21 Phone interview questions and answer

Employers usually conduct the phone interviews to shortlist the best candidates from the huge pool of talent, whom they would like to see for a personal interview. Recruitment is a time consuming job and the telephonic interviews provide the recruiters a good opportunity to screen the best candidates.

You might feel that a phone interview is easier to manage which it of course is for the convenience of location it offers to you but don’t be mistaken to take it lightly. All the etiquettes and tips that you have learnt for a personal interview apply as it is to a telephonic interview as well.

To succeed in a phone interview make sure that you take it as seriously as a personal interview. Some things which you should essentially practice to crack that first round of interview and see the interviewer personally are –





1. Avoid distractions


It is important to schedule the interview at a time when there are minimum number of distractions. If you are at work during the time of interview, schedule it during the lunch time or after the work hours.
If you are at home, make sure that you are away from the television and in a separate room where there is no other noise.

2. Facial expressions and body language

It may sound odd but yes, the facial expressions and body language also get conveyed through your words. A gentle smile and a confident body language will definitely help you in coming across as a better candidate.

3. Use a phone with good connection

The phone connection in a telephonic interview is vital. If you are using a cell phone, make sure that the battery is fully charged, the phone is getting full signals and the waiting calls do not keep beeping in the background. A land line is usually free from all the problems. Prefer to use it over a cell phone whenever possible.

4. Listen carefully and speak clearly

Make sure that you listen carefully to the questions. If you think you may have not understood the question clearly, you can word the question in your words and ask it again to be sure. Make sure that you speak clearly, slowly and your voice is loud enough.

5. Don’t rush

Many candidates feel that they need to answer every question very quickly in a phone interview. However, if you take a moment or two to compose your thoughts before you actually start speaking, it is absolutely fine even in a phone interview too.

6. Have a glass of water ready on your desk

Some times the interview might stretch longer and you may feel a need to moisten your throat. So, keep a glass of water ready at your desk.

Now that we have the tips to face the phone interview, let us see some questions that you might be asked during the interview and the ways to deal with them:

Please tell me something about yourself.

This question is an ice-breaker and is asked to open up the communication. However, it also offers you the opportunity to prove that you are the best choice for the position under discussion. In your phone interview, answer this question by providing some information about your relevant work experience and any specific qualities you possess or projects you may have done which can add value to the job under discussion. You can also talk about your educational background if it adds some value to the job you are being interviewed for.

It is extremely important to be enthusiastic during a phone interview. The interviewer is not able to see your body language or facial expressions but they can definitely feel the enthusiasm and smile in your voice.

Why did you apply for this job?

This question should be answered by relating the requirements of the job with your work experience, personal qualities and education background. Keep the answer focussed on the requirements of the job rather than talking about how the job can help your career grow and earn more.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

There can be enormous reasons for you to leave the job but keep the focus of your answer on the potential of the new job to offer you more responsibilities and challenges & hence an opportunity to grow as a professional and improve as a person.

Why do you think we should hire you for this position?

A company hires an individual if it believes that he can perform the job under discussion. To perform a job you require a set of technical skills, accompanied by some personal qualities. Some of these skills and qualities get developed as grow and gain some professional experience.

So, focus your answer on the qualities and skills you possess which will help you do the job well.

Relate to the job requirements, as listed in the job notification with your candidature and say that since you meet all these requirements, you think that you should be hired for this position.

Of course the confidence in your voice will get reflected as you speak over the phone.

Can you describe your current duties?

Keep a list of your major duties ready as you start sending your job applications. This will also prevent you from applying to a wrong job.

When faced with this question, list out your major duties and also talk about your major achievements pertaining to these duties. The employer is more interested in knowing what did you do with the assigned duties.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Through a personal interview, the interviewer tries to find out how ambitious the candidate is. Recruitment is a costly affair, so, he tries to understand if the candidate is over-ambitious to stay with the company for some year or months.

While answering this question, convey that you are ambitious but would not switch the job soon after joining for a couple of thousands. Rather, you would try to grow with the company.

To answer this question, you can say something like – “5 years down the line I see myself in a responsible position where the company treats me as its assets and gives me an opportunity to be a part of important decisions”.

Why should we invite you for a personal meeting?

Basically, the telephonic interviews are conducted to save on the time and meet the most relevant candidates.

To answer this question you can say something like “ I believe, I possess the experience and qualities required to do this job very well. I have given you a glimpse of what I have done for my employers in the past and I am sure that you will find it interesting to find out more about how can I add more value to your company. A personal meeting with you will provide us an opportunity to discuss my suitability for this position in more detail. And, I am sure that you will find it interesting.

What are your key strengths?

The strengths which will help you perform your job better will the ones most interesting to the interviewer. So, before you take up the call, read the job notification carefully and be ready with some qualities you possess that will help you do the job well.

If you believe that you lack some major quality that is required to do the job well, say that given an opportunity, you can quickly learn it. Back this up with an example from the past where you learnt things quickly and did well in the job. This should of course be said in a confident voice.

What are your weaknesses?

Every one in this world has some or the other weakness. So, it is OK for you also to have some.

To answer this question, you can offer a weakness totally unrelated to the job i.e. something that will not have any impact on the way you perform your duties. For e.g. if you don’t know how to cook, it is going to be immaterial to your employer.

You can also take the word “liberally” and offer a weakness like “my child”, “ice creams”, “pizzas”.

What experience do you have in “a particular area”?

The interviewer might be asking you this question because that “particular area” might be the “key performance area” for that role.

If you possess experience in the domain/ area the interviewer is talking about, tell him that I possess a good experience in this area and then go on to discuss some important nitty gritties. You may also want to quote some example from past which demonstrates your performance in that field.

For e.g. If the interviewer asks you about your experience in dealing with press, you can refer them to some of the items that you got released to the press and some other online material that supports your answer. Once an interviewer asked me about my experience in writing the press releases and getting them released. The best thing I could think of was to refer them to my online press releases. My work actually spoke for me and they were quite impressed with it.

Remember, while in a telephonic interview, the chances of an interviewer sitting in front of a laptop connected to Internet are higher, so you can use this interview in your favour by providing them an example of your work even when they can’t see your portfolio.

Are you open to relocation/ night shifts?

One of the reasons for conducting a telephonic interview is that the interviewer is calling up from some far off place and is looking for a candidate to be placed there.

Similarly, if the interviewer asks about your openness to work in night shifts, they might be considering only the candidates who can work at night.

Be straight forward with your answer in both these cases. If you are sure that you can not relocate or work in night shifts, inform them right away. Wasting their time and informing about your inability to work at the required location or time at a later stage would just irritate them.

However, if you are open to but unsure about relocating or night shifts for this particular job, keep the discussion open and ask them for more job details that you would like to know before considering a relocation/ night shift. Now, request them to provide you some time to discuss this with the family. Also, tell them that you will be back to them with an answer in a day or two.

Make sure that you keep your commitment of informing them on time.

Are you open to travelling? How many days in a month will you be able to be out of the city overnight?

Again, travelling might be the key requirement to take up a job which you will get to know through the job notification or during the interview. If you are sure that you can not travel due to some personal reasons, inform the interviewer right away.

However, if you are open to consider travelling depending on the position and chances to grow, tell the interviewer that “I am open to travelling but before making any specific commitments, I would like to know more about the job.”

On a scale of 1 -10, how would you rank yourself in “a particular field”?

Again, an interviewer will usually ask this question for a field which is of prime importance to the job. If you think you flair well in that field, rate yourself and convey it in a confident voice.

You can also take the help of an example from the past where you did really well in that field. This will further justify your answer.

What do you know about our company?

It is extremely important to research the company well before you take the interview call. Your answer to this question shows your interest in the job and company.

Your inability to answer this question satisfactorily simply conveys that you are not serious about the position under discussion as you have come unprepared.

Make sure that you have seen the company’s website and have information about the events/ activities if the company has been in news recently.

What do you know about this position?

Your answer to this question again demonstrates your preparation for the interview and your seriousness about the position.

Make sure that you have read the job requirements carefully and understood them well. This question also gives you an opportunity to relate your experience and skills to the requirements of the job and show the interviewer that you are the most suitable candidate for the position.

Describe a situation in which you led a team.

You can expect this question especially if you are being interviewed for a middle or senior management position. Through this question, the interviewer tries to find out about your ability to take people along with you and get the job done successfully. Your communication skills and ability to build up confidence in people play a major role here.

Take an example from the recent past where you worked in a big team and led the group. Focus your answer on the fact that you were able to achieve the results successfully with every one being ready to co-operate willingly as they believed that it was their project.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Take an example from the recent past to answer this question. An example from a very long past would mean that you have not achieved anything that big since then.

How much salary do you expect?”

Since this is the first round of interview it might be difficult to specify a salary until and unless you know the job in detail. To answer this question, you may say something like “I would like to find out more about this position through a person meeting with you. I believe it will be better on my part to discuss the salary after knowing all the details of the job.”

However, if you are pressed to spell out a figure, give them a range like 20 K – 25 K rather than mentioning a specific figure.

When could you start working here?

An interviewer would usually ask this question when he is somewhat convinced that you are a suitable candidate for the job and wants to check your availability.

So, provide him a time frame keeping your notice period in mind. Don’t get too excited as this is the just the first round of interview.

When would you be able to come in for an interview?

Again, the interviewer will usually ask this question when he thinks that you are a suitable candidate and wants to see you for a personal meeting.

Fix up a mutually convenient time. If you are going for the interview in your working hours, make sure that you take a leave from the office. This would further strengthen interviewer’s belief in your integrity.

Do you have any questions for us?

This is usually the last question of an interview. Most of the candidates answer this question with a plain “No”. However, “No” as an answer to this question might convey that you are not very interested in this position or company.

Have some intelligent questions ready about the job/ company to ask the interviewer. These can be questions about your growth prospects, work environment etc.
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This is the question asked by HR professional's at Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.
KANIKE BALAKRISHNA 06-17-2016

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