Unlock the secrets of effective phone interviews with our guide. Discover the best questions to ask candidates and prepare for success.

Best Phone Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Embarking on the journey of finding the perfect candidate to join your team is both exciting and challenging. Phone interviews serve as a pivotal bridge in this process, offering you a valuable chance to connect with potential hires before that crucial in-person meeting. However, crafting the right questions for these conversations can be a puzzle in itself. Welcome to our guide on the “Best Phone Interview Questions to Ask Candidates,” where we unravel the art of effectively screening, assessing, and understanding job applicants through thoughtfully crafted inquiries. Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a business owner venturing into the world of recruitment, our comprehensive list of questions is here to empower you.

Benefits of Phone Interviews

Phone interviews offer several advantages for both employers and candidates. They provide a convenient and efficient way to initially screen and assess candidates before committing to in-person meetings. Phone interviews save time and resources by narrowing down the pool of candidates and ensuring that only the most qualified individuals progress to the next stages of the hiring process.

Additionally, they allow for a broader reach, enabling organizations to consider candidates from different geographic locations without the need for travel. Phone interviews can also help candidates gauge their interest in a role and organization without investing in a full in-person interview. Overall, these interviews serve as a valuable tool in the hiring process, facilitating better decision-making and ultimately leading to more successful hires.

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

Preparing for a phone interview is crucial to ensure you can effectively assess candidates and make informed decisions. Here are some steps to help you get ready:

  • Know the Job: Understand the job requirements and desired candidate qualities.
  • Prepare Questions: Create a list of relevant interview questions.
  • Setup: Ensure a quiet, reliable interview environment.
  • Review Resumes: Familiarize yourself with the candidate’s resume.
  • Professionalism: Be punctual, professional, and respectful.
  • Structured Rating: Use a scoring system for consistent evaluation.
  • Documentation: Take notes during the interview for reference.
  • Post-Interview Plan: Decide on the next steps after the phone interview.
  • Feedback: Provide constructive feedback to candidates.
  • Reflect and Improve: Continuously improve your recruitment process.

15 Questions to ask in a Phone Interview

Phone interviews represent a pivotal phase in the recruitment process, offering a multifaceted approach to assessing candidates. By leveraging this initial interaction, employers can efficiently sieve through a sea of resumes and evaluate whether applicants possess the necessary attributes to thrive within the organization. The paramount objective of these interviews is to ascertain whether the candidate aligns with the company’s values, work culture, and job requirements, ultimately determining if they warrant an in-person meeting.

The questions posed during a phone interview play a pivotal role in unraveling the candidate’s suitability. They serve as the first stepping stones towards understanding the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and cultural fit. Here are some of the best phone interview questions to ask candidates:

  1. Can you briefly walk me through your resume?

This is often the first question as it provides a foundation for the conversation. It allows candidates to give an overview of their work history, highlighting key experiences and skills. It’s essential for understanding their professional journey and qualifications.

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

Beyond assessing the candidate’s interest in the role, this question also gauges their understanding of your company’s values, mission, and culture. A candidate who has done their homework is more likely to be genuinely interested and aligned with your organization.

  1. Can you describe your experience with [specific skill or technology relevant to the job]?

For technical or specialized roles, this question is critical. It helps you gauge the depth of their expertise in the specific areas required for the job. Tailoring the question to match the role’s technical demands ensures a more precise assessment.

  1. Tell me about a challenging project you’ve worked on. What was the problem, and how did you handle it?

This question delves into the candidate’s problem-solving abilities and their approach to overcoming obstacles. It provides insights into their resilience, creativity, and adaptability in the face of adversity.

  1. How do you prioritize and manage your work to meet deadlines?

Time management and organizational skills are fundamental in any role. This question allows you to gauge how effectively a candidate handles their workload, manages competing priorities, and meets critical deadlines.

  1. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to work as part of a team to achieve a goal?

Teamwork and collaboration are vital in most workplaces. This question assesses the candidate’s ability to communicate, cooperate, and contribute effectively within a team, emphasizing their interpersonal skills.

  1. What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?

Beyond showcasing accomplishments, this question provides a glimpse into a candidate’s values and what they find personally rewarding in their career. It helps you understand their motivation and what drives them to excel.

  1. Describe a situation where you had to adapt to change. How did you handle it?

Adaptability is a highly sought-after trait, especially in today’s dynamic work environment. This question allows you to assess how well a candidate copes with change, whether it’s a shift in roles, procedures, or organizational structures.

  1. How do you stay updated with industry trends and developments?

A commitment to continuous learning and professional growth is vital. This question explores a candidate’s dedication to staying current in their field, whether through courses, certifications, or industry publications.

  1. Do you have any questions for us?

Concluding the interview with this question not only allows candidates to seek clarifications but also demonstrates their engagement and preparation. Their questions can provide additional insights into their interests and priorities.

  1. How do you handle conflicts or disagreements with colleagues or supervisors?

Conflict resolution and interpersonal skills are critical in maintaining a harmonious work environment. This question invites candidates to share their approach to handling challenging situations professionally.

  1. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to take initiative to solve a problem or improve a process?

Proactive problem-solving is an asset in any role. This question assesses a candidate’s ability to identify issues and take constructive action to drive improvement.

  1. What are your long-term career goals, and how does this position align with them?

Understanding a candidate’s aspirations and how they perceive the role fitting into their broader career trajectory is essential for ensuring alignment and long-term commitment.

  1. How would you describe your communication skills, and can you provide an example of a situation where effective communication was critical?

Effective communication is often a key requirement in various roles. This question allows candidates to articulate their communication style and showcase their ability to convey ideas clearly and collaborate effectively.

  1. Can you tell me about a project that didn’t go as planned? What did you learn from it?

Learning from failures and setbacks is a hallmark of a resilient and growth-oriented individual. This question offers insights into a candidate’s adaptability and capacity for improvement.

Incorporating these questions into your phone interviews, tailored to your specific needs, can help you gather comprehensive information about candidates, enabling you to make well-informed hiring decisions that align with your organization’s goals and values.

How Long is a Phone Screening Interview?

The duration of a phone screening interview can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the role, the number of questions asked, and the candidate’s responses. However, most phone screening interviews typically last between 15 minutes to 30 minutes. 

What is the purpose of a screening interview?

The purpose of a phone screening interview is to conduct an initial assessment of a job candidate to determine if they meet the basic qualifications and requirements for a position.

The ideal length for your phone interview answers is typically concise and to the point. Generally, your answers should be about 1-2 minutes in length. It’s important to provide enough information to address the question comprehensively without going into excessive detail or giving overly lengthy responses that may risk losing the interviewer’s attention.

How Can PSM Help?

Choose PSM as your recruitment and staffing solution. We streamline the lengthy interview process, saving you valuable time and reducing the burden of hiring in today’s fast-paced world. Our dedicated team at PSM takes care of every step, from initial phone interviews to the final stages of hiring and seamless onboarding. With our comprehensive support, you can confidently focus on growing your team and business. Contact us to get started!

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About the Author

Caitlin Bergsma
Caitlin Bergsma

Caitlin is an accomplished Marketing professional with an unwavering enthusiasm for the dynamic world of the IT industry. Caitlin's journey in the field began after earning her Bachelor's degree in Health Communications from Trinity Christian College, where she honed her skills and developed a keen eye for identifying market trends.

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