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Phone Interview Questions to Prepare For

US News & World Report -  Money logo US News & World Report - Money 11/4/2019 Hallie Crawford
a person sitting at a table using a laptop: Young black woman talking on phone at her desk in an office© (Getty Images) Young black woman talking on phone at her desk in an office

Phone interviews are a common way for many businesses to kick off the interview process with you as a job candidate. A low investment option to vet you, a phone interview enables them to get a sense of who you are and if you would be a good fit for their organization before bringing you in for an in-person introduction. They are also used for long-distance freelancers or remote positions. 

While it may seem like a more informal method for interviewing, don't make the mistake of thinking this is a casual conversation. This is a job interview that you should take seriously and prepare for extensively. To help you, here is a list of some of the most common phone interview questions, why a human resources professional, recruiter or hiring manager may ask them and examples of how you can answer them.

Why did you apply for this job? This phone screen interview question allows the interviewer to determine if you are serious about the job. They will be looking for details and genuine expressions of interest about the organization's mission and tasks you'll be required to perform.

Sample Answer: Your organization's goals and mission truly resonate with me. I have X years of experience with tasks and requirements for this role. I believe in the mission for the organization and the services you provide because of my history serving clients in the past in this way. I think that I would be a great fit for this position and a great addition to your organization because I bring the skills of A, B and C to the table.

What do you know about this role? Again, they are looking to see if you did your homework and are genuinely interested in this job or if you just randomly sent out your resume.

Sample Answer: From the job description, I see that you are looking for a skilled operations manager who has strong leadership strengths and is able to communicate clearly and effectively. I have been an operations manager for five years and am extremely familiar with the tasks required of this role including managing a team, developing and implementing systems to ensure the organization runs smoothly in all areas and supporting the business mission.

Why do you want this position? An interviewer hopes to learn about your current situation with this question. Resist the urge to give any personal details during your phone interview, unless they are directly relevant to this position.

Sample Answer: The job description states that this position allows room for professional growth. Professional development is important to me, and it seems that this is also important to your organization. I would be glad to work for an organization that truly cares about the overall happiness and professional development of its employees.

Why did you leave your last job? This is a question that could reveal a lot about your loyalty to an organization. Avoid telling any negative stories about your previous role, even if you feel you were dealt with unfairly. Regardless of what occurred in your previous role, put a positive spin on the situation and discuss what you learned and how that makes you a better professional. Focus on what you want now versus hashing out the past.

Sample Answer: I worked for my previous employer for five years. Unfortunately, due to a reduction in staff, my team and I were let go. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to work there and build my leadership skills and work with a strong team. I am looking for new opportunities in my career to enable me to enhance those skills even further.

Tell us about yourself. This type of question is designed to help you open up so that hiring managers can learn a little more about your personality. However, they don't want to know about your personal life, they want to know about you as a professional. This answer will be similar to your elevator pitch or your personal brand statement.

Sample Answer: I have worked for the past 10 years as a data analyst. The past three years I worked with Company X analyzing their marketing program. My feedback allowed the company to make significant adjustments in their marketing efforts, resulting in an uptick of sales by 3% each year. I have also trained 10 new employees in the newest methods of analysis. I enjoy seeing how good data promotes overall business growth and positive changes in our industry. Is there anything else you would like to know about me?

What relevant experience do you have? This question will provide insight into your critical thinking skills. A hiring manager wants to know if you are able to identify relevant experience from what you read in the job description. Make sure to include quantifiable statistics when possible.

Sample Answer: The job description states that you are looking for someone with experience in launching new products. In my previous position, I oversaw the launching of three new products. My strong communication skills and work ethic contributed to positive revenue in all three launches. Some of my methods were implemented into all new product launches at the organization.

What is your preferred work environment? This phone interview question will give the hiring manager some insight into your work personality and what kind of tasks you enjoy.

Sample Answer: I enjoy working with others when brainstorming and discussing how to implement processes. However, I do find that I am very productive when I work on my own. That is one reason why I am interested in this remote office position.

Do you have any questions? This is the time to ask about the next steps and how to follow up with the hiring manager. Write down what they tell you so there is no confusion when you finish the call. Also, prepare a few interview questions of your own, such as: What type of person best succeeds in this role? What is a typical workday for someone in this position? Do you have any hesitations about moving me to the next level of the interview process that I can address? Having questions prepared for the interviewer shows your interest in the company and position.

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

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