We may be living in the age of the computer, but most of us still regularly have to deal with phone interview questions.
Because this is still such a major part of the work world, there are plenty of guides out there that tell you how to answer interview questions. There aren't a lot of places, though, where you can turn to find the right questions to ask if you are the interviewer and not the interviewee.
6 Best Phone Interview Questions
If you're looking to have the best possible interview with the best possible new employee, then you have to start in one place: with the best phone interview questions.
The questions in this section are timeless, and they're timeless because they always work and always get great answers.
1. How would you describe yourself?
It's open-ended and gets right at the heart of who you're talking to.
2. Why are you looking for a job?
Do they just get restless in a position? Find out here.
3. Why do you want to work here?
Find out how much they know about your company...and how much they like what they know.
4. Do you have any questions?
Turn the tables and give them a chance to take over.
5. What is the most important part of this position?
Cut right to where they see the priorities for the job.
6. What is your greatest professional achievement?
Their choice tells you more about what they prioritize in work.
5 Get To Know You Phone Interview Questions
We all know phone conversations can be awkward, even with people we already know well. There's always the chance someone struggles to open up because they're talking to a phone instead of a person.
To make sure you really know how get to know someone, you need great get to know you questions that work over the phone. These phone interview questions really bring a person out into the open and let you know who they really are.
7. What are your greatest professional strengths?
See how they see themselves and what they perceive as a real positive to their work.
8. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Find out if they're honest, straightforward, and a good judge of themselves.
9. What motivates you?
You want to know this now so you can use it if you hire them.
10. What are your hobbies?
You can tell a lot about someone but what they do for joy in their free time.
11. What is your management style?
You need this to match your own vision, or it's just not going to work.
6 Personal Phone Interview Questions
It's always a tricky thing getting personal with your phone interview questions. There's a line there somewhere beyond which it's inappropriate, but before you get there is a whole lot of necessary stuff you need to cover in your call.
To make sure you stay on the right side of that line and still get all the important info, use these personal questions when you've got your interviewee on the phone.
12. Why did you leave your last job?
If there was problem, this is a good way to sniff it out.
13. What are your goals in personal life?
This tells you where and how work fits into their life as a whole.
14. What are the decisions that are most difficult for you?
Knowing where they struggle helps you guide them.
15. What kind of relationship and atmosphere do you prefer to maintain with colleagues and subordinates?
We live in an age where you have to be a friendly but not too friendly colleague.
16. How do you plan and organize?
Chaos can work in some jobs; in others it dooms a whole team to failure.
17. How do you define success and how do you measure it?
How they approach success in life tells you how they'll approach success for your business.
6 Phone Interview Questions For Managers
Not all phone interview questions really help you find a good manager. Marking out someone as a manager is about recognizing those qualities required in management: people skills, organization, the right priorities and vision, and things like that.
That's why you want to make sure you've got a set of good interview questions for managers set aside for those phone calls with someone who may be moving into a position with a lot of responsibilities.
Just use these questions on that call, and you'll be able to quickly grasp if this person can handle the job or not.
18. How do you manage stress among your team members?
Work = stress, and a manager has to handle that for everyone.
19. How do you handle conflict between team members?
Get to know if this person talks it out or runs away from it.
20. Describe a time when your team managed to achieve ambitious goals you set. How did you support and motivate them?
It's not the goal, it's how they "managed" to get there.
21. How do you delegate tasks to your team?
By ability? By personality? By favoritism? Get a taste for how they handle this now.
22. What was the biggest failure you had in your most recent role? Prior 2-3 roles? How did you respond to the situation? What did you learn?
Managers have to handle setbacks, can this person?
23. Describe your management style.
If they have a style, they'll know how to describe. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
5 Hypothetical Phone Interview Questions
Work is full of unexpected situations. In order to test someone to know how they'll respond you need to use hypothetical questions.
These phone interview questions allow you to see in real time how someone would respond to any given situation.
24. Describe a situation where you need to work with a difficult manager.
Can this person work with difficult people?
25. Describe a situation when you need to convince others to change their decision.
There's a line between debate and argument. Are they on the right side?
26. Describe a situation when you require taking an initiative.
Are they ready to step up or will they back off and just collect a paycheck?
27. Describe a situation where you adapt new environment easily.
How well will they handle the changes on this job?
28. Describe a time when you had too many to do items on your list. How did you solve the problem?
Every day they'll have too much to do. How will they handle it?
5 Interesting Phone Interview Questions
You want an interview to be more than just checking boxes. You want it to be interesting...for you and for the interviewee.
That's actually easy enough to accomplish if you interject some interesting questions into your phone call. These phone interview questions don't just make the call more engaging, they tell you more about the person you're talking to.
29. What is your philosophy towards your work?
The word "philosophy" makes this far more thought provoking...and interesting.
30. Are you a hunter or a gatherer?
Get at the passive vs. aggressive angle of their personality.
31. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
They're letting you know about their dreams and their insecurities.
32. If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
How they handle money tells a lot about how responsible they are.
33. If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?
A unique way to get at the "favorite book" answer.
6 Fun Phone Interview Questions
One word most people never use about interviews is "fun." And yet, fun questions to ask can make an interview just that: a fun, engaging experience for everyone.
When you deploy these phone interview questions, you'll not only start having a better time, you'll also get better answers, which helps you make the right decision for the hire.
34. Any advice for your previous boss?
Who doesn't have fun with a little gossip?
35. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?Pretend you’re our CEO. What three concerns about the firm’s future keep you up at night?
It's fun, but it also tells you how well they understand the organization.
36. If I were to hire you for this job and I granted you three promises with regard to working here, what would they be?
Get at what they need from you to be a success in the job.
37. Teach me something I don’t know in the next five minutes.
Test their ability to think on their feet.
38. Describe the color yellow to somebody who is blind.
Get at their out-of-the-box thinking skills here.
39. What do you work toward in your free time?
The truly motivated are also "working toward" something when they aren't getting paid for it.
6 Ice Breaker Phone Interview Questions
A lot of people struggle to relax on the phone, even interviewers. To make sure everyone is calm and ready to ask and answer questions, you need the right ice breaker questions at your disposal.
40. What did you do to prepare for this interview?
They just did it, so they should have a ready answer.
41. Did you ever met any famous person?
It's always a fun story that gets people talking.
42. Do you remember a favorite childhood memory?
Let them relive their innocence with you.
43. Which was your last seen favorite movie?
Whatever it was, they'll be eager to give you the plot.
44. Which advice do you think is the best one you have ever got?
It'll come with an anecdote, and it will tell you a lot about how they see the world.
45. Have you recently noticed anything that made you laugh a lot?
Let them tell the story, laugh along, and let everyone relax.
6 Funny Phone Interview Questions
Laughter helps lower the defenses. In an interview, you want honesty and the interviewee wants to create the best possible version of themselves. Cut through that with funny questions to ask. You'll get them laughing, and then you'll get their honesty.
46. What do you think of garden gnomes?
One of those phone interview questions that will always get a chuckle.
47. If you ran away and joined the circus, what would your performance be?
It's funny, but you'll know if they're creative or bold by the answer.
48. Why do tennis balls have that yellow fuzz on them?
See how well they speculate, all while having a chuckle.
49. If you were a brand, what would your motto be?
Since they'll represent your brand, you want an answer here.
50. How would you sell ice cream in Antarctica?
A great one for people who are interviewing for a sales position.
51. What would your first steps be in a zombie apocalypse?
How well do they handle a crisis...even a ridiculous one?
5 Unique Phone Interview Questions
A lot of people you interview will have done a lot of interviews in their time. To make your interview unique, and get real answers, you have to ask unique interview questions.
Make sure you're getting the real, genuine stuff with these phone interview questions.
52. If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose?
Get to the justification, that'll tell you more about them.
53. What was the last gift you gave someone?
You'll know more about how thoughtful they are from this.
54. If you could compare yourself with any animal, which would it be and why
Does their answer match with what you know of their personality?
55. If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?
Find out if they are actually interesting beyond their qualifications.
56. In the news story of your life, what would the headline say?
Let them sum themselves up for you.
6 Weird Phone Interview Questions
Sometimes, to get a good idea of who someone is over the phone, you need to ask them some real curve ball weird questions to ask. The best phone interview questions to get at this tend to be...well, weird.
With weird interview questions, you'll get a lot of "huh?" answers first, but then, you'll get at something they haven't ever expressed in an interview before.
57. How much would you charge to wash every window in Seattle?
If they can give you a relatively good answer, you know they can think on their feet.
58. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Who do they really admire, and why?
59. How do I rate as an interviewer?
See if they can be critical and do it in a good way without preparation.
60. Do you believe in Bigfoot?
How well can they handle crazy questions delicately?
61. Do you personally change the oil in your car?
Find out if they're a hands on person or if they avoid the dirty work.
62. What if someone asks you to join at “double” the pay we offer?
If they say they wouldn't consider it, they aren't being genuine with you.
5 Group Phone Interview Questions
Group interviews can really help you see who stands out and what the problems are on a team, but they can be tricky over the phone. Using these group interview questions, you'll be able to maximize the time you have with these people, so you can fix what isn't working and raise up those who deserve it.
63. Who would you hire from your group? Why?
See who can give a compliment and put others first, and see who everyone chooses.
64. What was your personal contribution to the team’s performance?
Let them justify their place in front of everyone. You'll see the slackers right away.
65. Why did this team struggle to accomplish the objective?
Who's giving excuses and who gives real answers?
66. Are you a leader or are you a follower?
Get directly at who can stand up and make the team work better.
67. How would your colleagues describe you?
Find out how self-aware they are and compare it to what others actually say about them.
How To Pick The Best Phone Interview Questions
Having a successful interview is about more than having a ton of questions, it's about choosing the right questions for that particular interview.
You've got all the best phone interview questions now. All that's left is learning how to select the ones you need from the list above.
1. Picture the Ideal New Employee
Think of the ideal new employee at your job and reverse engineer the interview from there. What questions do you need to ask in order to get the answers you want to hear from that new hire?
2. Home In on What Will Make This Person a Success
Part of constructing the interview backwards is seeing what qualities need to come out in the interview that let you know this person is the one. Think of the qualities that would make them a success in this position, and then look for questions that would display these qualities best.
For instance, is this a management position? Then get at questions that show quality leadership and team-building skills.
3. Cut Out the Same Old Questions
Most of us have been through quite a few interviews over the course of our careers. That means, we've all got stock answers to stock questions. So, cut out the obvious ones they expect to make them come up with new answers.
4. Make It Fun
Interviews go two ways. The interviewee is also checking to see if this is a place they want to work.
If you want to give a good impression so they want the job when you offer it, show them that the job is fun by making the interview fun. Ask fun, creative questions, so they know they're stepping into a fun, creative job.
Downloadable and Printable List of Best Phone Interview Questions
Here is a downloadable and printable list of Phone Interview Questions (right click the image and select Save Image As):
More Great Questions To Ask
Life isn't always all about interviews. And yet, no matter what we're doing, if we're doing it with someone else, we probably need to be asking questions.
To ensure you don't draw a blank in any situation, use more of our question guides so you've always got to best question for the moment.
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- Use random questions to ask to get at great answers and great conversation.
- Follow every step to how to start a conversation, so you're never stuck with silence.
- Say so long to the days of the awkward pause by learning how to keep a conversation going without any gaps.
Interviews are an art, but with the right phone interview questions, you've at least got the bones of the process down. You'll have all the right questions to ask in front of you. From there, it's all about reading how the person responds to your interview questions.
If they hit the mark on every one of them, you know you've got a new hire.