Top Phone Interview Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

February 14, 2020

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After you apply for a job and if the recruiter and/or hiring manager believes that you are right for the position, they may respond with a request for a phone interview. Employers use phone interviews to help them decide which applicants they should invite for an in-person interview.

Before a phone interview, you should prepare both your answers common interview questions and your own questions to ask. These questions will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company and help you learn if the role is a good fit.

Below, you’ll find tips for choosing the right phone interview questions, plus seven powerful questions you can ask at the end of your interview to leave a lasting impression.

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Why preparing interview questions is important

A phone interview should be a conversation, not an interrogation. Asking meaningful questions shows that you’re serious about the position. If you don’t ask questions, you risk appearing uninterested or unprepared—even if the rest of the interview goes well.

You might come up with questions to ask based on the natural flow of the conversation, but it’s always best to prepare a few in advance. That way, when the recruiter or hiring manager asks if you have any questions, you can take full advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the role.

The goal of asking questions in an interview is to determine if the position and the company are a good match for your skillset, career goals and personality. Avoid asking questions with the goal of impressing the interviewer. Instead, focus on those areas where you have a genuine curiosity. Your authenticity will further strengthen your suitability for the job. For example, if you value career growth, ask questions about the typical career trajectory for the position. If you enjoy fast-paced work, ask about the work environment. Save questions about salary and benefits until later on in the hiring process.

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Questions to ask in a phone interview

Since phone interviews typically last 30 minutes or less, plan on asking two or three open-ended questions tailored to the role and company. Your interviewer might cover all of the information you want to know during the course of the conversation, so it’s a good idea to write down at least three or four backup questions. Remember, one benefit of a phone interview is that you can look at your notes, so keep your list of questions in front of you during the interview.

Here is a list of the best questions to ask your interviewer:

What does a typical day look like for someone in this position?

Even though the job posting covers key responsibilities, the interviewer will be able to tell you more about the specific day-to-day tasks you’ll be expected to perform. Having a conversation about your potential workday from beginning to end will help you determine if this is something you can visualize yourself doing, identify desirable skills you might highlight in future interviews and show that you’re genuinely interested in daily life at the company.

What does success look like for this role?

Beyond the job description and day-to-day work routine, finding out how to succeed in the role can help you evaluate if you are well-suited you are for the position. It will give you a concrete sense of your potential employer’s expectations. With this question, you’ll also learn more about the company’s process for evaluation, feedback, and accountability.

What is the typical career path for a person in this role?

Show the recruiter or hiring manager that you’re thinking about a future with the company by asking about career growth opportunities. This question will let you know if the company frequently promotes from within, and help you decide if the company matches your long-term career goals.

Where do you see the company in the next five years?

Employers are looking for a long-term commitment, not employees who view this new job as a stepping stone for opportunities elsewhere. That’s why asking about the future of the company not only offers insight into job stability but also demonstrates your desire to grow with the company over a long period of time. You’ll get a glimpse into the company’s priorities, which can help you find out if the company’s values align with your own.

What do you enjoy about working for this company?

Make a personal connection with your interviewer by asking about their experience at the company. This question will uncover some insights about the company culture and what it’s really like to work there. For example, your interviewer might like the company’s friendly atmosphere, flexible work options or growth opportunities—all of which can help you determine if it is a company you’d like to work for, too.

Is the work environment collaborative or independent?

Ask this question to find out if the company work environment will suit your work style and personality. If you’re an extrovert who enjoys high-energy, collaborative work environments, you don’t want to be surprised when you arrive on your first day and find out that most people work alone in private offices.

What are the next steps in the interview process?

At the end of the phone interview, ask about the next steps. This will give you an idea of when you should expect to hear back (and a reason for sending a checking in email if they don’t get back to you within that time frame). You’ll also find out if there are any additional interviews as well as how long the overall hiring process might take.

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