Five Phone Interview Questions Candidates Can Count On

May 14, 2018


Considering the costs of traditional onboarding, many organizations are opting first for phone interviews. Here are five questions candidates can count on.

  1. How does this position align with your long-term career goals? This question is frequently asked not only so that the candidate can explain how the role fits into career goals, but also to determine the interviewee’s level of desire. If the person really, really wants the job, this passion will be demonstrated when the candidate paints a match-up of his professional experience compared to the overall job description and qualifications.
  2. How do you typically plan your day or week? Today’s workplace often feels like a labyrinth of distractions and fire drills. An interviewer who asks this question is trying to assess the candidate’s organizational and planning skills. Proper planning is critical regardless of an employee’s rank, so strong candidates must succinctly share their planning and prioritization routines—including any apps or tools used. Sharing specific examples of how an interviewee was able to remain productive despite major challenges, because of stellar planning, is a surefire way to, ‘Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately,’ Dale Carnegie’s 14th Human Relations principle.
  3. What compelled you to apply for this position? This question is usually posed to determine how much research a candidate has performed on the industry, organization and the role. For example, if a candidate says she is most excited about the opportunity to collaborate with a team, but the role is mainly an analytical one, she may not understand the role’s responsibilities. Instead of mentioning workplace perks, candidates should focus on which specific aspects of the organization, industry and role are most appealing to demonstrate their level of interest and enthusiasm.
  4. Tell me about a time someone gave you feedback that was hard to hear, but you ultimately found to be very valuable? When an interviewer poses this question, the intention is to ascertain your level of coachability. Dale Carnegie’s 17th principle, ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view,’ is an important leadership trait because only by imagining ‘walking in another person’s shoes,’ can we truly understand them. Whereas employees who are open to constructive criticism typically improve quickly, those who are not will struggle to overcome obstacles. Hiring a coachable person is beneficial because they are more likely to be long-term valuable employees.
  5. In your current role, which skill is the most important one that you’ve learned and why? Although the candidate’s resume lists all skills, interviewers use this question to probe for examples of the application of specific skills. For example, if ‘facilitate management workshops’ is listed as a skill, it behooves the candidate to explain why it was important to learn it, e.g., “Learning how to facilitate workshops for executive teams was highly beneficial for me because not only did I gain new knowledge, but I also became much more confident in all aspects of my role as well.”
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