15 Common Phone Interview Questions & Answers

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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A job interview process involves several stages, each no less important than the other. Yet, most applicants focus solely on in-person interviews and barely pay much attention to phone interviews, assuming the latter is simply a warm-up phase.

15 Common Phone Interview Questions And Best Answers

That cannot be further from the truth! Starting on the right foot in the initial phone interview will set the tone for the entire process and increase your chances of success. Let’s look at 15 phone screen interview questions and answers you might encounter during this stage.

15 Best Telephone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Question 1. Tell us about you.

Why this question?

The interviewer wants to get a well-rounded picture of who you are beyond your resume. 

From there, they can assess your communication skills and personality and see if your overall fit aligns with the company culture! That’s your chance to disclose the hidden talents or professional experiences that make you a standout candidate.

Example Answer

I’m Sarah Jones, a recent Stanford University graduate with a marketing degree. My studies focused on social media marketing and content creation, but I also took graphic design and data analysis courses to broaden my skill set. 

During my internship at Greenward Technologies, a company that develops sustainable building materials, I helped them run a social media campaign called “#BuildGreen,” which increased brand awareness among architects and construction firms by 20%. 

I have always been passionate about building engaging online communities. I hope to find a role that allows me to combine my creative energy with data-driven strategies to make a real impact on a brand’s digital presence.

See more: How To Answer Tell Me About Yourself?

Question 2. Why are you interested in this position? 

Why this question?

Companies seek someone enthusiastic about the company’s mission and the specific challenges and opportunities this role presents. Hence, naturally, they need to know if you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in the company, not just applying for any position. 

Example Answer:

I’ve been following your recent ‘Conscious Closet’ campaign, and I particularly admire how you use creative storytelling to connect with your audience on a deeper level and highlight the social impact of ethical fashion choices. 

I believe my skills in content creation and social media marketing, along with my knowledge of sustainable practices, would be a great asset to your team. I’m eager to learn more about the team’s content strategy and how I can contribute to achieving your brand awareness goals, specifically among Gen Z consumers like me.

See more: Best way to answer: “Why Are You Interested In This Position?

Question 3. Walk us through your resume.

Why this question?

There’s no point beating around the bush; the hiring manager wants to go straight to the specific experiences and accomplishments mentioned on your resume. This insight helps them understand the context of your work and how your skills translate to the requirements of the position they’re hiring for.

Example Answer


In my previous role as a Marketing Assistant at ABC, a local bakery known for its artisanal bread, I was responsible for managing their social media accounts and creating engaging content. This included recipe blog posts, eye-catching food photography, and scheduling posts to maximize reach during peak browsing hours. I also assisted with email marketing campaigns and segmenting the audience list based on purchase history and preferences.

One of my biggest achievements was revamping their email newsletter format, which focuses on personalization and exclusive discount codes for loyal customers. My hard work resulted in a 35% increase in click-through rates and a significant boost in customer engagement, with a notable rise in repeat purchases.

Question 4. Do you have any salary requirements?

Why this question?

Though it might not be transparent, this call interview question has a multi-layered approach. 

First, the recruiter wants to confirm whether your desired salary aligns with their allocated budget for the position. If there’s a significant mismatch, it can save them time moving forward with the interview process!

Secondly, your realistic expectations might give them a glimpse into your experience level and competitiveness in the job market. Someone with a much higher salary expectation might have extensive experience or specialized skills they’re looking for. 

How you frame your answer also speaks volumes about your priorities. Are you solely focused on a high base salary, or are you open to a more well-rounded compensation package that includes benefits and professional development opportunities?

Example Answer

Based on my research and previous experience, I’m targeting a salary range of $1000 for this Public Relations Specialist position. 

However, I must say I’m more focused on finding a company that values professional development and offers growth opportunities. I’m also open to discussing specifics based on the full benefits package offered, particularly opportunities for industry-related conferences or mentorship programs. 

Question 5. Tell me about a time you faced a challenge and how you overcame it. 

Why this question?

The company is clearly expecting a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) problem-solving story! 

They want to see how you approach challenges, what steps you take to resolve them, and the outcome of your efforts. Ideally, your example should showcase the specific skills relevant to the job.

Example Answer

During my internship at Harmony Homes, we launched a social media campaign to promote open houses in a new neighborhood known for having limited internet access. This team project presented a huge challenge because our usual social media strategy relied heavily on online advertising. (Situation & Task) 

To overcome this, I brainstormed creative solutions with the team and suggested a multi-pronged approach. We partnered with local businesses in the neighborhood to distribute flyers and posters promoting the open houses. We also leveraged the power of social media via eye-catching content showcasing the neighborhood’s unique charm and highlighting its proximity to local amenities. (Action)

As a result, we were able to generate a significant number of qualified leads despite the limitations. The open houses were a massive success, and we exceeded our sales targets by 35% for that month alone. (Result)

See more: 8 Examples of Challenges You Have Overcome At Work

Question 6. Describe your work style. 

Why this question?

A strong candidate must fit into the team’s dynamic. Are you a self-starter who thrives independently, or do you prefer a collaborative environment?

Knowing your work style helps the company assess potential conflicts and foresee how you might interact with your colleagues. They’re also looking for someone who is adaptable and can adjust their approach based on the situation.

Example Answer

I’d describe myself as a highly motivated person with a strong work ethic. I’m comfortable working independently and taking initiative on projects, but I also value open communication and collaboration. I believe in the power of a supportive team environment where we can share ideas and learn from each other. 

I’m also flexible and more than willing to change my work style depending on the task at hand. For instance, I can be very focused and independent if I’m working on a tight deadline. However, for brainstorming sessions or complex projects, I enjoy working side by side with other members to achieve the best possible outcome.

Question 7. Why are you leaving your current job (or why are you unemployed)?

Why this question? 

There might be many reasons at play here.

For starters, they want to understand why you’re motivated to move on from your current situation. Are you unhappy, or have you outgrown your role? Someone frequently jumping jobs due to dissatisfaction is a clear red flag.

Secondly, they need a closer look into your ambition and career path to see whether you seek new challenges or just want a better paycheck. Hence, I suggest a comprehensive answer that shows your desire to find a job that aligns with your long-term vision. 

This phone screening interview question also addresses a gap in your employment (if any). Some applicants were laid off due to company restructuring, while others took a break for personal reasons

Example Answer

I’m leaving my current role as a Marketing Associate at XYZ after three years. 

While I’ve appreciated the experience and the supportive team environment, the company primarily focuses on traditional marketing strategies. I’m particularly interested in your company’s focus on social media advertising, which aligns better with my long-term goal of specializing in digital marketing.

See more: 6 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job on Applications

Question 8. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Why this question?

Recruiters like me use this great phone interview question to assess your self-awareness and how you approach challenges. It’s also a way to uncover your thought process and see if your strengths directly respond to the job requirements.

Your answer should demonstrate both your honesty about areas for improvement and a willingness to learn and grow.

Example Answer

My greatest strengths are analyzing data and translating insights into actionable marketing strategies. During my internship at XYZ, I used website analytics to identify a demographic that wasn’t effectively targeted by our social media campaigns. Once our content and messages were tailored to their preferences, we increased engagement from that group by 20%. 

As for weaknesses, I can sometimes be a perfectionist and overthink the projects. To address this, I’m actively working on delegating tasks more effectively and trusting my team members’ expertise. Setting realistic deadlines also helps me maintain a good work pace and deliver high-quality results on time.”

See more:

Question 9. Tell me about a time you had to work under pressure or in a stressful situation.

Why this question?

Contrary to popular belief, this telephony interview question doesn’t just assess your ability to handle stress. 

Here’s your chance to highlight your problem-solving skills in action. How do you prioritize tasks under pressure? Can you think creatively to find solutions? Do you remain calm and composed in a demanding situation? 

Collaboration skills also play a role here; a flexible employee must know how to delegate tasks effectively or seek help from colleagues.

Example Answer

During a major sales campaign at XYZ, our website experienced a technical glitch right before a significant promotion launch. This accident could have potentially cost us a lot of sales. 

I remained calm and immediately communicated the issue to the IT department. While they worked on a solution, I collaborated with the content team to develop on-the-spot social media posts informing customers about the temporary delay and introducing alternative shopping options. 

Together, our team members managed to minimize the glitch’s impact and ensured a successful sales campaign launch.

Question 10. Describe a situation where you had to work as part of a team.

Why this question?

There are two main reasons why interviewers ask this question. 

First, they want to assess your teamwork skills beyond simply saying you’re a “team player.” They’re looking for specific examples of how you collaborate with others to achieve a common goal, which includes key aspects like communication, the ability to delegate, resolving conflicts, and adapting to different working styles. 

Secondly (and just as important), the answer must highlight specific skills the job position is looking for.

Example Answer

At XYZ, I was part of a team tasked with developing a new educational program for a non-profit organization. The team consisted of curriculum developers, educators, and graphic designers. 

As you can see, while everyone brought valuable expertise, there were some expected challenges due to differing working styles. 

To ensure effective collaboration, I facilitated weekly brainstorming sessions where everyone felt comfortable sharing ideas. I also volunteered to create a shared document outlining project milestones and deadlines, which helped us stay organized and on track. Despite the initial hurdles, through open communication and clear role definition, we managed to develop a comprehensive educational program that was well-received by our target audience.

Question 11. Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake?

Why this question?

Of course, interviewers like us don’t expect you to always be perfect; we want to see your maturity and growth mindset. A strong answer should demonstrate your accountability, problem-solving skills, and how you learn from these relevant experiences. Let me break down some key factors an interviewer is looking for:

  • Do you take responsibility for the mistake?
  • Can you explain what went wrong and why?
  • Did you take steps to fix the mistake?
  • How will you avoid similar mistakes in the future?

Example Answer

When I was an intern at XYZ, I made a mistake in a client presentation and included outdated data on a key marketing metric. 

As soon as I realized the error after the presentation, I immediately contacted the client and apologized for this mistake. I then worked hard to gather the correct data and sent a revised presentation with a clear explanation of the error. 

From then on, I always double-check information before presentations. This experience also taught me the value of active communication in maintaining client trust.

Question 12. What are your biggest accomplishments?

Why this question?

This common job interview question aims to discover what motivates you and what kind of impact you can make. You should describe the accomplishment in detail (preferably with quantifiable results) and explain how this remarkable milestone showcases the skills or experience needed for this position.

Example Answer

One of my biggest accomplishments was increasing brand awareness by 20% for the local bakery Harmony Homes’ during my time as a Marketing Assistant. 

I spearheaded a highly engaging social media campaign titled ‘#BakeWithHarmony.’ The campaign focused on user-generated content, encouraging customers to share photos and videos of themselves baking recipes from the bakery or enjoying their pastries at home. 

To further entice participation, I partnered with a local food blogger to create a series of short recipe tutorials showcasing the bakery’s signature products. We also ran a contest where the most creative and visually appealing user-generated content won a free baking class and a basket of artisan breads.

The campaign saw a 15% increase in followers across social media platforms and a surge in positive reviews mentioning the #BakeWithHarmony hashtag. This explosive success also translated to a significant rise in foot traffic and online orders, with a 10% increase in sales revenue during the campaign period. 

I believe this milestone demonstrates my ability to develop creative content strategies that not only generate brand awareness but also foster a sense of community and drive measurable business results.

See more: 6 sample answers of accomplishments at work

Question 13. What are your career goals? 

Why this question? 

While interviewers do want to gauge your ambition, they’re also looking for someone who will stay with the company for a reasonable time. As said earlier, a candidate who seems likely to jump ship to another company as soon as a better opportunity arises might not be the best fit!

Example Answer

My long-term career goal is to become a Project Manager specializing in solar energy integration for commercial buildings. In the next 5 years, I aim to achieve LEED AP certification and lead a team on a project similar to ABC’s recent involvement in the Bayview Community Center’s rooftop solar panel installation. 

The experience combines my passion for sustainability with my project management skills. Hence, this role as a Building Materials Specialist at ABC feels like a perfect first step for me.

Question 14. When are you available to start?

Why this question?

Confirming your availability helps the interviewer plan the onboarding process effectively. Not to mention, depending on the role and current projects, there might be an urgent need to fill the position! A long notice period might require them to adjust the start date or assign temporary tasks. 

Most companies also appreciate a flexible employee who can adjust within reason to minimize disruption to the team.

Example Answer

My official notice period at Acme Construction is two weeks, so my ideal start date would be May 13th. 

However, I’m currently finalizing the punch list for a high school renovation project. I would be happy to extend my notice by a maximum of one additional week, pushing my start date to May 20th, if that would be helpful for a smooth transition within your team at Green Builders.

Question 15. Do you have any questions for me? 

Why this question?

Your answer to this question will reveal your level of engagement with the interview and the company. A candidate with well-thought-out questions demonstrates genuine interest and will likely leave a positive impression.

How you pose the question also reflects your thought process and ability to identify key areas, both of which are crucial for the team’s long-term growth.

Example Answer 

Yes, I definitely do. In the job description, you mentioned the focus on using AutoCAD software for building material estimates. While I have experience with Revit software, I’d love to hear more about your team’s specific workflows using AutoCAD and how you provide training programs for new hires on the platform. 

I was also curious about the company’s emphasis on work-life balance mentioned on your website and how it translates to daily work life at Company X.

Extra Tips To Nail Your Phone Interview

Phone Interview

Focus On Achievements, Not Just Duties

When describing past experiences, use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and quantify your accomplishments with metrics or specific results. 

For example, instead of saying “increased sales,” you can say: “Developed and implemented a new social media marketing campaign that resulted in a 15% increase in qualified leads and a 10% boost in quarterly sales.”

Adapt Your Answers To The Job Description

According to my survey, all job seekers who aced their interviews managed to highlight keywords and phrases from the job description throughout their responses. 

It would help if you did the same. Recruiters will be pleased with your excellent understanding of the role’s requirements and how your skills directly align with them!

Example: If the job description mentions “experience with project management software,” you could say: “In my previous role, I utilized [Project management software name] to manage a team of five developers.”

Prepare A “Cheat Sheet”

Create a one-page document with key points, talking points, and company information at hand for quick reference during the interview. This cheat sheet should briefly outline the following:

  • Achievements you want to highlight
  • Questions you prepared for the interviewer
  • Key details about the company and the role

Be An Active Listener

Don’t just listen to their questions; the best way to actively engage in the conversation is to summarize key points and ask clarifying questions of your own! Recruiters appreciate it when you really pay attention and show genuine interest in what they have to say.

For example, you could tell them: “So, if I understand correctly, you’re looking for someone to [Summarize key point]. Would it be helpful if I could share an example of a time I…?”

Remember, enthusiasm is contagious, so always speak with a clear, energetic voice to project your passion for the role and the company throughout the interview!

Practice Makes Perfect

Record yourself answering common interview questions using your phone’s camera or a voice recorder. Watch the playback carefully to identify areas for improvement, such as filler words (“um,” “like”), unclear pronunciations, or awkward pauses.

Take Care Of Your Surrounding Environment

Put your phone on silent mode and close unnecessary browser tabs or programs. To reduce distractions, don’t forget to inform housemates or family members that you have an important phone call coming!

Of course, the interviewer clearly can’t see you. But I see no reason not to dress professionally for the occasion; it will put you in the right mindset and boost your confidence.


My article has rounded up some typical phone interview questions and sample answers to help you prepare. 

Not worrying about face-to-face interactions can be a plus, but it also means the interviewer can’t see your body language. So, it’s crucial to practice your delivery and tone to perfection! If you need further assistance, feel free to reach out to me.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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