Knowing what questions to ask in a phone interview can make all the difference between getting a callback or being put on the back burner for a position during your job search.
Quick tip: what is a phone screen interview?
A phone screen interview is commonly the first conversation you may have with the HR representative, talent acquisition representative or recruiter working for the hiring company or event a recruitment agency, executive search firm or staffing agency.
The screening interview typically lasts a maximum of 30 minutes and has the sole purpose of understanding your fit and whether or not you should move to a more formal interview in person or again via the phone or even a video interview on via one of the common video conferencing software platforms such as Skype, Zoom or GoToMeeting.
During a phone interview or in some cases a phone screening interview, the questions to ask include should include a combination of basic questions, job-related questions, and cultural fit questions.
While the right questions to ask during a phone interview will vary a bit based on your position, these are some good questions to ask to make sure you fully understand what’s being offered to you and what they’re looking for in a candidate.
These questions to ask HR and phone interview tips will help you walk into the face-to-face job interview with a much better understanding of what’s ahead. Let’s begin with some common phone interview questions.
The 13 Basic Questions
When figuring out some good questions to ask during a phone interview, always start with the basics.
- Where do you think this company will be in five years?
- What’s this company’s most important asset?
- How would you rate the competition?
- Could you describe a typical work week here?
- Could you describe the typical client/project I’d be dealing with?
- What are the most important elements for my position?
- Why is this position now open?
- What was the last person like?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- What did the last person go on to do?
- How often are performance evaluations?
- What are the three main factors you’ll use to determine if I’m the right fit?
- Which qualifications of mine most appealed to you?
The 7 Job-Related Questions
The types of questions to ask in an interview don’t stop with the basics. You’ll also want to know these questions to ask HR, the hiring manager or the recruiter about the job and job posting itself.
- What goals do you expect me to achieve in this position during the first 30 days?
- How was this job performed in the past?
- What will I be doing in this position a year from now? Will it change at all?
- What would you like me to improve over previous performances?
- How does “X” (key job element) get done here?
- What types of skills do you NOT have on board yet that the new hire needs to have?
- If I started today, what would you advise me to learn first?
The 11 Cultural Fit Questions
The list of questions to ask phone interview conductors isn’t over quite yet. You’ll also want to know these questions to ask in phone interview meetings regarding the cultural fit of the organization.
Since this will definitely factor into your success and morale, you should not skip these questions to ask a recruiter during a phone interview.
- What do employees like the most about working here?
- Does the company have a formal recognition program?
- What type of work do managers delegate to staff?
- What recognition have you recently given to staff?
- Who did you recognize and why?
- Has anyone been promoted in the past 2 years?
- Why was that person promoted?
- What would peers say the manager does well?
- How do employees spend their spare time?
- What opportunities are there for professional development and training?
- Does the company celebrate special occasions? What was the last celebration the department held?
What questions to ask at a phone interview extends beyond the position and company itself. We’ll only count one of these questions to ask after a phone interview since you should just pick one of these questions to ask the employer during a phone interview.
- Do you have any reservations about my fit for the position that I might be able to address?
- I feel like I’d enjoy working here, do you think I’m a good fit?
- Now that we have discussed my qualifications and the position, do you have any concerns about my candidacy?
The 2 Final Questions
There is absolutely no excuse. You get an answer to these questions to ensure that you have covered all bases.
- What’s the next step?
- When can I expect to hear back?
These two final questions to ask in a phone interview may seem pushy to you, but they close the interview on a strong note. These questions with a recruiter conclude with the notion that you are interested in the position and excited to move forward and in most cases will help you to define if after applying for this position you yourself wish to proceed further.
Running Short On Time?
Don’t hesitate to write down these questions to ask a recruiter during the phone interview. Knowing the right questions to ask during the screening interview with the recruiter is vital to your success.
It is not uncommon for the initial phone screen to only take 30 minutes. So make sure you not only spend time researching the company but also the questions you should ask them during the whole interview process.
Avoid Setting Off Red Flags
Note, if the person interviewing you gets the feeling you have not spent time researching the company this could be a red flag to them or the hiring manager. Successful recruiters with a lot of recruiting experience pick up on red flags easily. Spending time learning about the company and company culture will clearly show you are genuinely interested in the position.
Prioritize Your Questions
All of the above-listed questions to ask a recruiter during a screening interview are important, but if you’re running short on time, you may forego a couple of the questions to ask during the phone interview that get a bit redundant just to make sure you get to the most important ones.
For instance, you may not get into previous employee recognition. You might, however, feel it is important to address office celebrations. Likewise, if you feel that you already have a solid understanding of the position itself, you may focus on the questions to ask the recruiter during the interview that are focused on the company’s needs.
Likewise, foregoing questions to ask HR during a phone interview regarding what the previous hire went on to do may not be as important as remembering the questions to ask HR interviewer about what the last hire did well–and what the company is hoping to see you improve upon.
Hopefully, you will have plenty of time to get across all of the questions to ask the interviewer during the phone interview that is on your list. The questions to ask after phone interview (the trial close) are also important. However, if you run short on time, you can at least feel well knowing you didn’t run short on questions to ask HR interviewer on the other end!
This list should fully equip you with the right questions to ask a recruiter during phone screen. The list of question to ask during a phone interview may be tweaked a bit according to your needs and any time constraints, but these questions to ask during a phone interview are pretty straightforward.
Now You Know What Questions To Ask In A Phone Interview
There you have it, these are some good questions to ask on a phone interview.
Coming up with phone interview questions to ask employer recruiters on your own can be difficult, but thanks to this list, you’ll know what questions to ask without any difficulty.
These questions will lead you right into the questions to ask HR during interview meetings being held face-to-face, so be sure to write down all the answers you get.
Don’t forget, you will be asked questions too.
You will also need to answer recruiter interview questions during a phone screen interview too. While it is super important you prepare and diligently ask your own questions, here are some common basic interview questions the recruiter, HR or hiring manager may ask you:
- Why are you applying for this position?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Why did you leave your last 3 positions?
- What areas of this job posting most appealed to you?
- Why do you feel you are a great fit for this position?
- Which parts of the job posting do you believe you will excel in and which parts do you believe you would like to improve in and get additional training for?
- How far into your job search are you?
- When are you available to start?
- Have you ever had a conflict with a staff member or colleague before and if so how did you manage it?