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Most Commonly Asked Phone Interview Questions

Most Commonly Asked Phone Interview Questions
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Congratulations on landing the phone interview! Your resume landed you the call, and you are now one step closer to grabbing that job offer!

The phone interview is a critical first step. Most hiring managers make their decision in the first five minutes of the call – so you need to crush these commonly asked interview questions and solidify your opportunity to advance to the next step.

Below are the top phone interview questions most frequently asked by recruiters and hiring managers – and the answers you need to score big!

Q1. “Tell me about yourself?”

This question is a dreaded question for most candidates because it can completely throw you off your game if you aren’t prepared to answer it.

It’s important to remember that this question is essentially an elevator pitch – and you need to be prepared to answer it or you may lose your chance to recover. The key here is to give a clear and concise answer about your professional background.

When answering this typical interview question – you should keep your answer to less than two minutes and focus on giving a brief summary of your last three to four positions, your accomplishments in each of these roles and the value it added to your employer.

A great answer to this question would be:

“I have 10 years of progressive experience in Human Resources, with a focus on a few core areas including employee relations, talent acquisition and employee engagement.

In my most recent role as Human Resources Director with Company X, I was responsible for building talent management and engagement programs for 5000 employees while leading a team of 6 direct reports.

 One of my greatest accomplishments in this role was the implementation and execution of our first ever employee engagement survey. We achieved an outstanding participation rate of 95%. This helped us to gain very valuable insights on how we can improve our overall employee experience.

 Prior to Company X, I was the Director of Human Resources for Company Y. Here is was responsible for overseeing the learning and performance teams and building programs to help improve employee onboarding.” 

You get the idea here.

You’ll want to run your elevator pitch through your last few positions but be sure to keep your answers simple, clear and concise. You don’t want to waste 15 minutes on this question – if you do you will lose the interest of the interviewer, and lose your chance to advance to the next round.

Q2. “Why are you interested in this position?”

This question is also an important question because employers want to know that you are super excited about joining their company. They DON’T want to hear that you’re just looking for a gig to pay your bills!

When answering this question, be sure to stress the reasons why you are excited about the opportunity and why you would make the perfect hire.

A great answer to this question would be:

“I’ve been incredibly excited about joining your company for quite some time, as I’ve heard only great things about this company from friends and other professionals in the industry.

But the real hook for me was reading the job description. I believe I have the perfect combination of skills and experience for this role and as a result believe I would be a strong asset to your team.”

Q3. “Tell me about your current job. What do you do on a daily basis?”

If you are asked this question, you need to avoid listing off a laundry list of duties. No hiring manager wants to hear you rattle off a job description. Instead focus on your main responsibilities and what the recent accomplishments are that you’ve achieved.

A side caution note – make sure to connect your accomplishments to the interviewers needs. Be sure to mention key points you read in their job description, so it makes it easy for the interviewer to understand how your past accomplishments will benefit their company.

A great answer to this question would be:

“On a daily basis I am responsible for all website functions for our customer and employee websites. This past year we had a complete redesign of both portals and I was able to make some key changes that resulted in higher customer acquisitions and conversions.

I see from your job posting that you may be looking for someone who can do similar work for you and ensure your conversion is successful. I believe I can help you right away in this area.”

Q4. “Why do you want to leave your current employer?”

This is a key interview and one that many candidates answer poorly, because ultimately this is a question  about your professionalism. Whatever you do (even if you absolutely despise your current employer) – do NOT bad mouth your current or former employers.

Be sure to keep your answer positive.

A great answer to this question would be:

“I’ve had a great time in my current role and had the ability to learn a lot. I’ve been in my current role for 3 years and I believe it’s now time for me to find a new opportunity so I can continue to learn and expand my experience grow my skills. I believe I can add great value to your team while also having the opportunity to learn more about your organization and support your future career growth.”

Q5. “What are your salary expectations?”

Yikes! This is a question that can literally freak any candidate out! The down side is that you will almost ALWAYS be asked this question on a phone interview. This is because recruiters don’t want to waste your time coming in for an in-person interview if the company simply can’t afford you.

It is important to be honest and upfront here.  Some recruiters may push you and, in this case, you may need to provide a specific range (because you don’t want to appear difficult). Just be honest, and let them know that you are open to discussing if you are above the range they have in mind.

A great answer to this question would be:

“Right now, I’m very focused on finding the right position with a great company. I’m open on my salary because it depends on the scope of the role and responsibilities. I’m keeping myself open to all fair offers.”

Then I would add “do you have a salary range for the position that you can share with me?”. This tosses the question back to the recruiter and hopefully they will share a range with you.

Again, if they ask you twice for a number, just give a range with a spread of $10k.

An example would be to say “My salary expectations for the role as I understand it today would be between $60,000 – $70,000. Does this fit within your salary range for the role?” Then you can have some dialogue from here if needed.

Q6: “Tell me what you know about our company?”

Hiring managers ask this question because they want to know you did your homework. With Google and the world wide web, there is really no good excuse for not being able to answer this question – so don’t get caught with your pants down on this easy one.

Check out company’s website, Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn or other review websites to learn more about the company, their mission and their people.

A great answer to this question would be:

“From my research I see that you are one of the leading home security firms in the nation. I see that you just acquired a smaller company, congratulations on that! I’d love to learn more about how the acquisition is going.

I also see that the company is very focused on supporting community events. It’s fantastic that your employees are so dedicated to giving back and helping to improve our local area. I am also very focused on volunteering for several local organizations so I believe I would fit right in here.”

Q7. “When are you available to start?”

It seems simple, but it’s not. This can be tricky, especially if you are working and hate your current employer. If you are working, there is really only one answer.

A great answer to this question would be:

“It’s important to me that I leave my current employer on a good note and help them with the transition of responsibilities, so I would need to give a minimum of two weeks’ notice.”

You MUST give a standard two-week resignation notice because you need to demonstrate that you are professional. This really just comes down to proper work ethic. If you don’t care to give your current employer proper notice, you will raise a red flag and they won’t hire you.

Q8. “Do you have any questions for me?”

Even if you don’t have any real questions – ask them something anyway. A candidate who answers “no” to this question will appear disinterested and unengaged. Hiring managers and recruiters want you to ask them questions, so be sure to have a few on hand.

A few great questions to ask would be:

“What would be the most important item you would need accomplished in the first 30 days if you hired me”

“Are there specific culture aspects in the company that a new person coming in should be aware of?”

“What type of person thrives in this work environment?”

“If you had to choose just one, what would be the most important skill for this person to join the team with?”

Remember – you can seal any doubt in their mind with these questions. Because after they answer, you can tack onto the conversation by stating why you are a fit for their needs. Just remember to be natural in your response.

Remember, the ultimate goal of this short phone interview is to qualify you for the next round. So smile (even if they can’t see you), stay positive in your answers and give them every reason to invite you to the next round!

Good luck!


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