Сommon phone interview questions and answers

What is a phone screen interview? A telephone interview is a type of interview used in recruiting for searching and initial selection of candidates.

The recruiter or HR must correctly prepare for a successful phone interview. What do you need to know before conducting such an interview, what questions do you need to ask a job seeker, what are the pros and cons of this method?

The telephone interview is the primary selection process for applicants. Your initial task is to determine if the candidate wrote the truth on the resume.

In fact, as part of a phone screening, you are conducting a remote acquaintance with this person, and you need to make some first impression of him. If it turns out negative, there is no point in further steps. This way, the recruiter or human resources manager streamlines the hiring process without spending a great deal of time on personal interviews.

typical phone interview questions

Advantages and disadvantages of a telephone interview

Phone interviews as a recruiting method have several important advantages:

  • you can quickly check basic information about a person;
  • saving time: no need to conduct a personal interview with everyone;
  • the job seeker is in a comfortable environment for himself, which helps to reduce stress;
  • you can interview a candidate from another city.

Of course, there are also disadvantages:

  • you do not see the candidate, you cannot assess his emotions visually – only by his voice;
  • you will not appreciate the body language and gestures of the job seeker;
  • there is a time limit – the interview should not be too long.

With a telephone interview, you will not be able to assess all the qualities of the job seeker, but it is quite possible to conduct a preliminary assessment and decide whether to invite this person for a personal interview.

Question of time

It is recommended to limit the time of such recruiting methods as phone screening. The optimal time for such an interview is 10 minutes, and the maximum is 20 minutes. Plan your time based on the number and nature of the questions you plan to ask the job seeker. It is also worth informing the job seeker in advance about the approximate time that the phone interview will take.

A heavy workload can lead to emotional burn-out. This will negatively affect efficiency. It is better to set aside a certain number of interviews per day in advance. The best option for a beginner is several (4-5) calls per day. If you feel that your resource will be enough for more, you can increase the number, but do not overdo it, otherwise, the impressions about each candidate will mix.

man with watches

Features of a phone interview – how to prepare for it?

When using the phone, it is important to understand that you can understand the emotions and reactions of the interlocutor only by voice. Therefore, there are some peculiarities to consider here.

  • Clear structure. A telephone conversation requires a rigid structure, therefore it is recommended to immediately ask filtering questions. If the job seeker does not have critical skills, then there is no point in continuing the interview.
  • Ethics. If you speak in the presence of potential colleagues of the job seeker, it is better to immediately prepare answers to some questions that you cannot discuss with them. For example, the level of wages. Ask the candidate to tell about the requirements and comment on them.
  • Motivation is secondary. A phone interview is an initial interview, so it doesn’t make sense to go into too much detail on the motivation. If the job seeker fits in the key parameters, invite him to a personal interview or a video link conversation, where you can talk in more detail.
  • Tactfulness. If the candidate does not pick up the phone, you do not need to call him for a long time. Five beeps are enough. It is better to write an SMS and ask him to contact you when he will have free time. If the candidate responded, clarify whether it is comfortable for him to speak and explain how long the conversation will take. If not, call back at the appointed time.
  • Only – the main thing. When you call, immediately explain the purpose, ask basic questions. If you need a personal meeting, arrange it. If you have doubts about the candidacy, take a break, consult with colleagues, schedule an additional interview.

How to write questions for a telephone screening?

Recruiting always means asking questions and getting answers to them. However, in the case of telephone interviews, the “the more questions, the better” rule does not work. You are limited in time, and the task, in this case, is to preevaluate the candidate. Therefore, the questions must be appropriate. You need to get the following information:

  • basic data about the job seeker – age, place of residence, whether he is currently working somewhere or is in search,
  • reason for looking for a job,
  • financial expectations,
  • past work experience, qualifications,
  • additional skills – foreign languages, for example.

Make a list of questions in advance, there can be up to about 10 questions. Also, remember that an interview is not an interrogation. Be sure to ask the job seeker to ask questions about the job.

Phone interview script

If you are an aspiring recruiter and do not yet have much experience in recruiting, it is best to use a script phone conversation. Give or take, all telephone conversations are carried out according to a single algorithm, which will not differ significantly. A sample of typical dialogue questions is provided below..

  1. Exchange greetings and introduce yourself:
    “Hello. My name is ___ I represent ___ company. I received your application for ___. ”
  2. Explain the purpose of the call and the duration:
    I would like to do a short interview, I will take you 10 minutes.
    Is it convenient for you to speak now? ”.
  3. Determine the need:
    “Why do you want to change jobs? Why are you interested in working for our company?”.
  4. Professional questions:
    “What is your work experience? What aspects are important in your position?”
  5. Presentation of working conditions in the company:
    “The job is done remotely. You need to be in touch from 9:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. You must fulfill the following responsibilities: ___, ___, ___. ”
  6. Discussion of conditions:
    “What are your salary expectations? What kind of work conditions would you like to see?
    What do you need for work?”
  7. Questions of the job seeker:
    “Do you have any questions about the job?”
  8. Farewell.
    “Thank you for your time. You can contact me at this number if you have any questions. After 2 days (or date) we will contact you and inform you about the decision.
    Have a good day!”

This is the most basic script you can use in your phone screening recruiting process. Of course, it can be changed and supplemented. Using a script, a novice recruiter or HR will eventually develop their most effective script.

phone interview conversation sample

Phone interviews for mass recruiting: what to consider?

In some cases, a recruiter is fraught with the need to conduct massive recruitment. Typically, this method is used to attract staff to positions with basic/entry qualifications. Therefore, here the interview should be conducted in a slightly different way. Let’s highlight the main nuances:

  • the script needs to be shortened and made more capacious,
  • focus primarily on facts and professional qualities,
  • structure the questions to find out if the candidate has the key skills for the job.

As part of a massive search and recruitment of personnel, a telephone interview may be the only interview method, without further steps. Even 10-15 minutes can be enough to understand whether an employee is suitable for this job or not.

How to conduct an interview correctly?

Phone interviews are an integral part of HR work. It is imperative to conduct the interview correctly so that it is truly effective and allows you to select only those candidates who are suitable for a particular position. Here are some tips that can make your work more efficient and your selection more accurate.

  1. From simple to complicated. Always start the interview with the simplest questions so the job seeker can get into the rhythm.
  2. Checking the facts. If the candidate has indicated a specific fact or figure in the resume, add a clarifying question to the script and ask it.
  3. Listen more, talk less.
  4. Plan. For an interview, you need to set aside a time when you will only deal with calls, and nothing else.
  5. Fix. Keep notes of each interview, note important facts, ask clarifying questions.

It’s important, to be honest with the candidate. He will still find out if you lie to him or do not tell him about something. But in this case, you will not only lose potentially valuable personnel and time but also ruin the reputation – yours and the company.

woman speaking and writing

Common mistakes: what to avoid?

Errors in phone interviews are common for aspiring recruiters who don’t have enough work experience. It is better to immediately focus attention on them and avoid them than to admit them during the conversation. The most typical ones are:

  • Lack of records. You will not keep everything in your head, and you can miss important information, and with it, the candidate.
  • Distraction, lose the thread of a conversation. During a telephone conversation, it is required a maximum concentration. Listen carefully to everything the candidate says – after all, based on this information, you will decide on the next stage of interviews or hiring.
  • Don’t interrupt unnecessarily. It is tactless and gives the impression of an inattentive and indifferent listener.
  • Feel free to ask clarifying questions. The more details you get, the easier it is to form a meaningful opinion about the candidate.

How to understand over the phone that a candidate is not suitable?

The main task of a telephone interview is to weed out candidates who are not suitable. But at the same time, there is a difficulty, because you do not see the job seeker and are extremely limited in time. What to do? Several markers will allow you to weed out the wrong people, or at least treat them with caution.

  • Only financial motivation. If the job seeker talks too much about money and is only interested in it.
  • Lack of motivation at all. If a person himself does not know why he submitted a resume.
  • Discrepancies. If the resume contains some fact or figure, and the candidate contradicts himself.
  • Doesn’t know what position he wants to work in.

Also, listen to yourself. If you feel that something is wrong with this candidate, analyze all the information again, try to find the cause of doubt.

How to make election and selection easier?

There is much routine work in a recruiter’s job. It is time-consuming and contributes to emotional burnout. To avoid this, you can use recruiting software. Such services make the election, selection, and monitoring of personnel easier. For example, you can use the CleverStaff recruiting system to automate hiring and interviews. This ATS will help you with the following tasks, such as:

  • formation of a resume base;
  • comparison of candidates’ resumes;
  • scheduling work, including calls for interviews;
  • systematization of information for each job seeker obtained after a phone interview, etc.

In addition, using ATS CleverStaff will allow you to quickly and conveniently generate reports, coordinate candidates with management, and make decisions about who should be invited for a personal interview.

how to conduct a phone screen interview


A telephone interview is a personnel selection method that allows you to get primary, basic information. Based on this data, you can narrow your search and invite for an interview those candidates who seemed the most worthy and promising. Most often, a phone interview is an “emotional sale” of a job. Your words can influence the motivation of candidates – to give up the position or vice versa, to make every effort to get the job.

Plus, phone interviews have an impact on the HR brand. A recruiter is a person through whom a job seeker gets to know the employer. And if the candidate has pleasant impressions from such a conversation, this will have a positive effect on the corporate image.

A telephone interview, even for a limited time, can provide a large amount of information about the job seeker. It is important to prepare correctly, listen carefully and detail any information. With a competent approach and planning, a phone interview is an effective tool that allows you to significantly save time and resources during the recruitment process.


1. When is it advisable to conduct a phone interview?

Usually, they resort to telephone interviews for the initial selection of candidates, or for ringing through the resume, which is posted on job search sites.

2. What information will the telephone interview provide?

Using this method, you can get basic information about the candidate, his experience, motivation. In addition, a phone interview will allow you to find out the veracity of the information indicated by the candidate in his resume.

3. Can a phone interview be used as the only selection method?

Only if you are conducting massive recruitment and you need to recruit a large number of people for positions with basic/initial qualifications.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
To the CleverStaff website