Talent Acquisition

21 Phone Screening Interview Questions

As a hiring manager, part of a people resource team, or a business owner, you know the effort and time it takes to find the right people for your open positions. Arming yourself with well-formulated phone screening interview questions will help you pinpoint the perfect candidates faster. Let’s get to it.

What Are Phone Screening Interview Questions?

During the initial stages of the interview process, hiring managers and recruiters conduct phone screenings to evaluate a candidate’s suitability for an open role before moving forward. Phone screening interview questions are valuable for assessing an applicant’s potential alignment.

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Why Phone Screening Interview Questions Matter 

Spotting candidates who aren’t the right fit in the first round of interviews helps you zero in on the ones who are a perfect match sooner. Weeding out those who are only partially aligned early can save you time and resources in the hiring process so you can send a job offer letter to the right candidate. 

21 Phone Screening Interview Questions 

Crafting the right interview questions is the key to identifying top talent and ensuring a seamless fit within your organization. The following list outlines what to ask during an interview, whether you’re hiring your first employee or your hundredth.

1. What inspired you to apply for this position? 

Knowing which aspects of the job appeal to each candidate gives you insight into their immediate career goals, relevant skills and experience, and ideal company culture. You can use what you learned to write stronger job ads in the future. 

2. How has your experience prepared you for this role?  

This question helps you gauge the candidate’s readiness, skills, self-awareness, and problem-solving abilities. It’ll also provide valuable insight into the candidate’s transferable skills and how they relate to the position’s requirements. 

3. What makes you a good fit for this role? 

Giving candidates the chance to showcase themselves during the initial interview is invaluable. You’ll understand their abilities beyond what’s in their resumes. By encouraging candidates to communicate their strengths and experiences, you may get a clearer picture of their skill level and proficiency.

4. What do you know about our company? 

One way to determine their level of interest is to ask about their knowledge of your company. Candidates who’ve researched your company ahead of time are more likely to highlight aspects of your company culture or mission that align with their values, which can indicate their potential fit with your organization.

5. What are you looking for in your next job? 

By asking this question, you can uncover what aspects of a job are most important to them—the work environment, growth opportunities, or other factors. For instance, candidates might want a remote role, indicating their preference for flexibility and work-life balance. 

Alternatively, they might say they’re eager to take on new responsibilities to grow their professional skills and advance their careers. By understanding what candidates seek in their next job, you can better assess their fit for the role and tailor your discussions to highlight aspects of the position that align with their goals and interests. 

6. What’s a work accomplishment you’re proud of? 

Candidates reveal valuable information about their skills and values by discussing specific accomplishments and the effort invested. For example, someone mentioning a peer-nominated award likely values teamwork. These narratives offer glimpses into problem-solving abilities, leadership skills, and innovation capacity, helping you assess their potential contributions to your team.

7. How do you prioritize tasks? 

The question will help you understand their organizational skills and time management abilities, providing a glimpse into their decision-making process and strategic thinking. It will also show their suitability for roles requiring task management or adaptability to changing priorities. 

8. What are your long-term career goals? 

Asking job candidates about their long-term career goals gives you a glimpse into their ambitions. Knowing where they see themselves down the road helps you determine whether they’re in it for the long haul with your company and whether they’re excited about the growth opportunities you offer.

9. What does your standard workday involve? 

Understanding a candidate’s hands-on work experience is invaluable; this question can tell you what responsibilities they specifically manage. For example, a “salesperson” position may look vastly different from one company to another, so ask about their tasks, processes, and priorities. 

10. Do you prefer working independently or with a team?

Figuring out a candidate’s preferences will help you determine whether they’ll do well in different work setups and roles within your team. It’ll also help you decide if the job seeker is a good fit for your workplace culture, depending on whether employees primarily work autonomously or in teams.

11. What type of management style do you prefer? 

Asking candidates about their preferred management style helps you understand how they like to be guided and supported in their work environment. Knowing this lets you gauge whether their preferences align with the management style at your organization. It also helps create a better working relationship if hired.

12. What type of job environment are you most productive in? 

Some candidates thrive in fast-paced environments that rely on collaboration, while others prefer a quiet workspace with few interruptions. Use these answers to find someone who will mesh well with their new team and thrive in your workspace. 

13. What’s the most helpful feedback you’ve received? 

The responses can be particularly helpful. Candidates willing to learn from mistakes, adapt to managerial input, and prioritize ongoing professional growth are promising. They demonstrate a growth mindset and a proactive approach to self-improvement and development. 

14. How do you stay informed about industry trends? 

This question gauges the level of engagement and interest in their field. Candidates might demonstrate a genuine passion for their work and a commitment to staying current. Their response also reveals their approach to professional development and learning. Candidates who regularly seek out information are proactive learners who continuously strive to expand their knowledge and skills.

15. Are you comfortable working under deadlines? 

If the job role you’re hiring for involves deadlines, that’s a non-negotiable. Ask candidates about their comfort level working with deadlines and what project deadlines they’ve worked with. 

Consider asking these follow-up questions:

  • What would you do if you felt you wouldn’t meet a deadline?
  • What support do you need to ensure you meet deadlines? 
  • What do you do to help yourself consistently complete projects on time? 

16. What strengths can you bring to this role? 

You can hear directly from a candidate how they can be an asset to your team and why you should hire them. This phrasing encourages answers that include everything from personality and soft skills to work experience and certifications. 

You can also gauge their understanding of the position based on their answer. Take note if they focus on skills or tasks unrelated to the role. The position may differ from what the candidate expects, or they may not have the required experience. 

17. What’s a weakness you can improve on? 

This phrasing has a positive spin instead of just asking about a weakness alone. Candidates who share a weakness—and a plan to address it—show self-awareness and an interest in growth. Their answers can also provide invaluable insight for hiring managers looking for “red flags” like essential skill gaps, an inability to meet deadlines, or poor interpersonal skills. 

18. Have you worked with our tech stack? 

Certain positions require experience with industry-specific software. Graphic design agencies, for example, may work exclusively with Adobe’s creative suite of tools and look for candidates with extensive Adobe experience and portfolio samples. 

19. What are your salary expectations? 

Salary negotiations can derail offer acceptance after you’ve selected a candidate. If your job post did not include pay transparency, address salary expectations during the interview to align candidate expectations with the role’s budget, minimizing misunderstandings later.

20. What is a realistic start date?  

Many applicants can start two or three weeks after they receive a job offer, but some may require a longer lead time. If you don’t have flexibility around start dates, this can narrow down your candidate list. Remember that exceptional candidates may be worth postponing desired start dates, especially if they have specialized skills or experience. 

21. Do you have any questions? 

Give candidates a chance to ask questions so they can feel confident in your company, too. Answering questions helps job candidates ensure that you’re a fit for them. Invested candidates are more likely to make it through the hiring process and accept a job offered.

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Best Practices For Conducting Phone Screening Interviews

  • Prepare your structured list of questions to assess job skills and cultural fit.
  • Set a clear agenda and time limit for the call to maintain focus and efficiency.
  • Actively listen to the candidate’s responses and take notes for reference.
  • Use open-ended questions to encourage detailed responses and gauge communication skills.
  • Provide clear next steps in the interview process to keep the process moving smoothly.

Wize Words

Take a big step toward hiring the right person by customizing your screening interview questions for each open job on your team. It helps you gather the candidate info you need every time. So, don’t hesitate to tailor your interview questions for each job opening—it will pay off in the long run.

Author

  • Ana Gotter

    Ana is a strategic content marketer with over 10 years of writing experience, including extensive ghostwriting for HR and recruiting agencies. She firmly believes in the transformative power of storytelling, strategy, and research to create outstanding content.

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The article was reviewed by Deirdre Sullivan

Ana Gotter

Ana is a strategic content marketer with over 10 years of writing experience, including extensive ghostwriting for HR and recruiting agencies. She firmly believes in the transformative power of storytelling, strategy, and research to create outstanding content.

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