Sample Phone Interview Questions

Sally Painter
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Sample phone interview questions aren't much different from those you'll be asked during an in-person interview. Many of the questions asked depend on the position for which you're interviewing.

Purpose of Phone Interviews

There are several reasons for a phone interview to be scheduled. It's usually the first initial contact that a company has with you as a candidate for an open position. After the recruiter goes through applications and resumes to match candidates with the current open position, the second step often involves further screening with a phone interview.

You may have already gone through that process and are having your second phone conversation with the company. This can be with a senior recruiter or even a supervisor. Due to economic considerations, more and more companies are handling long distance interviews via phone or video communication such as webcams. The final interview usually takes place with the candidate being flown in at the company's expense. If you live within easy driving distance of the company, you may still find the company reserves in-person interviews for the last stages of the interview process.

Many of the questions the recruiter asks during a phone interview depend on which stage of the interview process you're in. Obviously, if this is your second or third phone interview, the questions will be more in-depth and complex. Be prepared and you'll ace the interview.

Sample Phone Interview Questions

The recruiter will start your phone interview with a brief introduction about the company and the job. She'll then ask you to tell her a little about yourself and why you're interested in the position with her company.

Introductory Questions

The way you handle the introductory questions is an important first step and can be equated to a first impression when people meet for in-person interviews. Be personable and professional. Have your response prepared. You can even have it printed out and in front of you; just don't sound as though you're reading from a script.

Be brief when telling about yourself. State short unemotional facts such as that you recently graduated from college with a degree in business or that you've been a resident of your city for five years and moved there when you took your current position. You may want to state the reason you're looking for another job or wait to be asked later.

Next, tell the recruiter why you're interested in the job. Perhaps the company is your current company's biggest competitor. Maybe the company has an outstanding reputation within the industry and you feel the open position will allow you to better utilize your skills and grow beyond the limitations of your current position. Add a few comments about the company to back up your statement, then pause and allow the recruiter to comment and continue with the interview.

Job History

Each recruiter has a different approach to delving into your job history. At this stage of the interviewing process, the recruiter is most interested in your skill level and what you can bring to the open position. She may ask for a brief overview of your skills or she may dig deeper into each position listed on your resume. Her approach will largely depend on the purpose of the interview.

If you're an expert in your field, she'll want to explore your level of interest in the job as well as your qualifications. The recruiter is on a mission to understand who you are and what kind of employee you'll be. She wants to know how your experience will benefit her company.

This is your opportunity to use the preparation research you did on the company and the job.

Sample phone interview questions related to job history a recruiter may ask include:

  • What are your current duties?
  • How long have you been performing those duties?
  • Are you currently performing the job you were hired to do or did you do something before this job?
  • How have you improved your job function and how your job serves the company's mission? Your department's goals?
  • Have you had any opportunities to give input about how your department functions?
  • What has been your biggest challenge?
  • What were your expectations of the position when you accepted your current job?
  • How did your expectations match with the reality of performing your job?
  • What have you done to grow your job and your personal skill level?
  • What areas do you think could be improved?

Assessing You as an Employee

Once the recruiter is finished asking you questions about your current and past positions, her next questions will focus on the open position as she assesses your potential to fill it

At this point, the recruiter will get into more details about the open position. This is your opportunity to learn more about the company and the job. It's also a time when the recruiter expects you to ask questions. Just don't attempt to turn the tables on the recruiter and interview her. Remember that the purpose of this interview is to give as much information about yourself as you can so you'll be invited to the next or final interview. Possible questions that relate to the company's open position include:

  • Do you have any questions about the job?
  • Do you feel you can do the job?
  • What parts of this job do you feel are similar to your current or prior positions?
  • What do you feel you can bring to this position?
  • What do you feel will be the greatest challenge in performing this job?
  • If either overtime and travel are job requirements, the recruiter will ask how you feel about each.
  • Is there anything you'd like to add about your work history that hasn't been addressed?
  • Do you have any other questions for me?

Ending the Interview

The phone interview typically ends at this point. The recruiter will let you know when you should be hearing from her on the decision as to whether or not the interview process will move forward. In some instances, the recruiter will end the call by setting the date and time for your next or final interview.

Sample Phone Interview Questions