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Phone Interview Questions: 6 Tips For Running The Show

Posted by James Patrick Kahler on April 15, 2015

Want to hear something crazy? 103 years ago the Titanic sank. Want to hear something even crazier and completely irrelevant to the first question? Most people do not know how to conduct a proper interview, yet alone a phone interview.


Meeting someone face-to-face allows for natural interaction and initial conversation. On the other hand, meeting someone over the phone calls for a bit of effort from the caller (in this case, the hiring manager) to get the conversation going. Therefore, it’s essential to have a guideline or some format to follow when writing up phone interview questions; otherwise the interview is bound to fall apart and lose its purpose.

6 Tips for Phone Interview Questions 

1.)  MAKE A SCRIPT—Following the same script for every interview helps avoid bias and inconsistency. You want to make sure every candidate has the same opportunity to a fair interview process; this means asking everyone the same basic questions. Plus, this helps you stay on track and keep the interview flowing within your respective time limit.

2.)  INTRODUCTION—This means more than just a simple, “Hey, how’s it going?” Introduce yourself, your background and your company first. Then give your candidates an overview of how the interview will flow so they know what to expect. Make sure they understand your interview process. This will help ensure a smooth transition to the next stage of the process, like a face-to-face interview or polite rejection.

3.)  CAREER PLAN—Ask the candidates about their career plans, goals and dreams. This helps you gain a better understanding of what their overall objectives are and whether or not they’ll be an immediate fit for the job. This also helps you save time and make the decision of whether or not to go on with the rest of the phone interview...and as they say, "time is money!"


4.)  INVESTIGATE SKILLSETS—Ask what the candidates are good at and what they do not like doing when it comes to work. Knowing their areas of expertise and lack thereof helps you recognize what you can expect from the candidates. Are they the right culture fit? Can they complete the work that will be asked of them? Will they go above and beyond the type of work that’s needed to be an all-star employee?

5.)  JOB HISTORY—While conducting reference checks isn’t needed until later on in the interview process, it’s still good to ask about the candidates’ work history. This is another way to investigate their skillsets, experiences and personalities. There’s plenty to learn from hearing about a candidate’s prior job.

6.)  DESCRIBE THE WORK—After you fully explain the major details about your open position, ask the candidates if this is the type of job they can see themselves enjoying. It’s one thing to hire an experienced candidate, but if that same person is not going to truly enjoy the work, then it’s probably best that he or she tells you now rather than later. Let’s be honest, no one wants ‘dud’ or a ‘negative Nancy’ as a coworker.

Always end your phone interview by informing your candidates of the next steps of your interview process. It’s unprofessional to leave a candidate hanging and uninformed. Plus, it just looks bad on your part and nobody wants to do business with a lazy manager.

Formatting your phone interview questions with these six steps helps not only you, but also the candidates during the process. There’s so much more to gain from a phone interview if you ask the right questions and listen for the right answers—and that goes for both the interviewer and candidate. Set the interview up for success and you’re bound to find a diamond in the rough sooner or later.

That’s only half of the story! Download our free eBook below to get the 411 on conducting efficient phone interviews.

411 Hireology ebook phone interview guide free download

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Interviewing Help, Management, Hiring Tips, Hiring

James Patrick Kahler

About the Author

James Patrick Kahler is Hireology’s Copywriter & Content Specialist. He is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and has over four years of professional experience writing for various industries. Outside of the office (and sometimes inside), he has a passion for comedy, advertising and his Cleveland sports teams…all of them.