Top 40 Phone Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

phone interview questions

By Mike Simpson

UPDATED 7/2/2022

In comparison to sitting across from a hiring manager, phone interviews seem like a breeze. After all, you can answer phone interview questions without having to worry about what you look like, the strength of your handshake, or pesky eye contact.

But it’s important to understand, while phone interviews don’t involve many of the classic tropes, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a major impact on whether you land a job. You have to take all of the phone screening interview questions seriously. Otherwise, you’re probably going to miss out on a great opportunity.

So, are you ready to make sure you’re prepared to shine? Let’s get to it.

How to Answer Phone Interview Questions

Before we dig into phone interview question examples, let’s take a moment to look at the phenomenon that is the phone screen.

Today, phone interviews are increasingly common. They are a convenient screening tool for hiring managers, as they don’t require any time face-to-face and usually. Plus, they may last just 15 minutes, though some might go up to 30.

In many cases, phone screens are the preferred approach for narrowing down candidates. They let the hiring manager to identify the cream of the crop before setting up lengthier meetings.

We’ve discussed phone interview tips in-depth before. But, if you’re looking for a quick overview of how to answer phone screen interview questions and set yourself apart, here you go.

First, above all else, always treat a phone screening like a regular interview. While it may seem more informal, it really isn’t. Sure, you could talk to the hiring manager while walking around in bunny slippers, which is admittedly incredibly casual. But, if you expect that phone interview to be less serious than a real one, you’re in for a rude awakening.

During phone interviews, hiring managers are usually trying to screen candidates out, not screen them in. Since that’s the case, it’s critical to ensure you shine.

So, let’s talk about technique. You need to have a strategy for answering phone interview questions.

If you’re asked a straightforward interview question, like, “Do you have experience with [insert skill, technology, or tool here]?” responding is pretty simple. While you don’t just want to say, “Yes,” answering isn’t a challenge.

MIKE'S TIP: For traditional questions, start with “yes” or “no.” Then, go further. If you said “yes,” give the hiring manager an example of where you got the experience. That makes your answer more impactful. If you have to say “no,” follow up by letting the hiring manager know you’re interested in gaining experience in that area. You could also discuss how you would go about improving the associated skill on your own time if you are genuinely willing to do so. That way, your excitement, willingness to learn, and diligence are on display, increasing the odds that your lack of experience won’t remove you from contention.

But what about behavioral interview questions? While they are more difficult to navigate, with a little preparation, you can nail those, too.

First, start by using the STAR method. With that, you can turn a blasé response into a compelling story chocked full of helpful details. Then, go a step further and enhance that reply with the Tailoring Method. By adding that approach to the mix, you can carefully cultivate an amazing answer that you can practice, ensuring you’re ready to go once it’s time for the actual conversation.

In fact we we wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions!

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Top 5 Phone Interview Tips

1. Eliminate Distractions

Whether it’s children and spouses, pets, or popup notifications, distractions are the enemy during phone interviews. Silence your phone and computer alerts, choose a room with a door, let your household know you’re busy, and otherwise make sure you won’t get interrupted.

2. Prevent Background Noise

Another challenge with household members and pets – as well as passing traffic, people strolling by, or any other source of sound – is background noise. If sound bleeds through the phone, it may make you hard to hear. Plus, it might annoy the hiring manager.

If you want to prevent background noise, choose a quiet room. Close the doors and windows. Make sure household members know you’re busy, too.

3. Do Your Research

As mentioned previously, you need to take answering common phone interview questions with the same degree of seriousness as you would with an in-person meeting. That means it’s time to do your research.

Review the job description, check out the company’s mission and values statements, and view its social media profiles to learn about the culture. That way, you can prepare answers that align with the company’s needs and preferences.

4. Let the Conversation Breathe

Unlike in-person interviews, you don’t have the benefit of body language to tell you when the hiring manager is done asking their question. Since that’s the case, give the conversation some breathing room. Pause for a second even if you think the hiring manager is finished speaking. That way, if you’re wrong, you don’t cut them off by mistake.

5. Smile

If you want to make a great first impression, smile from the moment you pick up the phone. It’ll come through in your voice, making you seem like a happier, upbeat candidate. Plus, it’ll keep your mentality positive, which works in our favor.

If you want more insights, check out our phone interview tips article.

Top 10 Phone Interview Questions

In many cases, phone interviews are screening tools. Hiring managers use them to identify the best and brightest candidates, determining who will move on to the next round.

The exact nature of the phone interview questions can vary depending on the job. However, certain ones are incredibly common. Here are the top ten phone interview questions candidates encounter, regardless of the role:

1. Why did you leave your last job?

This is the kind of question many candidates dread. After all, you don’t want to come off like you’re bad-mouthing a current or previous employer.

Focus on answering with grace and poise, and skew things toward the positive whenever possible.


“When the coronavirus pandemic led to business closures, my employer wasn’t able to maintain its full workforce. I, like many others, was laid off from my position due solely to the dip in business.”

2. What are your salary expectations?

If a hiring manager is screening a lot of candidates, they may be fairly forward when it comes to pay expectations. Ultimately, it’s a quick and easy way to filter out candidates who have expectations beyond what the company will pay.

Ideally, you’ll have done some research about the specific role before the interview. That way, you know what’s reasonable in your area based on the job requirements and your skillset. (Check out our in depth article on this question.)


“After reviewing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, and, I’ve learned professionals with my level of experience performing duties such as those listed in your job ad typically earn $43,000 to $48,000 a year. I’m comfortable with something in that range, suggesting that the total compensation package offered is also strong.”

3. Can you tell me about your main duties in your last role?

Here, the hiring manager is trying to gauge whether you have the right skills for the job. That means you shouldn’t spend time rehashing every responsibility. Instead, you want to really focus, ensuring you cover responsibilities that are highly relevant to the target position.


“In my last position, my duties were well aligned with the job description in your ad. As a customer service rep, I was mainly responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction by providing them with direct assistance as required. Along with answering product questions, I helped with other aspects of the purchase process, such as issues during checkout. My goal was to remain courteous and professional at all times, ensuring I could be a calm, guiding force whenever a customer grew frustrated or needed additional support.”

4. Which of your traits will help you excel in this role most?

Hiring managers want to find out why you think you’ll succeed in the job. It gives them insights into your perspective as well as what you value in yourself.

Pick a soft skill to highlight based on what’s most relevant to the position. If you aren’t sure which to pick, begin by focusing on one that’s required almost universally: communication. Then, see if you can slide another one or two in to round off your response.


“In my past roles, I’ve found that my communication capabilities have been crucial to my success. The ability to convey complex information to others who aren’t familiar with my area of expertise has allowed me to work seamlessly with diverse teams. Ultimately, it allowed us to achieve higher project success rates, as details were able to flow freely, ensuring everyone was on the same page and focused on matching priorities.”

5. Can you describe your ideal manager?

This is a powerful screening question for hiring managers looking to narrow down their applicant pool. It lets them learn about how you like to be led and what you require when it comes to oversight. Essentially, the hiring manager can determine whether what the company has to offer aligns with your needs.

Technically, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. Management style preferences are personal. However, you can answer it tactfully, speaking to certain commonalities that typically exist.


“Generally, I prefer managers that set clear expectations regarding my performance and priorities. Those then serve as guiding principles, allowing me to move forward without direct oversight when the need arises. Additionally, I welcome feedback that can help me grow and excel, so I appreciate when my manager is open regarding how I can potentially improve and wants to see me thrive.”

6. How can you help the company succeed?

Hiring managers see new hires as an investment. They want to know that they’ll get as much as they give, so they may ask a question like this to gauge your potential value.

Usually, you want to showcase an accomplishment or two that relate to the role. This helps you demonstrate how your skills could lead to gains for the company.


“In my last position, I was able to implement a new system that enhanced overall productivity. Ultimately, efficiency and results were improved, causing sales to be boosted by 20 percent. I believe my dedication to process enhancement and efficiency can help me produce similar results in my next position, allowing me to become an asset to any sales team.”

7. What’s your greatest weakness?

When it comes to tricky questions, this one takes the cake. Hiring managers want to know that you’ll be honest and that you are self-aware. Plus, this phone interview question lets them screen out inauthentic candidates who try to masquerade a strength as a weakness.

You want to be genuine when answering, so don’t be afraid to discuss a potential shortcoming. However, also talk about how you work to overcome it. By doing so, you can admit your flaws but also your dedication to self-improvement. (Check out our in depth article on this question.)


“When I first join a team, I have a tendency to be a bit formal. While I enjoy meeting new people, I need a little time to acclimate and form bonds with my colleagues. Usually, I work to overcome this by engaging others and learning more about them as soon as the opportunities arise. This ensures that I don’t come across as standoffish, increasing the speed at which I fully integrate with the team.”

8. Can you tell me about a time where you had to overcome an obstacle?

At some point, every professional encounters an obstacle. Hiring managers want to know that you’ll admit you’ve faced challenges and that you have the ability to overcome them.


“In my last position, I was working on a project that was in jeopardy of missing the deadline. A team member was behind on their tasks, creating a bottleneck that impacted the rest of us. Instead of sitting back, I reached out to my colleague and asked if I could help them catch up. We discussed the trouble they were facing and created a plan that allowed us to get back on track. It took a substantial amount of effort, but was ultimately worth it since the project ended up as a success.”

9. If you and a coworker disagree, how do you resolve the issue?

Nearly all professionals work as part of a large team. And, whenever you get people together, the occasional conflict is going to happen; it’s that simple.

Hiring managers favor candidates that can navigate small conflicts without assistance. Often, those employees are more efficient and productive, making them better options in the hiring manager’s eyes.


“If a coworker and I disagree, my first goal is to understand their perspective fully. I use active listening skills to learn about their point of view, asking thoughtful questions when necessary to deepen my understanding. Once I believe that they feel heard, I rephrase what they’ve shared to confirm I’m on the same page. Then, I work with them to try to find a mutually acceptable solution, ensuring I respect their position and address their concerns along the way.”

10. What motivates you to excel on the job?

Hiring managers usually want to take a peek behind the curtain. By finding out what motivates you, they can discover whether you’re likely to thrive in the position. It also lets them know how much effort they may need to put in to keep you engaged or whether you can usually handle that on your own.


“My primary motivation is the joy of knowing I’ve helped someone. When a customer reaches out with an issue, they are often frustrated and upset. By doing my job well, I can relieve that burden and brighten their day. I find that incredibly powerful, and it often carries me through even the most challenging times at work.

30 More Common Phone Interview Questions

Here are 30 more phone interview questions you may encounter:

    1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
    2. Why do you want to work for our company?
    3. Tell me about a time when you failed on the job. What happened, and how did you move forward?
    4. Can you describe your ideal work environment?
    5. Tell me about your greatest strength.
    6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
    7. Tell me why you feel you are a great match for this position.
    8. What did you enjoy most about your last job?
    9. Can you tell me about a time when you went above and beyond at work?
    10. What did you enjoy least in your last job?
    11. Which of your accomplishments are you proudest of and why?
    12. What makes you stand out from other candidates?
    13. Do you prefer working as part of a team or independently?
    14. Can you walk me through your resume?
    15. How would your last manager describe you as an employee? What about your coworkers?
    16. Why are you searching for a position today?
    17. Which of the company’s values do you connect with most and why?
    18. Describe your ideal work environment.
    19. Which of your skills do you enjoy using the most?
    20. Which past experience increases your odds of success in this job?
    21. How would you provide value to the company?
    22. In a team environment, what role do you usually play among your colleagues?
    23. How did you find out about this position?
    24. Do you know anyone who works at the company?
    25. Which of our products or services do you like best?
    26. What other positions have you interviewed for recently?
    27. What did a typical day look like in your last job?
    28. Are there any personality types that you struggle to work with?
    29. Describe your ideal team dynamic.
    30. When could you potentially start?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Phone Interview

At the end of an interview, you’ll get a chance to learn more about the role by asking the hiring manager some questions. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by! By having questions to ask in a phone interview ready, you’ll come across as more engaged and enthusiastic, which works in your favor.

If you don’t know what to ask, here are five good questions to ask during a phone interview:

    1. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
    2. Is there anything preventing me from being the top candidate?
    3. Is there anything you can tell me about the job that isn’t in the ad?
    4. What is the biggest challenge that the company is facing? How will this role help solve it?
    5. Can you describe a typical day in the position?
    6. Can you describe the existing team dynamic?
    7. What’s the position supervisor’s management style?
    8. How would you describe the company’s culture?
    9. Is the role more team-oriented, or is it more independent?
    10. What’s the onboarding process like with your company?

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, phone interview questions are serious business. Remember, you’re an exceptional candidate; you just have to show it. By using the tips above, you increase your odds of standing out and moving forward in the hiring process. (Don’t forget to send a thank you email!)

Good luck!

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Download our "Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet" that gives you word-for-word sample answers to some of the most common interview questions including:

  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
  • What Is Your Greatest Strength?
  • Tell Me About Yourself
  • Why Should We Hire You?
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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.