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Home 17 Common Questions and Answers for Phone Interviews - Unified Career

17 Common Questions and Answers for Phone Interviews - Unified Career

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There are certain questions that you will be asked in a phone interview. Practice them to feel confident so you can impress the interviewer and move on to the next stage.

So you can get hired quicker, I will walk you through some of the most common questions you might be asked during a phone interview.

Let's get started...

Questions and answers for phone interviews

1 - Tell me about yourself

Conciseness is key. This interview question requires 90 seconds to answer.

Answer in chronological order. Start with your career path or how you got to where you are today. Next, talk about the key achievements and career moves that you have made. Include any promotions that you have received.

Mention at least one thing that makes you unique and memorable (e.g. "In my previous job, I worked with Tesla to design their latest battery monitoring technology."

Then, finish the story by describing your current situation. Please describe what you are looking for in your job search.

For a complete sample response, see below or our article on how you can answer "tell me more about yourself".

Example Response:

"I graduated with a Chemistry degree five years ago. After three years, I was promoted to the position of Project Manager in Pfizer's cancer research division. This role has been my Project Manager for 2 years and I was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award this year. It's all going well, but I want to make my career even more successful by leading larger teams. Your job description mentioned that this was an opportunity to lead 8-10 people. I was excited to learn more.

2 - Why are you job hunting right now?

Be direct if you are unemployed. But, you should also have a reason why this job is important to you. This is crucial. Employers want you to feel that you are interested in their job and not just any job. This is something I cannot stress enough.

Keep your outlook positive if you are currently employed and job hunting for a better job. Focus on the benefits you are looking for in a job. "I would love to have more opportunities to manage and lead projects," etc.

Do not criticize your employer or current job. Don't discuss the negative aspects of your current job. Keep it positive and think about what you would love to achieve by switching jobs.

Sample answer if you're unemployed:

"I was laid off four month ago, so I am actively looking for a job. I am looking for a job that will allow me to continue my development as a customer service supervisor. This job is why I am so excited about it.

If you are currently employed and job hunting, please use this sample:

"I have learned a lot and enjoy my current job. However, I've been here for four years and feel that I need to challenge myself in a new environment. Your job description mentioned ___. This is something I want to do in my next job. I thought this job would be a great opportunity to apply and to have a discussion.

3 - How did you find out about this job?

These are the best answers to this question. They should be simple and direct. These are great answers to how you heard about the job.

They were found online through research

These were your first job search.

They were mentioned in a press release, news article or other media.

You were told by a colleague about them

You were contacted by a recruiter about their company


Below are some word-for-word answers. You can also read our entire guide on "How did you discover about this job?"


"I was recommended by a colleague to your company. To learn more, I visited your website and found this job. It looked like a great fit for me and could help me advance my career. I was eager to find out more and schedule an interview.


"A recruiter reached out to me last week. The position seemed like a good fit for my skills, so I became interested."

4 - What do you know about our company?

This question will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and show that you have done extensive research before applying for the job.

Employers won't hire someone who is just applying for every job and not learning anything about the company. They are looking for someone who is motivated to work at their company and has applied for the job.

We have an article that will help you with company research before you interview.

For help in answering the interview question after you have done your research on the employer, see the sample response below or our complete article on how to answer "What do you know about our business?"


"I'm aware that you are one of the most respected alarm system manufacturers in America. I looked at your website and found that alarms are made for offices and buildings as well as homes. I did some research on your corporate culture. It sounds like you support your employees' development and are active in community service. This is something I care about, and it's what attracts me to employers.

5 - Why would you like this job?

Employers want to know why you are interested in this job. Not just because you need it. You will not be hired if this isn't the case.

Two key elements should be included in your response to the phone interview question:

What you are looking for in your job hunt overall

You noticed something about their job that you found exciting or that matches your goals

Let's now look at an example to answer the question "Why did you apply for this position?"

Example answer:

"One of my key goals in my job search is to be able to interact more closely with clients and customers. This is something I enjoy, but it was a little too much for me at my previous job. Your job description indicated that half of the job involves interacting with clients either by phone or in person. This excited me.

6 - What other jobs have you been interviewing for?

Employers ask this question because they want to ensure that their job matches the overall theme of what you are looking for.

If all other jobs that you are applying for are significantly different from this one, your answer will only be a concern or raise a red flag.

To give an excellent answer, tell the employer that the job they are applying for fits with the overall theme of the other jobs you are looking at.

If they ask you for company names, you have the option to decline by saying "I would like to keep the names confidential of other companies." If another interviewer asked, I would do the same thing for your company."

Check out the examples or our guide to answering questions about "What other companies are you interviewing?"

Example answer:

"I have been interviewing and applying at small and medium-sized banks and financial institutions like yours. I spent my first four years of my career at Bank of America. I am now looking for a smaller environment to expand my skills. However, I would prefer to keep the names and addresses of other companies secret. If another employer asked me, I would do the same for your business."

7 - How far is your job search?

Employers will ask these questions during a phone interview in order to get a feel for how you are doing. They also want to know how interested other companies are and how soon they might be able to offer you a job. If they like you, they won't move too slow and lose the chance of offering you the job.

You don't want your answer to sound desperate for a job.

You can always say, "I'm just beginning to interview, but it's going so well so far."

You can claim that you have not found the right match yet if you have tried a few interviews and they did not go well. You might say, for example, "I have had a few phone interviews but have not found the right fit yet."

Example answer:

"Things have been going well so far. I am just starting to take phone interviews and I'm still early in my job search. I hope to be able to do some face-to–face interviews very soon.

8 - Please tell me about your last job. What did you do each day?

Answer this interview question with specific achievements and details.

What were you able to learn? What specific technologies and tools did you use? What were the results you helped your company or group achieve?

Before you interview, prepare specific details. You should be able to discuss the results of your work and how they helped your company save time, money, etc.

You want to make sure your examples are relevant to their needs. Prepare by reading the job description and then mentioning things that are relevant to this job.

Answer to a phone interview example:

"I was responsible for ensuring that our website was up to 100% as much as possible in my last job. The best result in our company’s 29-year history was achieved last year when we made some important changes and optimizations right after I was hired. Your job description indicated that you are looking for someone capable of doing similar work to you. Your company is at a similar stage as my previous employer, in terms of growth and size. It's something that I can help with right away in this position.

9 - What salary expectations do you have?

Please do not give a number. You'll make them nervous if you give a number that is too high. If you go too low, you'll hurt your negotiating power later. This is a losing situation.

You don't have any leverage as they aren't sure if they want to hire or continue interviewing with you. They are just collecting information that will assist them.

For this interview question, the best strategy is to tell them that you don't know a number yet. This will ensure that they don't try to push you or pressure with multiple questions.

This is how you answer the question in a telephone interview.

"I don’t have a number in mind. Right now, I am focused on finding the right job that suits my skills and career. Once I have done that, I am open to any offer you make.

If they try to push back, you can simply repeat "I don't have a number yet."

Here's more information on answering salary expectations questions.

10 - What time are you available?

It's usually a sign that the interview went well if they ask you this question late during a face-to-face interview. If they ask this in a telephone interview, it's usually a sign that they are trying to gauge your availability and current job search situation.

Tell your employer if you are currently employed that you would need to give two weeks’ notice to your employer (or whatever standard is in your company).


"I would need to give my employer a notice of two weeks. After that, I would like to have one week off before I start. This would allow me to be available for three weeks once a job offer has been accepted.

You can tell the employer if you are unemployed that you would like to be employed one or two weeks prior, but it is up to you. For an example of how to do this, see the script below:

I could start one week after accepting the job offer. I have a vacation in May so I would need to be off for a week, but I could still start.

If you are applying for jobs in another city or state, you may be asked when you can move, if you will need relocation assistance, and other questions. You should be prepared for this type of question!

11 - What questions do you have for me? 

Ask questions of the interviewer. This can make the difference between being hired or not after a phone interview. It shows your interest in the job and shows you aren't desperate.

Ask about the job duties, goals and the company as a whole, the training you will receive, how your performance is measured, and any questions regarding the interview process (such as "When can I expect feedback?").

Here are some questions you can ask recruiters when you interview for a job.

12 - What kind of work environment would you prefer?

Employers are looking for a person who is compatible with their workplace. This is not the same as determining if you are a good fit for their job.

So after some of the competency-based questions in the interview, they'll likely ask about how you prefer to work, types of companies/environments you've enjoyed in the past, etc.

You can answer by either describing an environment you feel is similar to theirs or demonstrating that you can work in many environments.

This guide will help you answer the question "What type of work environment would you prefer?"

13 - What questions do you have for me? .

Interviewers may ask you why you believe you will succeed in your job. Do not be shy when answering this question. This is your chance to be confident and to explain how you can help them and how your experience will benefit their job.

More information on "Why do You Think This Job Would Work Well for You"

14 - What motivates and inspires you?

No matter your talent/qualification, motivation is an issue that every employer faces. Your work will suffer if you don't feel motivated to come to work every day. They're likely to ask a few questions via phone to get to know your motivations, interests, and so forth.

One of the most frequently asked questions is "What motivates you to get up each morning to go to work?"

If you want to impress an interviewer with this question, you should be able name something other than money. Think ahead and think about the reason that you are giving.

15 - How would you describe yourself?

As they get to know you, the interviewer might ask you an open-ended question such as "How would you describe yourself?"

Be professional and don't talk about your personality or other attributes as an employee. If possible, give an example.

Example answer:

"I would describe myself as being detail-oriented and team-oriented. In my current job, for example, I manage multiple projects and coordinate with 10-15 people from different departments every day. I also have to report milestones on projects to clients, so I need to be very organized.

16 - Please walk me through your resume.

Interviewers often ask "Walk me through my resume" as one of their first questions. This breaks up the ice and allows them to get to know more about you.

Interviewers may also enter your phone screen without reading through your resume. This is unfortunate, but it's true. This is your opportunity to highlight your career achievements and briefly go over your career story with the interviewer.

Limit your answer to no more than one minute. With open-ended questions such as these, it is important to be concise and clear.

Keep in mind the employer's job requirements when answering. Don't just tell everyone what you have done. You should also highlight the key jobs and experience that are most relevant to your next employer.

If you have worked in the same industry for the last four years, and have eight years of experience, then spend most of your time talking about your experiences in that industry.

Example answer:

"I graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering eight years ago. After graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, I took a job at a local oil and gas company. But I knew I wanted to work as a manufacturing engineer, so I moved to this field four years ago. Since then I have been promoted to Senior Manufacturing engineer and managed projects with as many as 10 people reporting to me. As I am looking for my next position, I would like to be promoted to Engineering Manager. I thought this opportunity with your company was worth considering.

17 - Please tell me about a time when you went beyond what was expected.

Another question that is frequently asked in phone interviews is this one. This question is often asked in customer service interviews, but it can also be used in other industries.

Preparing for this question? Think back to your most recent jobs (recent examples are more relevant). Then, imagine a situation where you were given a task that was not typical of your normal work duties.

Always highlight positive outcomes when you tell a story about an occasion where you went above and beyond for work. For example, a satisfied customer or a solution that your company has found.

Just like the previous question, limit your answer to one to two minutes. Tell a clear story beginning to end.

Consider the job that you are interviewing for and choose an example they will find relevant. In any interview by phone, it is important to show that you have the right background to succeed in this job.

You don't just need to demonstrate your skills or work ethic to hiring managers.

Example answer:

"In my last job, I sold a computer to a customer just before closing. When he got home, the computer wasn't working. Because he was going to be using the computer at night, he wanted a replacement. He called me even though I had already closed the store. However, I was still there when he called. I said to the customer that I would wait for him if he could come back even though I had already closed. I agreed and waited for him at the door. I then exchanged his product for one at the new location. We were able to leave him a 5-star review, and he returned several times. He has become one of our most loyal customers over the years.

Steps after your phone interview

You should practice the questions from the telephone interview. After the interview, you should have a plan to impress your employer. These are the top two things you should do after every interview.

Always end the interview with a question asking when you can expect to hear more about the next steps. This will allow you to follow up by email if you have not heard back from them. It will also reduce anxiety as you wait for the next steps.

Second, thank the employer for interviewing you. Send a thank-you email or letter within 24 hours to reiterate your interest and show appreciation.

This will make you a good impression on the hiring manager and help you stay in their mind while they make their final decision.

17 Common Questions and Answers for Phone Interviews - Unified Career
Yves Lafleur Jr

Yves Lafleur Jr is an administrator at Unified Career.