Phone Interview Tips and Questions

Wondering what types of questions you might be asked in your phone interview? Here are some of the most common phone interview questions – and a few tips to help you craft killer responses.

phone-interview-tips-and-questions-strengths-responsesLet’s get something straight from the get-go . . . the purpose of a phone interview is to determine whether or not it’s worth the employer’s time to call you in for a face-to-face interview. Period.

If you’re looking to dazzle the employer with a verbal monologue about industry trends or overwhelm the interviewer with your rock star employment credentials, prepare to be disappointed. There’s a good chance that the phone interview will be conducted by a HR rep who is working down a list of boilerplate questions.

But even though phone interviews are essentially screening tools, your responses to standard questions can come into play later in the hiring process. Consequently, it’s important to be prepared for some of the direct (and potentially uncomfortable) questions employers often ask during phone interviews.

What are your strengths? (Or, Tell me about yourself.)

If ever there was a time for an elevator pitch, this is it. Keeping in mind that the interviewer probably has a list of at twenty other candidates for phone interviews, you need to be prepared to deliver a clear, concise highlight reel of your skills and professional qualifications.

Why are you leaving your current job/why did you leave your last job?

Phone interview questions don’t get more challenging than this question, which is designed to weed out candidates who are willing to trash their former employers. If you’re currently employed, you may want to mention that you are interested in tackling a new challenge with greater responsibilities. If you were laid off, you can discuss how your situation has presented an opportunity for professional growth. Either way, prepare your answer to this one in advance and never, ever talk badly about your current of previous employer.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Worst response? On a sailboat in the Caribbean. Employers aren’t so naïve as to believe that a job offer will automatically translate into a decade long employment. But since they will likely invest in training and other benefits, they don’t want to hire someone who is either using the position as a stepping stone or plans to jump ship in a year or two.

What do you know about our company?

In today’s job market, successful candidates equip themselves with the information about the interviewer’s company. You need to know what the company does and have a general idea about where they are headed. Without a base level of knowledge about the company, it will be impossible to discuss how you can help them achieve their goals.

What are your salary requirements?

Salary inquiries are standard procedure for phone interviews. If your expectations are out of the ballpark, it’s easy for the employer to eliminate you from consideration. Many phone interviewers will also ask about your current salary. The best approach is to be honest about your current pay grade and offer a ballpark range for your salary expectations – with the caveat that it’s difficult to be definitive since your salary requirements will depend on the total compensation package and additional insights about the position that will emerge from a face-to-face interview.

Why should we hire you?

This is a great question that can come up at the end of a phone interview. It’s basically a catchall question – a last chance to make your pitch for a face-to-face interview. Ideally, you’ll want to reaffirm your professional strengths and talk about how your strengths are a good fit for the company’s objectives.

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