Phone Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

 

Before you schedule candidates for an in-person interview, you may opt to start with a phone screening. These short interviews can save you time by making sure only the most qualified applicants move on to the next round of the hiring process.

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Additionally, phone interviews give applicants a chance to ask questions about information not listed in the job posting and learn more about the role to determine if it’s right for them before scheduling time to visit your workplace for a traditional interview.

 

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Phone screening questions

Here are a few straightforward phone interview questions to help you determine who should move on to round two:
 

  1. Do you have the proper certification, license or degree for this position?
  2. Are you willing and able to travel?
  3. What are you looking for in your next role?
  4. What type of work environment is best for you?
  5. What are your salary expectations?
  6. Why are you leaving your current employer?
  7. If offered a position, how soon would you be able to start?

 

1. Do you have the proper certification, license or degree for this position?

While you’ve probably listed educational or certification requirements in the job description, it’s a good idea to verify applicants can prove they have the necessary credentials to perform the job.

 
For example, if you’re hiring a delivery truck driver, you’d want to make sure they have the proper type of driver’s license. If you’re hiring a dental hygienist, you’d want to make sure candidates have a degree in dental hygiene and are licensed within your state.

 

2. Are you willing and able to travel?

If the role requires any travel, it’s important to set the expectation immediately. Some people are comfortable traveling as much as necessary, while others may prefer a job in which they never have to leave town. Let candidates know the percentage of travel the role demands, as well as the sort of travel they can expect. For example, explain whether the job requires leaving the state, international flights or long-term trips.

 

3. What are you looking for in your next role?

This is one of the most common phone interview questions because it helps hiring managers determine whether the position aligns with the candidate’s ideal job. By asking early in the process, you can identify which applicants will enjoy the role and which may not be well-suited.

 

4. What type of work environment is best for you?

Some professionals prefer to work in an autonomous setting while others prefer strict process and oversight. Some candidates may want a position that offers remote work and flexible hours while others prefer a 9-to-5 style in-office job. Some applicants may be seeking a role that requires a lot of teamwork while others perform better independently. Whatever the case, this question helps you identify whether or not your company’s environment offers the candidate what they need to excel.

 

5. What are your salary expectations?

This question helps determine two things:

  1. If the candidate’s compensation requirements align with the salary you’ve budgeted for the role.
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  3. Whether or not the candidate is at the appropriate professional level for the job. For example, if the applicant is asking for an annual salary of $150,000, but you’ve only budgeted $80,000, then they may be too senior for the position.

 

6. Why are you leaving your current employer?

This is one of the best phone screening questions because it helps accomplish two goals. First, it enables you to determine whether the reason the applicant is leaving their current role is something they may also encounter in the position for which you’re hiring. For example, if the applicant says they’re leaving their current role because they’re not able to move up, but the position you’re hiring for doesn’t have much opportunity for upward mobility, it may not be the right job for them.

 
Second, it helps you get a feel for their personality and ability to keep their emotions in check. For example, if the candidate is respectful of their current employer and avoids personal attacks, it shows maturity and professionalism.

 

7. If offered a position, how soon would you be able to start?

Most of the time, candidates need to give their clients at least a two-week notice before they can begin a new job. However, if someone is in a contract position, needs to relocate or has other conflicts, they may require additional time. You’ll have to decide whether you’re willing to be flexible on a start date for the right candidate or if you need someone available immediately.

 
A phone screening is a critical part of the hiring process because it helps you identify which applicants stand out as the best fit for the company and the position. By using these phone interview questions, you can gather the information you need to decide which applicants you should move on to the next round and begin scheduling face-to-face interviews.

 

Phone screening tips

  • During the phone interview, do some fact-checking. Ask the candidate direct questions about the experiences listed on their resume.
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  • Try to listen more than you speak. While you should share details about the position and company, you want to give the candidate plenty of time to talk.
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  • Listen closely for any red flags. Potential issues include the candidate speaking negatively about a former employer, getting distracted, focusing too much on money and having no basic knowledge of the job description.
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  • Stay focused on the interview. While you might occasionally become sidetracked while talking to the candidate, you always want to bring the conversation back to the job.

 

Phone screening FAQ

  • How long should a phone screen interview last? A phone screening typically takes 20 to 30 minutes.
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  • How many questions should be in a phone screen interview? The maximum number of questions you should ask in a phone screening is 10.
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  • What questions should be asked at an in-person interview instead of a phone screen? Any in-depth questions that may require longer answers should be saved for an in-person interview. Additionally, questions that involve personality or personal stories, such as ‘What is your communication style?’ or ‘Can you tell me about a time you overcame a challenge at work?’ are best for in-person interviews.
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  • Why is a phone screening necessary if a candidate meets requirements on paper? You want to make sure that qualified candidates are also the best fit for the job. A phone screening can answer questions about the candidate’s schedule, expectations and willingness to travel. These details are not always clear in a resume or cover letter.

 

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