Before you get invited to an in-person job interview, there is a high chance that you will first be taken through a phone interview. This is where recruiters or employers have a chat with you over phone and get to ask a few questions.

Recruiters and employers love phone interviews because they help them to screen candidates and eliminate candidates who are not suitable without having to invest the time and effort it takes to conduct an in-person interview.

Phone interviews also save candidates who live out of state from wasting their time traveling for an in-person interview only to learn that they do not meet the requirements for the job.

Generally, with phone interviews, recruiters and employers have three main objectives:

  • Gauge your level of interest: Phone interviews are usually conducted by recruiters, rather than hiring managers. Recruiters want to make sure that they only pass along to the hiring manager candidates who have a high level of interest in the position, and therefore, they use the phone interview to gauge your level of interest.
  • Match your core skills: While the recruiter will not delve into a deep evaluation of your skills, they don’t want to waste time interviewing candidates who do not have the core skills required for the position. A phone interview is a simple and convenient way to find out whether you have the core skills they are looking for.
  • Assess your culture fit: No company wants to hire someone who is not a good fit for their organizational culture. With a phone interview, the recruiter can easily do a preliminary check to determine whether you are a good fit for the company you are applying to. To do this, they might want to know the kind of environments you have worked in before and get a feel for your mindset and personality.

One major difference between phone interviews and in person interviews is that with phone interviews, the only asset you have to sell yourself is your voice. With an in person interview, you have a lot more to help you sell yourself, including your dressing, your body language, and so on.

Therefore, to increase your chances of successfully making it through the phone interview stage, it is advisable to prepare for some of the common phone interview questions the recruiter might throw at you.

The good thing with a phone interview is that since the recruiter cannot see you, you have the option of referring to your notes while answering his or her questions.

To help you prepare for your phone interview, we have compiled for you a list of 13 questions recruiters or hiring managers love to ask. Go through them and prepare on how to answer them:


Recruiters and hiring managers love asking this question for two major reasons. First, explaining how you got to learn about the open position gives them an idea on which of their job advertising approaches is working, and allows them to fine tune their recruiting process.

Second, your answer to this question can reveal important information about you. For instance, if you learnt about the position from someone working at the company, this can be a plus for you, since your connection at the company can help vouch for you.

How to Answer

This is a pretty straightforward question, and therefore, your answer should also be pretty straightforward. Simply tell the interviewer how you learnt about the job, as well as the aspects of the job that made you apply for the position. For instance, you could say,

“I’ve always wanted to work for your company, and I have followed your company on Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with news about the company. I saw your job ad on LinkedIn, and I felt that with my qualifications, this was the perfect role for me and so I decided to apply for it.”


Recruiters and hiring managers will ask this question to learn more about you and how you fit for the position. Like I mentioned, phone interviews are usually conducted by recruiters, who might not have enough knowledge about your field.

Therefore, even with your resume, they might not understand how you fit into the role. By asking this question, this is what they want to know – how your skills, experiences, and qualifications make you a good fit for the position.

How to Answer

Even though this question asks you to walk the interviewer through your resume, don’t just rehash the contents of your resume.

Take this opportunity to tell a story that presents information that did not make it to your resume, but that still makes you a great fit for the position.

A great way to do this is to use the “Present-Past-Future” formula. With this formula, you start by explaining where you are currently in your career, then mention what you did in the past, and then explain where you want to take your career (and how the job you are applying for relates to your vision for your career). Here’s an example of a good answer:

“I am currently a content strategist at company ABC. I graduated with a literature degree five years ago and got into company ABC as a content creator. After three years as a content creator, I had proved to be very apt at running content marketing strategies, and therefore, I was promoted to the position of content strategist.

Over the course of working as a content strategist, I became increasingly interested in all aspects of digital marketing, and even took two courses on digital marketing. Therefore, when I came across your job ad for digital marketing strategists, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to take my career in the direction I wanted it to go.”


With this question, the recruiter wants to know how passionate you are about the company.

Whereas most candidates will just send applications to every relevant job ad they come across, passionate candidates take the time to research the company and find out all they can about the company and its values.

Therefore, giving a compelling answer to this question shows your level of interest in working for the company.

How to Answer

Obviously, to be able to answer this question, you will need to have thoroughly researched the company prior to the phone interview.

Don’t just check what is on their about page and assume you are done with the research. You need to learn everything you can about the company – their products, their mission and vision, their company culture, their brand, their CEO, and so on.

To do this, you need to check every source of information – the company’s website, their social media pages, their press releases, as well as any other articles where the company has been featured. Aside from explaining what you know about the company, you should also mention what you admire about the company.

Below is an example of how to answer this question:

“I know that your company is the leading career development blog. I have been an avid reader of your articles for years now, and I love your company’s commitment to helping people advance in their career. Actually, your career advice has played a significant role in getting me where I am in my career. I also follow your company on social media, and I admire the fact that your corporate culture is focused on supporting the wellness and development of your employees. Therefore, when I saw an open position in your company for which I was qualified, I couldn’t let it pass me by.”


With this question, the interviewer is trying to understand your current skill set and experience, as well as how these tie to the position you are applying for. With this question, the interviewer is also trying to see if you can communicate the value you add to your current employer.

If you cannot describe the value you add to your current employer, this shows you don’t really understand your work, and no employer wants to hire someone who doesn’t understand what they do.

How to Answer

When answering this question, highlight not only your tasks and responsibilities, but also the impact of your tasks and responsibilities on the company’s goals and objectives.

You should also mention the tools and technologies you use on a daily basis, as well as what you have learnt during the time you have held this position.

When answering this question, provide answers that are highly relevant to the position you are applying for. This allows you to show that your current skills will allow you to excel in the position you are applying for.

Below is an example of how to answer this question:

“My work currently involves ensuring that our digital marketing efforts are well optimized. For instance, in the last quarter, I helped improve the reach of our digital marketing campaigns by 60%, while at the same time improving the CTR by 35%. I noticed that you are looking for someone to help improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns, and with my current experience, I believe this is something I can help with immediately.”


On the face of it, it might feel that the interviewer is asking this question to find a reason to eliminate you from the list of eligible candidates, especially if you did not leave your last position voluntarily.

However, your answer to this question can give a recruiter some insight into your attitude, as well as your work ethic.

How to Answer

If you are leaving your current/last position out of your own volition, explain the positive reasons for the move, such as wanting to grow your career or to gain more experience in a different field.

If you are leaving because of something you dislike about your current employer, keep this information to yourself, since it will only come across as though you are simply badmouthing your current/last employer.

If your employment was terminated for whatever reason, avoid the temptation to lie. Answer honestly, but don’t dwell on the reason your employment was terminated. Instead, focus on what you learnt from the experience.

Here is a good example of how to answer this question:

“I thoroughly enjoy my current job, and I have certainly learnt a lot from it. However, I have held this position for five years now, and I feel it is time to advance my skills by exposing myself to a different work environment where I can challenge myself. When I came across your job posting, I felt this was the perfect opportunity for me to do exactly that.”


With this question, the interviewer wants to understand your motivations for seeking a new job. It is almost similar to the previous question. Your answer to this question can help the interviewer figure out if their needs and your objectives are well aligned.

It can also help the interviewer figure out if you are a good hire over the long term. For instance, if you want a position that will allow you to grow, while the position they are hiring for has no room for mobility, your answer to this question will help bring to light this misalignment.

How to Answer

People search for new jobs for two major reasons: you are either running from something at your current employer, or you are running towards something that your current employer does not offer.

When answering this question, it is best to focus your answer on the latter. Here is an example of how to answer this question:

“I feel that I have really mastered the skills involved in job X, and therefore, I am looking for a job that will allow me to hone my skills in Y.”


With this question, the recruiter is trying to gauge your level of interest in the position you are applying for.

Did you apply simply because you need a job, or is there something about this position that you actually love?

How to Answer

A good answer to this question should mention something about the position that really got you interested in the job. Go through the job description and note down one or two things about the position that you find to be the most appealing. Alternatively, you can use some information about the company itself that made you want to work for the company.

Below is an example of how to answer this question:

“I have always been interested in using my skills to champion for environmental conservation, and your company is already well-known for its campaigns for environmental conservation. Therefore, when I found an open position at your company, I felt that this presented me with an awesome opportunity to achieve my goal of using my skills to champion for environmental conservation.”


For every open position, there will be several candidates who are qualified for the job.

With this question, the recruiter is giving you a chance to show them what sets you apart from the other candidates. A similar question to this is “what can you offer us that no one else can?”

How to Answer

This question gives you an opportunity for you to sell yourself. Here, you want to talk about something unique about you that will increase your chances of performing well in the position. For instance, you could say:

“In addition to having the necessary skills and qualifications, the fact that I interned at CDC makes me a really good fit for this job. At CDC, I had access to some of the best minds and equipment in the country, and I feel that the experience I gained there will be really useful in this position.”


Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort interviewing a candidate, only to later find out that the candidate is out of their budget. This question allows them to find from the onset whether your salary expectations are within their budget.

How to Answer

Generally, discussing your salary expectations early on during the interview process is not a good idea. It best to leave this until you have shown your value to the employer and you are sure that they are really interested in hiring you.

If you encounter this question, just deflect the question with a statement like, “Right now, I’m more interested in finding out if we are the right fit for each other. I am open to a salary negotiation once we have established that.”

Sometimes, however, the interviewer might insist that you mention your salary expectations. If that happens, your best approach is to give a salary range, rather than a specific figure.

However, you should have done your research to determine the salary ranges for the kind of position you are applying for so that you do not get caught flatfooted. For instance, you could say:

“Based on my level of experience, based on the job requirements, and based on the market, my ideal salary would fall between $70,000 and $90,000.”


With this question, the recruiter is trying to find out if you will be a good fit for your immediate manager in the event that you get hired, since this has a significant impact on your likelihood of success in a given position.

For instance, if you don’t like working with a micromanager, yet the interviewer knows that your immediate manager likes closely monitoring his or her staff, then this could be a sign that the two of your will not fit together.

How to Answer

When answering this question, you might be tempted to go for an answer that you assume is what they want to hear.

However, without good knowledge of the manager you are expected to work with, your assumption is just a wild guess. Therefore, it is best to give an honest answer.

In addition, focus on what you like in a manager, rather than what you dislike. He’s an example of how to answer this question:

“I prefer working with managers who provide adequate support for their teams, while at the same time giving their team members the autonomy to make their own decisions.”


This question will be directed to candidates who live out of state. The recruiter wants to know if your current location might make you a bad fit for the job.

Of course, being unwilling to relocate doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve lost the job. Some employers are comfortable with allowing their employees to work remotely.

However, if they have to choose between two great candidates, they might go for the one who is physically available.

How to Answer

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. If you are okay with relocation, let them know. If not, explain why you will be unable to relocate, and then quickly move on to emphasize that you can still deliver even working remotely.

However, this will depend on the kind of job you are applying for. With some positions, working remotely might not be an option.


This is another pretty straightforward question. With this question, the recruiter wants to know if you can start immediately, or if you will need some time before you can start.

How to Answer

The best answer to this question will depend on your individual situation. For instance, if your current employer requires that you give a one month notice, you will obviously need to wait a month before you can start the new job.

However, if you are available to start immediately, just let them know.


Before ending the phone interview, the interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions for them. Note that this is not a trick question. The interviewer is simply giving you a chance to seek clarification for anything that might not have been made clear.

Aside from giving you a chance to seek clarity, this question also gives the interviewer a glimpse into the kind of person you are – your expertise, your values, your thinking patterns, and so on.

Therefore, you need to make sure you are asking thoughtful questions that add value, not just asking questions for the sake of it. Asking questions can also convey your interest for the position.

How to Answer

The best way to deal with this question is to prepare a couple of questions to ask the interviewer beforehand. You can ask about the company culture, the team you’ll be part of, the manager you will be reporting to, training offered by the organization, performance measurement, and so on.

If the interviewer has not made it clear, you can also ask about the next steps after the phone interview.


While phone interviews seem to be a lot easier than in person interviews, they can still keep you from getting a job you really want. To avoid this, it is best to prepare for the phone interview as much as possible, and part of that means preparing answers to some of the questions the interviewer might ask you.

Fortunately, we have already given you a list of some of the common questions you might encounter. Go through them, prepare your answers, and practice answering them, and you will definitely have an easier time during your phone interview.

13 Questions Hiring Managers Love to Ask in Phone Interviews

Comments are closed.