Top 11 Phone Interview Questions and Best Answers
If you have a phone interview coming up, there are some questions you are very likely to be asked… and practicing them can immediately help you feel confident and be ready to “wow” the interviewer so you can move on to the next stage!
I’m going to walk you through the most common phone interview questions and best answers, so you can get hired faster.
Let’s get started…
Phone Interview Questions & Best Answers
Question 1: “Tell me about yourself?”
The key here is to be concise. The best answers to this interview question will be 2 minutes or less.
To answer, walk them through your recent career (employment history, or academic career if you just graduated).
Start with how you got interested in this field, or how you got started on this career path. And finish your story with your current situation. What you’re looking for now in your job search, and why.
Along the way, highlight accomplishments and achievements. Any promotions you got are worth mentioning. Key job changes as well, if you have any.
More info on this specific question: Answering “tell me about yourself” in an interview.
You might also be asked: “Describe yourself”. Similar question, and here’s how to answer.
Question 2: “Why are you job searching?”
If you’re unemployed, be direct and say so. BUT – have a good reason for why you want this particular job too. This is super important. Employers want to feel like you want their job, not just any job. I can’t stress this enough.
If you’re currently employed but job searching to find something better, keep it positive. Focus on what you want to gain in a move. “I’d love to find an opportunity that will give me a bigger chance to lead and manage projects”, etc.
Don’t badmouth your current job or employer, and don’t talk about the bad things you’re looking to escape or get away from. Just keep it positive and focus on what you’d love to gain by changing jobs.
That’s how to give the best answer in your interview.
Question 3: “How did you find out about us?”
This next common phone interview question is pretty simple. The best answers will be straight-forward and clear.
These are all good answers to give:
- You found them researching online
- You were familiar with them before you started job searching
- You found them in a press release or news article
- A colleague told you about them
- A recruiter contacted you about them
Here’s a full article on how to answer “how did you find out about this position?”
Question 4: “What do you know about our company?”
The best answers to this interview question will show off your knowledge and prove you did some research before applying for the job.
Employers do not want to hire someone who’s just applying to every job, and not taking the time to learn anything about the company. They want someone who applied for a reason and wants to work at THEIR company.
Here are some things to know before going into the interview, so you can give the best possible answers to this phone interview question.
- How many employees they have? (check on LinkedIn)
- Who is their CEO? (check on LinkedIn)
- When and why were they founded? (check their website’s “About” page)
- Do they have a mission statement?
- What do they sell, and who is their typical customer?
- Who are their biggest competitors?
Question 5: “What about this position interested you?”
Just like phone interview question #4, above, the interviewer wants to see that you have a real reason for wanting THIS job, not just any job. I can’t stress how important this is to them.
Giving the best answer here involves three pieces:
- What you’re looking for in your job search.
- What you noticed about the job, while reading the job description, etc.
- How the two of them match up. Where the similarities are, and why that made you excited to apply for this particular job.
If you can’t answer this question, you aren’t going to get hired for a good job. Put a lot of time and effort into preparing an answer for this question; it’s absolutely worth it.
Need more info: Here’s our full write-up on answering “why did you apply for this particular position?”
Question 6: “What other jobs have you been looking at?”
A lot of job seekers panic when they hear this question, but this common interview question is not difficult to answer.
Here’s why employers ask. Once you understand this, it’ll be very easy to give a great answer to this interview question:
They ask this question to make sure their job fits the general theme of what you’re looking for.
That’s it. Really simple.
Your answer is only going to worry them or raise a “red flag” if all the other jobs you’re applying for are WAY different than this job.
Example: I was interviewing entry-level job seekers for positions within the recruiting agency I worked for. We were hiring and growing fast.
I asked this interview question to a candidate. And they said they had applied for 10 positions in Public Relations and Writing. And this was the only recruiting job they had applied for.
That’s going to raise some concerns.
So to give a great answer here, you ideally want to show the employer that their job fits within the general theme of other jobs you’re looking at. That’s it!
They aren’t asking to try to uncover some details on which companies you’re talking to, or any of that.
And if they do ask for company names, you can refuse by saying, “I’d like to keep the names of the other companies confidential. I’d do the same for your company if another interviewer asked me.”
That’s it! That’s how to respond to this phone interview question with the best possible answer.
If you need more info… here’s a detailed guide on the best answers for “where else are you interviewing?”
Question 7: “How have your interviews been going so far?”
This is another phone interview question that scares a lot of job seekers. Most of the time, they’re just asking to get a sense of how your job search is going. It’s not a question with a “right” or “wrong” answer.
In general, the one thing you don’t want to do is sound like you’re struggling, frustrated, or not getting interviews.
You can always say: “I’m just beginning to take interviews, but it’s going well so far, and I’m excited about how things are looking.”
That’s not a lie – if you’re interviewing with this company, you’re taking interviews. Right? So even if you’ve been struggling or haven’t’ had any other interviews, you can still say this to avoid sounding like it’s not going well.
If you’ve had a few interviews but got rejected, you can say “I’m still early in my search. I’ve taken a couple interviews so far but haven’t found a great fit for what I’m looking for”.
Just be ready to explain what you’re looking for. If you can’t do this you should go back to questions #4 and #5 in this article.
Question 8: “Tell me about your current/most recent job. What did you do?”
For this phone interview question, be ready to answer with specific accomplishments, and details.
What did you learn? What technologies/tools did you work with? What results did you help your company or group achieve?
This is one of the most important answers you’ll give, and this one single answer can often decide whether you get invited to the next round or not.
Think about it- they are trying to find a certain skill set for their job opening. And they’re going to decide who to hire based on how you describe your past work.
They’re looking for it to be as relevant as possible, so prepare by studying the job description and mention things that will be relevant for their particular job!
Question 9: “What are your salary expectations?”
Do NOT give a number here. If you say a number that’s too high, you’ll scare them off. If you go too low, you’ll hurt your negotiating power later. It’s a no-win situation for you.
They’re not even sure they want to hire you or continue interviewing you yet, so you have absolutely no leverage. They’re just gathering info that will help them.
Here’s the best answer to this question:
“I don’t have a specific number in mind. Right now I’m focused on finding the position that’s the best fit for my skills and my career. Once I’ve done that, I’m willing to consider an offer you feel is fair for this role.”
If they push back, just reiterate that you “don’t have a number in mind yet”.
Want more help? Here’s a full article on how to answer (or not answer) salary expectation questions.
Question 10: “When can you start?”
If you’re currently employed, it’s a good idea to give a two-week notice to your current employer.
Don’t feel pressure to say less than this.
In fact, most decent employers will judge you negatively if you don’t give a proper notice period to your current company. Because they’ll be thinking, “won’t this person do the same to us when they leave? And what does this mean about their accountability and ethics?”
So, the best answer to this interview question is just an honest, clear response with the notice period you’ll need. If you need an extra week off after that, say so.
And if you’re unemployed, you can still tell them you’d like one or two weeks before starting.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to be able to start within one month from the time you accept a job offer. And slightly less if you’re unemployed right now. 2-3 weeks maximum.
Question 11: “What questions do you have for me?”
Always have questions to ask. It can make the difference between getting hired and not getting a callback after the phone interview. I’ve seen it many times as a Recruiter.
Avoid asking about:
- Working hours
- Anything else not related to the actual work you’ll be doing
For what you SHOULD ask about, you can get a ton of great ideas in this list of 100+ questions to ask in your interview.
Other Questions You Might Hear:
We just covered the top 11 questions, but if you want to practice even more, here are some additional questions you could be asked in your phone interview:
And if you’re applying for jobs in a different city or state, you might also be asked how soon you can relocate, whether you’ll require relocation assistance, and more. So be ready for that type of question too!
Don’t Risk It…
Each phone interview is a chance to grab the interviewer’s attention and convince them to invite you to the next round… if you give the right answers.
So go in prepared! Study these questions above, practice some answers at home, think about the different topics these questions are based on, and you will get hired much faster (and feel more confident in your interviews).
And if you want more help…
If you want proven answer formulas and word-for-word answer examples for every question above and over 100 more, I recently put together an interview answer guide where you can copy my exact method for getting hired, without any stress. Details are here.