule the event in your recruiting CRM.

Before the interview, make a list of telephone interview questions to ask. These should be all the questions you want to cover during the interview. Try to use the same questions for all phone interviews for a position to fairly evaluate the candidates. Look over the list of questions before each interview to make sure you are prepared.

At the beginning of each phone interview, remind the candidate of who you are and why you are interviewing them. This only needs to be a short introduction. It can help put the candidate at ease and give them more information about the position.

Then, start asking the phone interview questions. As the candidate answers, take notes. After the interview, record the notes in your recruiting software so you can easily reference them later.

Later, follow up with the candidate. You might request a follow-up interview, schedule an interview with your client, or send an applicant rejection email.

10 phone interview questions to ask

A phone interview is a quick interview, likely about 15 minutes long. Your questions shouldn’t be too in depth at this point. You simply need to confirm that the candidate is interested, qualified, and worthwhile to pursue.

Here are the best phone interview questions to help you get a feel for candidates. The phone interview questions to ask candidates are followed by explanations of why you should ask the questions.

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

This is a good question to start with because it gets the candidate to open up. The candidate will ideally use this space to pitch themself for the position. But, they might also tell you about nonprofessional interests, which can help you determine if the candidate might be a good cultural fit.

Where were your past places of employment? What were your job titles? What were your responsibilities? What were the dates of employment?

You have the candidate’s resume, so you should already know about their job history. But, having the candidate tell you about it can help you find discrepancies. If there is mismatched information, the candidate might be lying. Or, if the candidate recites their resume, there might be inaccurate information.

You might also learn more about the candidate’s work experience from their response. The resume probably only has brief bullet points, so this is a time when the candidate can elaborate.

What about the job description attracted you?

This question helps you discover if the candidate was casting a wide net of applications, or if they actually remember applying for this position. And, the candidate’s response can tell you how serious they are about the position.

Why do you want this job?

This question might overlap with the previous one listed. But, what attracted the candidate to the position and why they want the job might differ. The candidate might talk about career changes, compensation, benefits, or other reasons they are interested in the job.

What are you looking for in your next position?

The candidate can give you a wish list of sorts in their response. They might talk about tasks they want to do, work hours and days, and preferred manager types. Compare their response to what your client offers.

What type of work environment do you prefer?

This phone interview question lets you learn what kind of workspace the candidate prefers. For example, the candidate might like to work from home, in a cubicle, in a private office, or in an open concept space. The candidate might also like to work closely with others or more independently. Find out if the candidate’s desires match what your client can offer.

What applicable skills or experiences do you have?

This question gives the candidate a chance to tell you how they think their skills apply to the position. The candidate can sell themselves, especially if their job history doesn’t perfectly line up with the open job.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

Find out why the candidate is unsatisfied with their current job. If the candidate lists complaints that won’t be resolved at your client’s company, you might want to pass on the candidate.

What are your salary expectations?

Even if the job description listed a wage range, you should still ask this question. A candidate might think they can negotiate for a higher wage later on. If the candidate’s expectations and the client’s wage range don’t line up, the candidate might not be a good fit.

Are you willing to travel?

If the position requires relocation or occasional travel, the candidate should know about it. If the candidate is not willing to travel, they won’t be a good fit for a position that requires it.

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