Person preparing for a phone interview

Nailing a Phone Interview: Tips for Success

Revised: December 20, 2023

Companies are increasingly using phone interviews to screen candidates. It's a convenient and effective way to assess potential hires early in the hiring process. If you have never had a phone interview before, the thought of having one can be intimidating. Take comfort in knowing that by understanding what to expect during a phone interview and how to prepare for it, you can approach any interview with confidence.  In this blog, we'll cover common interview questions and strategies to help you make a good impression.

The Most Common Phone Interview Questions

While the exact interview questions you can expect will vary from one role or employer to the next, some questions are relatively common during a phone interview. Examples of these questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself. This is one of the trickiest interview questions because of its inherently open-ended nature. There are many ways to answer this question, but it is generally best to focus on introducing yourself and your current role before highlighting a few of your short- and long-term professional goals. Don’t dread this question - you’ve got this!
  • What interests you about this position?
  • Tell me about your responsibilities in your current/last role.
  • Why do you think you would be a good fit for this position?
  • Why are you leaving your current job? (Or, why did you leave your last job?)
  • What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness?
  • Tell me a challenge you recently faced and how you handled it.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about our company and what we do?
  • What is your applicable experience for this position?
  • What kind of environment do you work best in?
  • How do you handle pressure?
  • What are your career goals, and how does this position fit into them?
  • How would a friend describe you in three words?
  • What are your salary expectations?

In addition to the questions you can expect to be asked, it's always wise to come prepared with your questions about the job, the workplace, and other details. Toward the end of the interview, you will typically have an opportunity to ask questions to the hiring manager or HR team. Having at least a few questions prepared here demonstrates that you've done your research, are curious, and are taking the interview seriously.

Potential phone interview questions you may want to ask during this part of the conversation include:

  • Can you describe what a typical day or week would look like in this role?
  • How many people are on the team?
  • What would the day-to-day responsibilities be of the person in this role?
  • What would be the first thing you want the person in this role to tackle after coming on board?
  • Is this a new position? If not, why did the previous person leave the role?
  • Can you describe the culture or work environment of the organization?
  • What's one of the biggest challenges the person in this role will face?
  • Who would my direct manager be? If I move forward in the interview process, will I have the opportunity to meet them?

How To Prepare for a Phone Interview

Now that you have a better feel for the phone interview questions to expect, it's time to prepare for your first one. You can do a few things in the days leading up to your phone interview that will set you up for success.

Study Potential Questions With Answers

Start with the list of questions above, and consider how you might answer each of them. Talk yourself through them aloud, or take the time to write down your answers so you can rehearse them. This will help you feel more confident when these questions arise during your interview.

Know Your Resume

Have a copy of your resume available during your phone interview so that you can refer to it if necessary. However, even if you don't look at your resume, it's essential to be able to discuss your previous work, accomplishments, and experience naturally. Take the time to thoroughly understand your resume, and use it to your advantage during the job interview.

Know the Job Description

Review the job description posted by the employer and look for connections between the roles and responsibilities of the position and your previous work experience. Making these connections will help your recruiter better understand the qualifications you bring to the table.

Know the Company

Take time to research the company. Hiring managers can tell if you haven't reviewed their website, mission, values, and offerings. If you can do so organically, making connections between your work or values and that of the company can go a long way in helping you stand out from other candidates.

Identify Any Concerns

If you have concerns or questions about the company, the position, or any other aspects, create a game plan for addressing these during the phone interview. You might write down a list of questions to ask your interviewer or specific topics to bring up that may help address your concerns.

Practice With Friends or Family

When it comes to phone interviews, practice does make perfect. If you want to practice for a job interview in a realistic setting, you can ask someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, to conduct a mock phone interview with you. They can ask you common interview questions and give you feedback on improving your answers, helping you build your confidence and prepare for the real interview.

Prepare to Sell Yourself

If you struggle to talk about yourself, you might try and move past this segment during a phone interview. Remember – hiring managers want to hear about your accomplishments and what you bring to the table, as this information helps them screen candidates and decide who will make it to the next round of interviews.

Top Tips for Phone Interviews

Seeking a few last-minute tips as you prepare for your first phone interview? Here are a few to keep in mind.

Eliminate Distractions

You should find a quiet, distraction-free area to take your phone interview. Make sure there is minimal background noise, and eliminate any potential sources of unwanted noise. (This means you should spit out that gum before taking the call!) Likewise, keep a glass of water nearby if needed during your interview. Ensure the temperature in the room is ideal so you’re as comfortable as possible beforehand.

Follow Up

Don't be afraid to follow up immediately after an interview.  Email thanking the interviewer for their time can go a long way. There's also nothing wrong with asking the recruiter directly what the next steps in the process are and what to expect in terms of follow-up from the company.

Evaluate Yourself

Reflecting on your performance after a phone interview is as important as doing it after a face-to-face interview. It helps you understand how you did and identify areas for improvement. Some people even record themselves during the interview using a camera or microphone to review later and take notes. 

Preparing for a phone interview can be overwhelming, from anticipating their questions to determining yours. Remember to allocate enough time for preparation and keep the following interview tips in mind. Through planning and foresight, you can end the call feeling accomplished and proud.

Looking for additional tools and resources to assist your job search after graduation? At Champlain College Online, we're proud to offer various student support and career resources to help you kickstart a successful career. Get in touch with our team to learn more or request information about any of our degree and certificate programs.


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