When we are busy job searching it can often be a surprise to come up against an employer that prefers to ask you a set of phone interview questions before inviting you in for a face to face interview.
While it can be tricky to know how to answer phone interview questions on the hoof, there are ways that you can help prepare yourself when life throws you this curve-ball.
Not sure what the employer will ask you during this phone interview? Knowing in advance the most common questions and the best way to answer these will help you keep your cool.
Common phone interview question examples
Employers have been using telephone questions as a tool to help screen potential job candidates for years. Doing this can save the employer a lot of time and expense because they don’t have to invite a lot of job candidates in for a face to face interview.
Here is a good selection of the most common telephone interview questions usually asked. Most likely you will not be asked every single question in this list, but it helps to be prepared:
- Are you happy working in a team?
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- What attracted you to our company?
- What do you do in your current role?
- What do you know about our company?
- What made you leave your last position?
- What notice do you need to give?
- Where did you see this job advert?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the job?
What the interviewer is looking for
While it can be very helpful to have an idea about the sort of questions you may be asked, it is not just about your answers that counts – it is also about how you respond and deliver your reply.
The employer will be screening you for risk, so, for example, you may answer the questions correctly, but you may come across as nervous or hesitant, which can be a red flag to an interviewer, especially if the job that you are applying for involves using the telephone.
If you are applying for a position on a sales team, the employer will be looking for someone that is confident over the phone and can communicate well and hold a good dialogue with the caller.
How to answer phone interview questions
Many of the most common questions that are listed above only need a straightforward answer, such as if you are asked where you saw this job advertised, etc.
The employer may have advertised the job across several platforms, so asking where you saw the job ad will give them a bit of useful feedback about their advertising reach, so it may not be specifically about you.
So let’s take a look at how to answer some of the more involved and complicated questions so that you come across as a strong and confident job candidate.
Q: Are you happy working in a team?
This question is a common one for a manager that is looking for a good fit for their existing team. The recruiter will want to be sure that you will be happy to work as part of a tight-knit team and can work well with others.
With your answer here it does help to be honest. If you are a very independent worker that likes to have total control over everything you do, then maybe working in a team isn’t a good fit for you.
There is little point answering this question in a way that you know they want to hear. If you don’t work well as part of a team, how happy are you going to be in the role? How long will it be before you are looking elsewhere for another job?
Q: Do you have any questions for me?
This is a great opportunity for you to discover whether this job and the day to day duties it involves is the right move for you.
Don’t just be polite and refuse the offer of asking questions. The interviewer will want to see if you are interested in working for the company by asking this question.
It would be helpful to prepare a couple of good questions to ask in advance should this situation crop up. Your questions should be around the company culture, the team you will be working with or your future line manager.
It can help to have a notepad and pen with you during your interview so that you can jot down any questions that pop up in your head as the interviewer is talking to you. Your questions will show them that you have been listening and will help with your engagement.
Q: What are you looking for in your next job?
This is a question that is often asked and it sets the expectation of what you are prepared to do in your role while working for them. It helps here to align your answers to the company’s goal for the candidate they want to recruit.
You can be honest here if you are looking for a job that is more of a challenge or offers more career prospects than your current role.
This shows the interviewer that you are keen to take on more responsibilities and want to work hard to achieve your career goals that will lead to a future promotion, which will be good for the company’s productivity levels and internal targets.
Q: What do you know about our company?
Your interviewer will want to know if you have done your homework. Remember that they will be looking for a strong candidate that wants to work for the company rather than someone that is simply looking for any old job.
From the interviewer’s point of view, they will want to find a candidate that is as passionate about the company as they are and believes in the same things.
Try to avoid repeating word for word what is on the company ‘about us’ page. Instead, choose two qualities that the company stands for that you agree with and can align with. This could be anything from the positive company culture to their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.
Talk about how these things resonate with you and how you admire their commitment to a cause, charity or movement.
Q: Why did you leave your last job?
Asking why you left your last job will tell the interviewer a lot about your attitude and work ethic.
Again, you should be honest if you left under a cloud or you were terminated. You can explain that the job wasn’t the right fit for you without badmouthing your last employer.
You can briefly explain why you were let go and how you have learned from the experience and what steps you have taken to address any issues to make yourself a stronger candidate.
Never be tempted to talk negatively about your boss or any individual person from your previous company. This doesn’t come across as being very professional and can put the interviewer off your application.
If you were laid off or lost your job through restructuring, this wasn’t your fault so you have nothing to feel guilty about. This happens a lot in business so the interviewer will understand.
Q: Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?
This question is one of the most common ones to be asked in a telephone interview. It also gives you a chance for a bit of self-promotion to help you stand out from the other job candidates.
Remember that there will be plenty of adequately qualified candidates trying out for this role. It is your job to show the interviewer what makes you better than the rest and why you are worth considering.
Ask yourself what is the one thing that you have or can do that no one else will bring to the table? Showcase your talent and run with it to get your foot in the door for a face to face interview.
More phone interview tips
We hope that you find our phone interview question tips useful, but before you can even get the chance of having a telephone interview, you need to impress with your resume.
Because your resume only has a few short seconds to grab the attention of an employer, you need to give yourself the very best chance of landing a telephone interview by sending a resume that stands out from the crowd.
Employers will work through an average of 10 resumes every minute as they quickly scan over your information. Your resume needs to be able to catch and hold their attention if you want the chance of getting it into the interview pile.
While it can take hours to write your own resume from scratch, unless you do it right the first time, you won’t get the chance of an interview.
So what can you do to make those precious few seconds count? Use one of the best resume templates from Freesumes to make your job application stand head and shoulders above your competition.
Using one of our well-crafted resume templates and cover letters will send the right message to the employer that shows you mean business.