Phone interviews are usually your first chance to speak to a human decision maker. Use this list of common interview questions and sample answers to help you make a lasting first impression.

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What are Phone Interviews?

Recruiters, HR departments and hiring managers use phone interviews to help narrow the list of qualified candidates for an open position. Phone interview questions measure your communication and understanding of job requirements and responsibilities.

1Initial phone screening:

This is usually the first round of interviews. HR managers or recruiters will call and ask about your resume or qualifications to help narrow down the number of candidates.

2Manager screening:

This is typically the second or third interview. A manager familiar with the open job and related responsibilities will measure your familiarity with job responsibilities and relevant tools or skills.

3Virtual phone interview:

Virtual phone interviews are a common first step in the interview process to remotely measure your skills and qualifications before hiring managers invite you to an onsite or virtual panel interview.

4Virtual panel interview:

These interviews can be conducted onsite or remotely via Zoom, Google Meet or Skype.


How to Prepare for an Upcoming Phone Interview

Like all interviews, you should prepare. Check that your camera and cell service are in working order, and have your resume, a bulleted list of achievements and job-related questions on hand.

With the proper preparation, you can confidently ace your phone interview.

1Test your phone and cell service

Ensure your phone is fully charged and capable of accepting cell and WI-FI calls. If you know when and where you’re taking your call, have a friend call you to test your cell service strength. The last thing you want is your call dropping mid-interview.

2Test the video and audio

If you’re invited to a virtual video call, test out the video call app beforehand. Download the virtual video app to your phone or computer, set up an account, and double-check your voice and video settings at least a day before your call. This can help you avoid feeling flustered or coming across as unprepared.

3Pick the right environment

A fully charged phone, good cell reception or a working video stream won’t matter if you’re in a loud or high-traffic area. Make sure you take your call from a quiet, secluded place free of distractions to concentrate on over the phone interview questions. Find a place with good lighting if you’re on a video call.

4Prepare your resume and notes

Since we strongly recommend you write unique resumes for each job opening, have a copy of your resume before you can easily reference specific examples and expand on them.

5Practice answers to common phone interview questions

Create a master list of core skills, accomplishments or impressive details that elaborate on your resume. Regularly reviewing and revising this list means that your career accomplishments are fresh in your mind during interviews. Practice different ways to phrase your answer, but avoid memorizing scripts. An overly rehearsed answer can be too stiff and hide your personality.

6Familiarize yourself with the STAR method

The STAR method refers to a structured answer formula where you describe a specific work situation, related task, chosen action and final result. This interview strategy helps you express your critical thinking, management and leadership skills with practical work examples.

7Prepare some questions about the job, company or expectations

A phone interview is a mutual chance to learn about each other. Prepare questions about the job responsibilities and expectations, the existing team or processes and the company culture. This can help you decide if the job opening fits your five-year plan or exhibits any red flags.


20 Common Phone Interview Questions and Answers

Try practicing answering typical phone interview questions to make the most of your interviews. Practicing your answers can help you get comfortable using action verbs and power words to describe your accomplishments. Practicing also keeps your work history fresh in your mind. Find additional common interview questions here.

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Phone interviewers use “tell me about yourself” to learn about your personal and professional motivations. Use this opportunity to highlight transferable skills, career goals, education and training, or personal values related to the work.

Sample answer:

“I’m a skilled illustrator with over seven years of experience in children’s literature. I specialize in watercolors and photorealistic animal sketches. Major publications have featured my work, including Penguin Random House and Tor. I am eager to partner with your represented author to help complete her kid-friendly intro to science series.”

2. What interests you about this position and our company?

Motivated employees are more likely to finish tasks quickly, collaborate with team members and contribute to the company. Hiring managers use this question to measure your compatibility with the workplace.

Sample answer:

“I’m drawn to 23andMe because of your commitment to expanding cultural heritage knowledge and empowering customers to learn more about your familial and medical histories. Your commitment to genetic mapping aligns with my interest in human migration patterns, and I am excited to contribute my clinical expertise to your testing lab.”

3. How did you hear about the job opening?

Hiring managers can spend thousands to fill one position. Some employers ask this question to learn which recruitment channels reach qualified candidates. They can use this information to redirect their recruiting budget.

Sample answer:

“I partnered with a reputable recruitment agency to find positions aligned with my experience, interest, and professional values. I was excited to learn that your company was hiring since I’ve long admired your affordable suite of productivity tools and your associated scholarship fund.”

4. What do you know about our company?

Employers use this question to see how well you are prepared for the interview. Your level of effort can demonstrate attention to detail, research skills, and analytical skills.

Sample answer:

“Although I’m unfamiliar with your company, I know that you specialize in using AI, data analysis, and word maps to create smarter corporate live chat systems. As someone who’s worked in customer service, I’d love to contribute to a more seamless online experience.”

5. Can you describe your relevant work experience?

Typical phone interview questions aim to learn about your working style, thought process and career highlights. This question gauges whether you have enough relevant or transferable experience. Your answer can also demonstrate your keen understanding of the tasks and tools required for the job.

Sample answer:

“Although I’m a recent finance graduate, I’m grateful for two internship opportunities at Bank of America and Fidelity. During my BofA internship, I honed my skills in financial analysis, which came into further development and practice during my time at Fidelity, where I partnered with junior analysts to track and monitor stock market fluctuations.”

6. How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses?

Hiring managers ask about strengths to ensure your knowledge and understanding of your tasks align with the job needs. They ask about weaknesses to measure your self-awareness and self-motivation to improve, adapt, and approach professional development.

Sample answer:

“One notable weakness of mine is public speaking. To improve my presentation and communication skills, I signed up for an Intro to Theater college course and joined a debate club. I’m actively practicing in my free time and hope to see notable improvements as I grow more confident in my delivery.”

7. Can you walk me through your resume?

Keep a copy of your resume nearby so that you can quickly reference it and elaborate on essential skills or accomplishments as you elaborate on your skills and achievements. This makes it easier for you and the phone interviewer to track your progress through the document.

Sample answer:

As you can see under my skills section, I’m familiar with multiple architectural software, including Rhino, Grasshopper, ArchiCAD, and Bleubeam Revu. My previous experience includes internships at David Baker Architects and Studio O + A, where I partnered with lead architects to restore and renovate urban structures with sustainable and accessible practices.”

8. How do you handle stress and tight deadlines?

Phone screening interview questions about handling stress or assess your ability to handle pressure, prioritize tasks and maintain composure during bottlenecks. This helps hiring managers learn about your coping mechanisms, problem-solving skills, and other attributes that make you a reasonable candidate.

Sample answer: 

“I approach stress by prioritizing tasks and breaking them into manageable steps. I also maintain open communication with my team, seeking support when needed. Regular breaks, mindfulness techniques, and a proactive approach to problem-solving help me stay focused and effective under pressure.”

9. What skills and qualifications make you a strong fit for this position?

Hiring managers use this phone interview question to measure your understanding of the job’s requirements and responsibilities. Your answer helps them measure your self–awareness and ability to link existing skills to the marketed tasks.

Sample answer:

“I have strong legal research and writing skills, developed through my previous experience as a paralegal for Los Angeles County District Attorney offices. I’m proficient in case management software, subpoena filing and drafting, and possess strong knowledge of legal procedures and evidence logging.”

10. Why are you looking for a new job opportunity?

Hiring managers ask about your reasons for seeking new opportunities to understand your motivations, career goals, and whether the position aligns with your aspirations. This phone screening interview question helps assess cultural fit, commitment, and the potential for long-term collaboration.

Sample answer: 

“As much as I appreciated my time at the DA’s office, I’ve grown exceedingly concerned by the disproportionate numbers of marginalized defendants who take plea deals despite the lack of strong evidence against them. Your firm’s commitment to providing free and low-cost legal services to these communities resonates with my values — I’m eager to help these clients access fair trials.”

11. How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?

Interviewers use phone interview questions like this or “How do you approach a problem,” to learn how you adapt your thinking process under stressful situations. Walk the interviewer through the stages of research, planning, and execution to demonstrate your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Sample answer: 

“I prioritize tasks by assessing deadlines and importance. I create a daily schedule, breaking down projects into manageable steps. I use task management tools like Trello to help keep track of projects and related tasks. Daily task lists and adjustments ensure efficient time management, allowing me to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality work.”

12. What is your preferred working style and environment?

With in-office, hybrid, remote and multi-office workplaces, every company culture is unique. Hiring managers use this question to decide if you’ll thrive or adapt to their existing work style and office setting.

Sample answer: 

“I thrive in a collaborative environment where communication is open, and ideas are shared. I appreciate a mix of independent work and team collaboration. I am adaptable, valuing efficiency and results, and I find a balance between structured processes and creative problem-solving.”

13. Describe a successful project you worked on and your role in it.

Over-the-phone interview questions about a specific project evaluate your contributions, problem-solving skills, and collaborative ability. Your answer should provide insight into an accomplishment and draw direct connections to the needs of the job.

Sample answer: 

One of my key wins included leading a team of five as we implemented an innovative marketing campaign. My role involved liaising with my team, independent content creators and influencers to help promote a new meal-kit delivery service. The project led to a 340% increase in impressions and a 210% increase in sales and subscription signups.”

14. How do you stay updated on industry trends and developments?

Hiring managers use questions like this to measure your proactive approach to staying informed and contributing to your professional growth. They also use this question to determine if you rely on reliable, reputable or relevant resources for your career knowledge.

Sample answer: 

“As a budding anthropologist, I stay updated by regularly reading industry publications, attending webinars, and attending notable seminars and conferences in my area. Additionally, I am an active member of the American Anthropological Association and enjoy informal debates with my colleagues.”

15. Can you provide an example of a situation where you had to take the initiative?

Hiring managers ask about taking the initiative to assess your proactivity, problem-solving skills, and ability to drive results independently. Your answer provides insight into your resourcefulness and leadership potential. You can also use your answer to put yourself on a management career track.

Sample answer: 

“In my previous role, I identified an efficiency gap and implemented a streamlined process, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity. This initiative demonstrated my ability to identify opportunities, take ownership, and drive positive outcomes.”

16. What are your long-term career goals?

Hiring managers ask about career goals to learn about your professional aims, potential commitment, and job aspirations. Your answers help gauge your motivation, potential for sustained contributions, and suitability for future manager positions.

Sample answer: 

“My long-term goal is continually evolving as an impactful biology educator, integrating innovative teaching methods. I see this teaching position as crucial in achieving that goal, aligning with my dedication to fostering students’ passion for science and lifelong learning.”

17. How do you handle feedback and criticism?

Hiring managers use questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” to measure your potential commitment and alignment with the company’s long-term plans. Tailor your answer to highlight your broader career aspirations, demonstrating your motivation and potential for long-term engagement.

Sample answer: 

“As an assistant editor, I aspire to be a skilled and collaborative editor with strong relationships with my authors. I see this junior role as a stepping stone to furthering my career within your renowned publishing house.”

18. What do you believe sets you apart from other candidates for this role?

You can use your answer to highlight your interest in the role, connection to the company mission, unique background or skills, or your strong understanding of the role’s requirements. Your answer provides insight into your confidence and ability to quantify your experience.

Sample answer: 

“My unique blend of marketing and presentation skills combined with my commitment to respectful and collaborative environments makes me the ideal candidate for your fledging in-house advertising. We can build an innovative and diverse team of skilled marketing associates.”

19. Can you discuss a time when you had to meet a challenging deadline?

Hiring managers ask about meeting challenging deadlines to assess your time management, resilience, and problem-solving skills. Your answer provides insight into your ability to perform under pressure and deliver results in demanding situations.

Sample answer:

“In my previous role, I successfully met a tight deadline by prioritizing tasks, collaborating with the team, and utilizing time-management strategies. The experience showcased my ability to thrive under pressure and deliver high-quality work efficiently.

20. Do you have any questions for us?

Your interview is a chance to question the recruiter or hiring manager and decide if it’s a mutual fit. Questions to ask during phone interviews include the job expectations, the company goals, the current team dynamic, career growth possibilities or workplace culture.

Sample questions to ask during a phone interview:

Can you tell me more about the job responsibilities? 

What are some standard tools/resources your team uses? 

What does your team do to unwind after a significant project? 

Can you tell me more about the company’s mission?



Answers to Avoid

Phone interview questions aim to learn about your strengths — the following answer types can highlight negative traits.

Visit our “How to answer negative interview questions” article to learn how to reframe your answers. 

  • Negative or critical comments:

    Do you like working with negative people? Hiring managers usually seek to fill 40-hour shifts, so they must find candidates with strong interpersonal skills and relevant knowledge.

  • Unrelated personal information:

    Although sharing common interests or motivations for a job is positive, avoid getting your answers too personal.

  • Generic answers:

    Phone screening interview questions aim to learn about you! Generic answers don’t share your key projects, accomplishments or motivations. Interviewers can’t gauge your suitability for the opening if you rely on vague answers that don’t highlight or back your accomplishments.

  • Salary discussions:

    Bringing up salary during your interview is delicate and should be strategic. Don’t mention salary during your first interview; broach the topic after you’ve expressed genuine enthusiasm for the position, and share your flexibility towards salary and benefits.


Key Takeaways

To make the most of your upcoming interview, keep the following in mind:

  • Test your phone, computer, and service to ensure a smooth connection.

  • Choose a quiet environment. If prepping for a video call, choose a professional backdrop and outfit.

  • Practice common phone interview questions and answers.

  • Research the company, have a copy of your resume, and jot down key achievements.

  • Practice the STAR method for behavioral questions.

  • Avoid over-rehearsing your answers to give you some flexibility during your interview.

Phone Interview FAQ

What questions are asked in a telephone interview?

Typical phone interview questions serve three purposes: to learn about your qualifications, motivations, and personality. Most questions fall into the following categories.

  • Quantitative: Description-based questions that aim to learn about your hard skills and technical skills, accomplishments, and professional knowledge of your responsibilities. 
  • Behavioral: Personality-based questions aim to learn about your soft skills and personal management style.
  • Motivational: Questions like what you like least about your job, what motivates you, or where you see yourself in five years aim to learn about your drive.

How do you ace a phone interview?

To ace a phone interview, start with thorough preparation.

  • Test your interview equipment and choose a quiet environment. 
  • Dress professionally to boost confidence. 
  • Research the company and keep your resume on hand. 
  • Practice common questions, use action verbs, and use the STAR method to structure your answers. 
  • Follow up with a thank-you email, highlighting specific discussion points to reinforce your interest and gratitude for the opportunity.

How long should a phone interview last?

30-minute phone interview questions typically last half an hour, though a successful interview might last a few more minutes. If the interviewer asks additional questions that extend the interview time, that’s a reassuring sign that your answers are impressive and relevant.

How serious is a phone interview?

As the first interaction with a real person, phone interviews are crucial! This is your chance to make a positive first impression and re-iterate your qualifications and enthusiasm for the job.