How to Conduct a Proper Phone Interview +Sample Questions

When hiring, you don’t want to be wasting time meeting candidates who don’t meet the requirements of the job. Instead, your goal should be to narrow down the candidate pool to a manageable size so you can better identify the candidates who will be right for your role.

A way to efficiently and effectively weed out the candidate pool is through phone interviews. Phone interviews allow you to better assess the candidates’ character on top of what is written on their resumes. During the candidate phone interview, their answers to key screening questions will allow you to determine their fit for the roles at hand, giving you a better chance at placing the right candidate.

It is important that your phone interview has a general structure with key screening questions, this will allow you to better compare candidates across the spectrum. The phone interview will also help you determine their social and interpersonal skills, helping you make a better judgement of the candidate and how they’ll fit in the position. All this will help save time for both you and the candidate, allowing you to more quickly narrow down to a list of promising candidates.


Sample Interview Questions to Help Conduct the Best Phone Screening

The best way to get the most out of your screening phone interview is if you have a general guideline and structure. Think about the following areas when you interview each candidate.

General Information

Start with general questions, this will help you break the ice and give you a better understanding of the candidate.

  • Where are you in your job search?

  • Why are you leaving your current role?

  • When can you start working?

Salary Expectations

You should clarify early on in the phone screening the expectation candidates have. This can help you save time and help you get a grasp of the negotiation by knowing whether they are making more than what you expect to offer.

  • How much are you making in your current/ most recent role?

  • What is your expected salary?

Professional Tip: To avoid unnecessarily wasting time, it is crucial to understand the financial fit. So in they are unwilling to give an expected salary at first, it is good practice to come back to it afterwards.

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Reason for Change

Examine their reasons for leaving and motivations to better determine whether the new opportunity is right for the candidate.

  • What attracted you for apply for this position?

  • What are the key reasons for leaving your most recent job?

  • What do you want to get out of your next role?

A professional recruiter will take note of the candidates aspiration and motivations, as these will shed light on the nature of the candidate and possible issues that may occur along the way, determining whether they will be a fit for the new position.


Knowledge and Understanding

If it was a scheduled phone screening, this will be a good time to see if the candidate has taken time to do some previous research on the company. Otherwise, it is also an opportunity for you to clue them in on what to expect.

  • What attracted you to this role/ organisation?

  • What do you know about the company and its products/ services?

Professional Tip: Keep it brief. At the moment, there’s no need to over sell the role. Simply get a basic understanding of what they know and share with them remaining details so candidates may have a more realistic expectation of what they’re signing up for.


Individual Experience

Make sure to take the opportunity to make this phone interview a personal one by asking the candidate about their personal experience which can be seen in their resume.

Do they have a jumpy CV or have they perhaps worked in the same job for a long period of time? Also use this time to raise any concerns you may have.


Additional Questions

  • How long do you see yourself in this role?

  • What do you hope to get out of this job?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Professional Tip: At the end of the phone interview, you may want to ask the candidate if they have any question for you, this can help settle any queries or misunderstanding before moving onto next steps.

Screening Out Red Flags

Make sure to look out for warning signs during the phone screening, this can help you save time further down the line. Some red flags may include:

Negative comments towards former employers

  • Be careful of candidates who are quick to place judgement and badmouth their current or previous employers. While the other party may be at fault, it is definitely a bad sign if the candidate does not seem to take any responsibility or is excessively negative in their critique.

Distracted or showing little to no interest

  • You want a respectful candidate who is willing to set aside time for the phone interview. If the candidate seems uninterested or distracted, it may be that they are not the best candidate for the company.

Foul language

  • Depending on the culture of the company, light cursing may be tolerable. However in the context of an interview, it may be unprofessional to do so.

Following up from the Phone Interview

Beat your competition to the right talent. Use phone interviews to narrow your pool of candidates so you can more effectively get to the best people for the job. Start taking effective measures to find the people you need.

Our team of staffing experts can help you with phone interviews and thorough candidate screening. Get in touch with us today or leave your details on our website so we can get in contact with you.

If you’ve found this article helpful, don’t forget to check out others from our Ultimate Recruitment Guide series. There, you’ll find more help tips and tactics to reaching the best talent. 

More from this series, “The Ultimate Recruitment Guide”:

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Leave the heavy lifting to us. We can help you with your phone interviews and candidate screeningFind out how we can help you grow your business and reach your career potential, contact us now.

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