Telephonic Interview Questions and Answers

1. Tell me about yourself ?

Yes, that dreaded interview question that isn’t even a question. It’s often the standard fallback question for inexperienced interviewers. It’s open-ended and often can serve as the opening question in both a phone interview and an in-person interview. Be very specific about what you cover in your answer and only cover material as it relates to the specific job at hand. Tell the interviewer what you have done to prepare yourself to be an ideal candidate for the role.

2.  Why did you apply for this job?

The interviewer wants to gauge your level of interest. Here’s a good way to answer the question: “This job is a great fit for me. My skills and background in XYZ mean that I’d be successful in this role, which would benefit us both.”  Talk about how you meet their qualifications and exceed them in some way.  (By the way: Make sure you listen carefully to the name of the company when you receive a call, especially if you’ve applied for several jobs. You don’t want to accidentally refer to the wrong company or job position.)

3.What type of opportunity are you considering ?

This question is most commonly asked of candidates who have not provided an objective on their resume (hint: you should). This is a clarifying question to gauge whether or not you are seeking the type of role that is being offered by the employer. If you are unclear about the role being offered, simply ask: “Can you tell me more about the role for which you are hiring?” If the role sounds interesting enough to pursue, let the employer know that you are interested in the role. Also note that if what they are offering is not in alignment with your interests, it is best for you (and them) to know in advance before investing more time in mutual pursuit.

4. Are you open to relocation to ?

If you are not presently located in the geography where the job is based, you may be asked if you are open to considering relocation. This is a gating question often asked in the phone interview to determine whether the employer will commit to next steps. Since most people do not indicate on their resume in the objective section whether they are open to specific geos for relocation (hint: you should), the interviewer will often ask that question up front before proceeding. For larger employers, there may be multiple locations available. If you haven’t thought about relocation yet, think about it in advance so that you are prepared to respond. This isn’t a question about your ideal location, it is a question about what you would and would not consider as potential locations, so treat it as such.

5.  Why do you want to leave your current job? Or Why did you leave your last job?

Don’t get defensive with this question even if a less friendly interviewer makes it sound accusatory. All the company wants to know are the reasons why you’re unemployed or looking for different work. Here’s an effective and positive way to answer the question. “While I enjoy the work environment at my current job, I feel that my role isn’t challenging enough. I’m looking for an opportunity to better use my skills. I believe that the position of [mention position] at [company name] will allow me to do this.”  Keep it positive and clear that you’re running to this job, not from your old one.

6.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It depends on the company (big companies have room for advancement; small ones might not…answer accordingly), but you can always talk about how you expect to have developed your skills and have contributed in a meaningful way to this company.

7. What do you know about the company?

Many employers ask this question at some point in the process to find out what your preparation skills are like. In other words, it’s research time…

Take some time to look at what the company do, what the role entails, and any other information you can get to help paint a picture of the business. The company website is the best place to start, but feel free to look at as many sources as possible. Showing a range of different research will really start demonstrating to the employer how much you want the job.

Having all the notes you need to hand will also really help even the most cotton-mouthed candidates relax into the interview.

8. What salary are you seeking?”

This question is most common with experienced hires, but can also come up for entry level and internship hires as well. The interviewer wants to know if your salary expectations are within range for the role. Your best response to this question is a question: “What is the salary range of the role?” If the interviewer gives you a range and your target number is within the range, respond with: “Yes, that would be within my range of expectations.”

9. Do you have any questions?

As with all interviews, this one is pretty much a no brainer. The advantages of being asked this in a telephone interview, however, is that you can think of them beforehand (standard) and actually write them down to have in front of you without the recruiter even knowing (covert).

That way you can avoid the dreaded awkward silence at the end of the interview, something especially painful on the phone.

10. Take me through your CV:

Give a short description of your education or employment history. Most telephone interviews are fairly brief, so don’t go into too much detail. Some candidates may even choose to ask a question, such as ‘What would you like to know?’, in this situation rather than regurgitate the content on their CV. If you’re confident to follow this method, the approach is perfectly acceptable.

 11. What are your goals for the future?

 Akin to the always popular ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time’ question, the most effective answers here will not only demonstrate that you’ve thought about your future, but also that this is not just a stop-gap position in your estimations. Be passionate about the industry, demonstrate your ambition and play to your strengths.

Do not be tempted to opt for the cocky ‘doing your job’ answer. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

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