Receiving the news that you’ve landed a phone interview is likely to bring forth plenty of excitement. If you’re hoping to prepare yourself accordingly, you have come to the right place.
It’s important to set yourself up for success throughout the interview process. These common phone interview questions and answers will give you an idea of how to provide an adequate response and move on to the next stage.
A phone interview (sometimes called a phone screen) is an important first step of being hired by a company. This stage can help recruiters and hiring managers ensure candidates meet the minimum requirements of a position.
While certain body language cues may be lost in a phone interview, there is the added benefit of being able to have notes and references on hand. The important thing to remember is to be cognizant of your articulation and tone when answering the questions.
Common phone interview questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- How did you hear about this job?
- What do you know about our company?
- What about this position interested you?
- What do you do at your current job?
- What applicable attributes or experience do you have?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What are your overall career goals?
- How do you prefer to be managed?
- When can you start?
- What questions do you have for me?
These common interview questions can be expected in a phone interview, but if you want to really prepare, continue reading for example answers that can be used to formulate and prepare your own responses.
Common phone interview questions and answers
As you prepare for these interview questions, it’s important to try to give an accurate and articulated response that also comes across naturally. Use these examples as inspiration for forming your own answers during a phone interview.
Tell me about yourself.
This may not be a question, per se, but it is something you should completely expect to answer regardless. Likely to be one of the first items of business during a phone interview, this question provides the interviewer with context as to who you are and validates what you’ve stated in your application and resume. Answering this question naturally and confidently can help set a more relaxed tone to the interview and start things off on a positive note.
Example answer: “Of course. I’m originally from rural Illinois in a small town on the outskirts of Chicago. I received my bachelor’s from Iowa State University where I studied Agriculture Communication, being able to combine my passion for the agriculture industry with my love for digital media. I had a previous internship as a content creator for a start-up agriculture media company, as well as a part time job on-campus as a peer writing tutor. Upon graduating, I sought out positions in marketing for start-ups in the technology sector. I wanted to expand my experience beyond the world of agriculture and technology marketing is on the forefront, so I believed that’s where I could learn the most. I’m currently a content marketer for G2 Crowd where I am involved in creating written content and participating in current SEO strategy in order to fulfill top-of-funnel marketing objectives. I’ve truly learned a lot throughout my experience and aim to continue learning throughout the course of my career.”
How did you hear about this job?
A question like this is fairly straightforward. Explain simply what sourced you to the position, whether that be a recruiter, an employee referral, a job board, a public listing, or some other origin. This can be an opportunity to share what drew you to the position or company in the first place.
Example answer: “I found this position in a listing on Built-In Chicago and was really drawn to the company culture as well as the opportunity to expand my skill set into a new industry. I felt as if the job description really spoke to me.”
What do you know about our company?
If you’ve made it to the phone interview stage, it’s time to do further research into the company beyond the role you applied for. The interviewer is trying to ensure you are aware of what the company does and how you can help its overall mission. This is a great place to mention something about the company’s values or culture that you feel you can relate to. Having the company’s website up to reference during this time can be incredibly helpful.
Example answer: “When applying to this position, I looked into G2’s mission to help users and businesses reach their potential. I think the fact that you’re providing a platform for people to share their experiences about their software with each other and the companies that produce them can help bring transparency through the marketplace. On top of that, the start-up culture and values I read about are all things I can see myself being a part of and ultimately contributing to.”
What about this position interested you?
Similarly to your research into the company, you should make sure to do research into the position you’re applying to. Draw connections between your past experiences and the job description itself to showcase exactly why you want the job.
Example answer: “Being able to work collaboratively with other content creators as well as pick up skills within an industry on the leading edge of innovative marketing practices really drew me in. I think with my experience in content creation and my knowledge of writing and research, I could really assist your team in developing pieces to drive traffic.”
What do you do at your current job?
A question like this is designed to relate your current role to the position you are applying for. Again, draw connections between your experience and the job description to show how your abilities and skills can be relevant to the role you hope to gain.
Example answer: “As a Content Marketing Associate, I currently spend quite a bit of my time involved in content strategy, outreach, and distribution, as well as topic and keyword research. Mostly, I create written content for the company blog, aimed at bringing visitors to our website and eventually introducing them to the service we provide.”
What applicable attributes or experience do you have?
Much like the previous questions, this is a great opportunity to sum up the items listed on your resume and relate them back to the job description.
Example answer: “My previous experience at Arable Media tasked me with daily content creation and strategy aimed at growing a media start-up towards targeted personas. I became well versed in developing digital content and the social sharing of these content pieces. I think all of this, in addition to my experience as a writing tutor and editor at my school’s writing center, goes well in hand with the duties of this position.”
What are your salary expectations?
When you are applying to any position, it’s important to have an idea of how much money you expect to make off the bat. Most interviewers will ask your salary expectations in order to determine if they can even afford you as a hire. This figure should be based upon industry standards, but additionally take into account your cost of living. Salary increases can be found more commonly through switching jobs than it usually can through in-house promotions or raises. It’s best to provide a range as opposed to a hard number - make sure you’re okay with the lowest number in that range.
Example answer: “I feel that for this position and with my experience, $45,000 to $55,000 is an appropriate range to expect.”
What is your greatest weakness?
You’ve likely been asked this and the following question in just about any job interview you have been involved with, so you should come to expect it. The important thing when formulating your answer to this question is to explain that whatever your weakness is, you express how you are focused at working to improve it. Being able to identify this weakness is the first step to reconciling it.
Example answer: “One major weakness of mine is that I can become easily burnt out throughout the course of the workday if I’m not stimulated by my day-to-day work. There are times when I’ll hit a creative block and have to get up and move around or take a short break to recollect my thoughts and energy. This is something that although I can’t fix completely, I do know the solutions to push me through it and refocus on the task at hand.”
What is your greatest strength?
Another question to expect in just about any interview. Here, it’s important to be self-aware, but avoid coming across as if you’re just bragging about yourself.
Example answer: “I would consider one of my greatest strengths in the workplace my ability to adapt to different situations. Especially in a start-up, I understand that your role and goals can change day to day and week to week and being able to roll with that and still do great work is something I pride myself on.”
What are your overall career goals?
An interviewer may ask you this question to determine how long you plan on staying with their company or where you hope the company may take you. Again, stay authentic but enthusiastic about the company and the job you’ll be doing.
Example answer: “While I really love written content creation currently, I hope to eventually break into other types of content like podcasts or video. Even beyond that, being directly involved in content strategy and other marketing functions down the road is a goal of mine.”
How do you prefer to be managed?
In the role you’re interviewing for, you will likely be working under the person conducting the interview or another manager. The interviewer wants to ensure that the way you like to be managed is somewhat in line with your manager.
Example answer: “I generally prefer to have a structure to work off of and a backlog of tasks to keep me busy. A manager who’s mostly hands-off, but will check in at times to keep me on task is ideal. I also enjoy being given the opportunity to deviate a little with some out-of-the-box tasks and collaborations.”
When can you start?
An employer is usually looking to fill a role fairly quickly, so if it’s going to be some time until you’re actually available, they may move on to another candidate. Your answer to this will be determinate on whatever your own current situation is, but you should have a good idea before hopping on the call.
Example answer: “I can be available to start about two weeks after signing an offer. That will allow time to help my current company fill the position.”
What questions do you have for me?
This is the portion of the interview where it shifts to more of a discussion. After answering questions, it’s your turn to bring up a few of your own. Develop these beforehand in your research. Try to come up with a few in case they become answered earlier during the interview. Avoid questions about benefits, perks, and certain more minute details as these can be saved for more intensive interviews later in the process.
Example questions to ask:
- What does a typical day look like for a person in this position?
- Why do you enjoy working for the company?
- I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
Call me maybe?
A phone screen is a crucial step in the interview process and by doing your research and thinking through your answers carefully, you can nail it and continue onto the next hiring stage. That new job is just around the corner.
Not quite ready to handle a new job? Find out how to decline an interview without looking like a jerk.