18 Top Phone Interview Questions for Selecting the Right Candidate
HR Management and Recruitment Tips and Resources

18 Top Phone Interview Questions for Selecting the Right Candidate


As a recruiter, phone interviews are your first opportunity to determine whether a candidate possesses the skills and qualifications required for a particular role.

And, if you want to make the most of this initial interaction, you need to ask the right questions.

This way, you can extract meaningful information from candidates and make informed decisions about who should progress to the next stages of your hiring process.

In this blog post, we'll explore 18 phone interview questions that can help you identify the perfect candidate for your team.

18 Best phone interview questions

Phone interview questions - 18 best questions

Here are some great questions to help you get the most out of your phone interviews.

1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

This classic opening interview question will help you learn more about a candidate's experience and qualifications.

It allows you to understand how they choose to present themselves, what experiences they consider most relevant, and how well they align their background with the role's requirements.

2. Why are you looking for a new position?

With this question, you can assess the candidate's motivations and expectations.

It will provide valuable insights into whether the candidate is seeking professional growth, a better work environment, a change in career trajectory, or if there are any concerns with their current job.

From the candidate's response, you can determine if their aspirations align with the open position and your organization's culture.

3. What about this position interests you the most?

By asking this next question, you can understand what aspects of the job resonate with the candidate and if they've taken the time to research and reflect on the position.

It's your way of ensuring the candidate isn't just looking for any job but is genuinely excited about the unique aspects of the position you're hiring for.

4. Why do you want to work for us?

Asking a question like this allows candidates to highlight how well their skills and career goals align with the company.

It's also a great way to assess whether the candidate has done their homework on the company's values, culture, and mission.

5. Can you tell me what you know about the role?

Phone interview questions - Can you tell me what you know about the role?

Has the candidate taken the time to research the company, understand the specific responsibilities of the role, and grasp how their skills align with the job requirements?

This phone interview question will help you find out.

6. What makes you a strong candidate for this position?

From their response to this question, you can gauge the candidate's expertise and achievements, as well as see how they stand out from other candidates.

It will help you discover whether or not they're well-suited for the position.

7. Can you elaborate on your experience with [specific skill or technology], and how you've applied it in your previous roles?

If you want to assess a candidate's practical knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and hands-on experience, this question will make it easier for you to do so.

8. Tell me about your current or most recent job. What were your daily roles and responsibilities?

This will help you gain a clear understanding of the candidate's recent work experience and daily responsibilities.

You can use their response to assess their role-specific skills, the tasks they routinely handle(d), and how well their contributions correlate with the open position's requirements.

9. What are your salary expectations?

It's always good to ask this question early on to determine whether their expectations align with your company's budget for the position.

It will also help you avoid any potential misunderstandings later in the hiring process.

10. Are you interviewing with other companies?

You must properly understand a candidate's job search approach and commitment to the role/company.

By asking this question, you can ensure that their job search is well-planned and focused, rather than haphazard.

Plus, from their answer, you can determine how quickly you need to move forward with your hiring and decision-making process.

11. What is your ideal work environment?

This phone interview question will help you get a glimpse into the type of workplace that best suits a candidate's working style and preferences. Their response will reveal whether they'd thrive in your company culture.

12. How does this role align with your long-term career goals?

The candidate's response here will indicate if they've considered their future career plans and envisioned the role's impact on their professional growth.

Ideally, you should look for candidates whose long-term objectives align with your company's objectives and vision.

This helps to ensure a match that benefits both the individual and the organization in the long run.

13. How do you handle stress/tight deadlines?

With this question, you can discover how well a candidate can manage stress, work under pressure, and meet challenging timelines.

Look out for candidates who share real-life examples to effectively buttress their answers.

14. What style of coaching do you respond to?

Asking candidates about their preferred coaching style can help you predict how well a candidate might collaborate with their future manager.

Since managers have diverse working styles, understanding the candidate's preference can provide insights into potential compatibility.

15. Can you describe a challenging work situation you faced and how you handled it?

Phone interview questions - Can you describe a challenging work situation you faced and how you handled it?
Source: Freepik

This question presents an opportunity for candidates to showcase their problem-solving abilities and demonstrate their capacity to handle tough situations in the workplace.

It allows you to understand their thought process, decision-making abilities, and resilience, as well as see how they approach challenges in a professional setting.

16. If offered the position, how soon could you start?

Asking about the candidate's potential start date helps you assess their availability and readiness to join your company.

You can then determine whether or not their timeline aligns with the company's hiring needs.

Plus, if the candidate is currently employed elsewhere, it lets you quickly discover if they're open to a quick transition.

17. What didn’t I ask you about but should have?

With a question like this, you'll allow the candidate to highlight specific skills, experiences, or achievements that may not have been covered in the interview.

This, in turn, may significantly impact your hiring decision, as it provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the candidate and what they can contribute to the role.

18. Is there anything else you would like to know about the role or our company?

You should always set aside some time for candidates to ask you any questions they may have.

It will allow them to clarify anything about the position or your organization that they're unsure about.

For you, though, the question helps you see how interested and prepared the candidate is. Did they do their homework on the company? Do they have thoughtful questions that go beyond the basics?

That's why it's important to ask this question, typically at the end of your phone interview.

If a candidate doesn't have any questions, it may mean they're not very passionate about the role.

Tips for conducting a phone interview

Keep these handy tips in mind before, during, and after your phone interviews:

1. Adequately prepare for the interview

First, you must take enough time to prepare to make the most of your interview.

One way to do this is by researching the candidate. Review their resume, scan their LinkedIn profile, and check for common contacts to gauge their experience and network.

Be careful when exploring a candidate's social media presence, as you may unintentionally favor or reject candidates based on biased opinions like age, ethnicity, or gender.

Even though we've given you some questions, researching your candidates will provide valuable information that you can use to formulate other interview questions you feel may be necessary.

2. Schedule the interview

When scheduling the interview, choose a time that suits you and the candidate. Be mindful of time zone differences and try to accommodate the candidate's availability.

3. Remain fully engaged during every call

Remember that a phone interview is often a candidate's initial interaction with your organization.

This is why you need to maintain an upbeat tone and make a good first impression by bringing the same level of energy to each call.

If needed, take breaks between calls to stay fresh and focused. It's all about making each interaction count.

When going from one interview to the next, you might be tempted to rush through the same set of questions for each candidate.

To avoid this scenario, try not to schedule your calls one after the other.

You must also set aside an appropriate time and location to conduct the phone interview without noise or other distractions.

4. Use an AI-powered notetaker like Fireflies

Phone interview questions - Use an AI-powered notetaker like Fireflies

One great way to candidates actively keep a record of your candidates' responses is by taking notes. Here's the thing, though: doing this manually can be distracting and can negatively affect your engagement in the conversation.

However, you can easily avoid this with an AI-notetaker like Fireflies!

This AI meeting assistant records, transcribes, summarizes, and analyzes all your meetings and calls with over 90% accuracy. It can take notes from meetings across video conferencing platforms, dialers, and even audio/video files.

Fireflies' features make it easy to revisit key interview discussions and make your candidate evaluation process more thorough.

Key features of Fireflies

  • Automatically generates highly accurate meeting transcripts in over 60 languages. These transcripts come with time stamps and speaker labels.
  • Allows you to upload interview files in various formats (MP3, M4A, WAV, or MP4) so it can transcribe and summarize them.
  • Provides impressive AI-generated summaries of all your interviews. These summaries are customizable and contain overviews, action items, outlines, and keywords.
  • Aside from dialers and video conferencing platforms, Fireflies integrates with several other tools, including CRM and collaboration apps. You can also use Fireflies API to integrate with major Applicant Tracking System platforms and eliminate manual data entry.
  • Makes handoffs easy by letting you create and share important soundbites from the interview. You can turn these soundbites into a collection of playlists.
  • Lets you collaborate on interview transcripts with your team using features like comments and reactions.
  • Provides Smart Search to help you quickly review lengthy calls using AI Filters, Sentiment Filters, and Topic Trackers.
  • Documents and organizes your meetings into different Channels.
  • Offers Conversation Intelligence capabilities — using 10+metrics, you can easily eliminate unconscious hiring bias, analyze the sentiment of your interviews, and more.
  • Allows you to download transcripts in PDF, DOCX, SRT, CSV, or JSON formats.
  • Lets you playback recordings at 5 different speeds for quicker review: 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x.
  • Syncs your meetings across all your devices so you can conveniently review calls anytime and anywhere.
  • Offers iOS and Android apps so you can transcribe your phone interviews on the go.
  • Provides a GPT-4-powered meeting chatbot, AskFred, which can answer your questions about your calls and generate follow-up content, including follow-up emails.
  • Prioritizes your meeting security. Fireflies is SOC 2 Type 2, HIPAA, and GDPR compliant, and it keeps all your data encrypted at rest and in transit.

The best part? You can get started with Fireflies for free or access a 7-day free trial of its highest pricing tier.

💡 Enhance your phone interview experience using Fireflies

By providing highly accurate interview notes, summaries, and insights, Fireflies ensures that your hiring and decision-making process is as seamless as possible!

Ready to get started with us? Try Fireflies for free!

5. Keep the interview brief

A typical phone interview session should last 15-30 minutes. Avoid covering too many topics or questions quickly, as this may overwhelm the candidate.

Instead, concentrate on a few key questions that can give you better insights into the candidate. And while we've provided you with sample questions, it's not necessary to ask all of them.

6. Always explain the next steps

Inform the candidate about the timeline for the hiring process, including when they can expect feedback or updates.

This transparency fosters clear communication and helps manage the candidate's expectations.

The takeaway

And that's a wrap! With these helpful phone interview questions and tips, you can effortlessly uncover the right candidate for your organization.

What's more, Fireflies streamlines your candidate selection process by transcribing, documenting, and analyzing all your phone interviews.

Try Fireflies for free