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13 Best Phone Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Your job is to find the best candidates for your business, but can you be sure that they are really the right person?

It’s not uncommon to interview someone who may seem like a great fit on paper. Only to discover later that they just aren’t a good cultural fit.

As technical recruiters, we conduct phone interviews and phone screens almost every day.

To help you avoid this problem with each hire and make sure it works out. We list some phone interview questions that will give you valuable information about each candidate.

What are the Benefits of a Phone interview?

A phone interview is a great way to get an idea of the applicant’s skill level and experience, as well as their career plans.

This type of interview also allows you to screen for attitudes such as politeness and courtesy before bringing them in for a face-to-face interview.

13 Best Phone Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

1. Tell me a bit about yourself

Some people might think this question is too simple, but it’s actually a crucial part of the interview. First, it helps put the candidate at ease by giving them an easy question to answer.

Second, they may mention something related to what they want most from their next job. This can help you steer the direction of the conversation and make getting answers easier.

The best candidates have an answer prepared for this question. They should mention the skills they’ve learned from their previous work experience, and how they relate to the job description.

For example, if a candidate has spent time working at a pizza place. Then he/she can say that they’re used to working with high volumes of people in a fast-paced environment.

The best answers include phrases from the job description, demonstrating that you are both aware of what is required and enthusiastic about it!

2. Why are you looking for a new position?

This is an important question that you need to ask every candidate that you speak with.

Do they hate their job? Is the drive too far? Is the work unfulfilling? Do they want more money or room for growth? Is the company in a bad financial place? You will want to get to the true answer.

You may have to ask several different ways to find out the candidate’s true motivations for leaving their current company.

3. What about this position attracted you to apply?

The more a candidate tells you the better. Do the like the industry or perhaps technologies or equipment your company uses.

If they say well it’s close to my house and that’s the main reason then you may want to keep talking to other candidates. You are going to be investing in this person and you want them to be excited about the opportunity.

4. Tell me about your current job responsibilities

Resumes rarely tell the whole story and many candidates are not good at writing a resume, to begin with. Asking this question will give you an idea of their day-to-day work at the current job.

See if there is a good correlation with your current job opening.

5. Describe your style of work in a few sentences

We know that many people enjoy the benefits of working in a team as opposed to being stuck working alone.

However, do you think they will be able to do the independent work necessary for this position? Hopefully, your interviewee will describe how he or she works best.

6. How would your current skills be a match for this job?

The candidate needs to be able to explain how their skills will thrive in the position you’re interviewing them for. If they are not sure what skills they have that are a fit.

Then this can show a lack of research and understanding of the position.

7. Describe the workplace culture you thrive in?

Does the candidate prefer a laid-back atmosphere or something in between? Do they like doing activities with coworkers after work or just going home. Is a company that is active in the community important to them?

Whatever they say see if it lines up with your company’s culture. You want an employee that will stick around and enjoy where they are working at.

8. How many years of experience do you have with [X] Software?

If they are a mechanical engineer you may want to know how many years they have with a CAD system such as SolidWorks. If they are a software developer have many years of Java experience do they have.

Once you have established the number of years of experience using the software. Dive into how they have used the software for the past few years.

Make sure they have a good understanding of what you want them to accomplish with it.

9. What are your salary expectations?

To get a better idea of the compensation potential, you may want to ask about the salary range in a phone screen interview.

You don’t obviously have to ask this question during the initial phone interview but it may save you time. If the candidate wants 115k and your budget is 85k then you will be wasting each other’s time by having an in-person interview.

However, if you have a broad budget you may want to save this conversation until your ready to extend an offer. You can then negotiate at that point.

10. What is the most important skill you have learned recently?

You want the candidate to say something like: “In my past job, I learned a lot about JavaScript, but there’s still room for me to grow in this area.”

Another good answer could go something like this. That’s why at this time I’m looking for an employer who will give me ample opportunity and space to learn even more–perhaps you’re just the person! “

Being skilled at something is great, but it’s more important to know how the candidate’s skills are applicable and sufficient for the job.

Ask follow-up questions if you’re unsure of the applicant’s capabilities.

11. What challenges are you looking for in a position?

Great candidates are always looking for growth in their next opportunity.

A good answer might go something like this. I want to work for a company that really values collaboration, and has a healthy and supportive environment where people can grow.

I am looking for an employer with lots of opportunities to collaborate with dynamic teammates who are driven to succeed. I also need a workplace where my success is celebrated so that I can continue growing as an employee.

12. If offered the position how soon could you start?

Candidates may need to give their current employers at least two weeks’ notice before they can begin a new job. Oftentimes candidates may request even more time if they are in the middle of a big project.

If the candidate is in a contract position, needs to relocate or has other conflicts, they may require additional time.

You’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to be flexible on the start date for the right candidate or if you will have to move on to other candidates that can start within the timeline you need.

If a candidate requests more than 4 weeks before starting the job, there may be a hidden agenda or lack of real interest.

Often when candidates request far-out start dates they never start the job and find excuses to back out at the last minute.

13. Is there anything you would like to ask me?

Don’t just ask them to prove their interest in the role, make them show it. You want the candidate to be specific and thoughtful when asking questions- with a depth that goes beyond the surface level.

Ask your candidate if they did any research on your company or if they have any thoughts about the position.

The interview process is a two-way street, and you should be sure to allow time for the interviewee to ask questions. Being able to answer your candidate’s questions or concerns will give you insight into their personality.

This also lets them know that they are qualified for the position.

If they don’t have any questions it could mean several things. Such as that they think that this job isn’t right for them or not they passionate about the role.

How long is a phone screening interview?

A phone screening interview is usually a 15 to 30-minute phone call. This is perfect for getting an insight into a candidate’s personality and skill set before committing time with them at an interview.

Use phone interviews to shortlist your candidates for in-person interviews.

How long should phone interview answers be?

When speaking with candidates the right length for interview answers is generally one to two minutes. When asking factual questions, the answers should be short and to the point.

You want to keep the interview moving to get all your answers in 30 minutes or less.

What is the purpose of a screening interview?

Typically, an employer will hold phone screening interviews in the first round of hiring. They are designed to determine if an applicant is qualified for the position and would be a good fit for their company.

As one of the leading engineering staffing agencies, we help employers recruit engineering, design, and IT Talent. Contact us about our Engineering recruiting services or IT staffing services

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