Top 10 Phone Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates

Great phone interview questions will help you uncover the best candidates in less than 15 minutes. Discover which 10 phone interview questions you should be asking your job candidates to find out everything you need to make an informed decision and select the top candidates.


What is a phone interview?

Phone interviews are conducted by employers in order to screen job applicants. 

This is why phone interviews are also known as phone screens. 

Basically, phone interviews are an initial conversation between employer and candidates in a form of a quick chat. 

The goal of this chat is to establish if a certain candidate is suitable for the position employer is looking to fill. 

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Why should you conduct a phone interview?

Phone interviews are primarily used as a screening method which helps an employer determine if the candidate is suitable for a position and worth calling in for a face to face interview.

By conducting phone interviews in the early phase of the interviewing process, employers can save time and money that would otherwise be wasted on meeting unsuitable candidates face to face. 

Phone interviews are also a common part of the hiring process for positions which require great telephone communication skills. 

Here are the top 4 advantages of phone interview screening:

  1. Saves time

  2. Saves money

  3. Eliminates unsuitable candidates

  4. Test candidates’ phone communication skills.


Phone interview duration

A typical phone interview takes for about 15 to 30 minutes.

How to conduct a phone interview?

Here is a cool video which outlines how to conduct an effective phone interview in 9 easy steps:

Additionally, I would like to highlight a key to conducting an effective phone interview - consistency.

What do I mean by consistency?

I mean asking each candidate the same questions in the same order. In other words, your phone interviews should be planned and executed as a structured job interview.  

That way, you will be able to eliminate variability from your interview process and compare candidates much easier and make a more accurate evaluation. 

What type of questions should you ask candidates in a phone interview?

An initial, screening phone interview should be brief and focus on questions which can help employers determine if the applicant is a good fit for their open job position and company culture

The best phone interview questions are those which will help you check if the candidate:

  1. Understands the job

  2. Meets the job requirements

  3. Fits in your company culture

  4. Has reasonable salary expectations.

I suggest using short and simple questions that don’t require too much too much thinking on the candidate’s part.

Remember, this just a first, initial screening. You will have plenty of time to ask more complex interview questions in the later phases of your interviewing process.

Interview questions such as behavioral interview questions, problem-solving interview questions, analytical interview questions and other types of complex interview job questions are more appropriate for a face to face discussion. 

Top 10 phone interview questions - and how to use them

From my previous experiences, as well as talking with many HR professionals and recruiters, I have developed a list of the top 10 questions you should consider asking your applicants in a phone interview.

These top 10 questions are carefully crafted to help you cover all the most important topics in the shortest amount of time. 

While I strongly recommend developing customized phone screen questions for each of your open job positions, these top 10 phone screen best practices interview questions will provide orientation and serve as a guide.

List of the top 10 phone interview questions

Here is the list of the top 10 phone interview questions to ask job candidates:


Phone interview question #1: Opening question

How did you find out about our job opening? 

Phone interview question #2: Assess interest

What made you apply?

Phone interview question #3: Assess motivation

What excites you most about this position?

Phone interview question #4: Assess work history

How many years of experience do you have in [insert appropriate job position/industry]?

Phone interview question #5: Assess qualifications

Do you have a [insert appropriate must-have qualification, such as certification, driver license, etc.]?

Phone interview question #6: Asses experience

Do you have experience using [X] software in any of your previous jobs?

Phone interview question #7: Assess company culture fit

What type of workplace culture do you thrive in?

Phone interview question #8: Check affordability 

What are your salary expectations?

Phone interview question #9: Check availability 

If we were to ask you in for a face to face interview, when would you be available?

Phone interview question #10: Give the candidate a chance to ask questions

Would you like to ask me anything?

By asking these 10 questions phone interview questions, you can successfully screen applicants and get the data you need to make a truly informed decision.

Looking for more examples of phone interview questions?

If you’re looking for more great interview questions to ask candidates, check out these resources:

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