The Best Phone Screen Interview Questions

By Karan Munyal May 24, 2017 at 3:48pm

When you're hiring, you can spend a lot of time interviewing job candidates who don't meet your needs before you interview one who does. One way to speed up your search is to use the phone screen interview. A candidate's answers to key phone screening interview questions can allow you to speedily identify the most promising candidates. 

The process is straightforward: Once you've used candidates' resume to narrow the applicant pool for your job opening, schedule each of those candidates for a brief phone screen interview. This step can save you the time and trouble involved in meeting in person and interviewing job candidates who, despite strong resumes, don't meet all your needs. 

The answers to quick phone screen interview questions can tell you a lot about whether an applicant is likely to have the right mix of skills and experience for the position and a work style that will suit your office. Plus, a relatively impromptu phone call can give you a better idea of the candidate's interpersonal skills than a formal, rehearsed interview would. 

The best phone screen interview questions to ask 

When asking phone screen interview questions, be sure to raise any concerns — and especially any red flags — that came up when you first read the candidate's resume. Did the resume omit an important technical skill? Was there a mysterious gap in the candidate's employment? This phone call is an opportunity to raise all your concerns. If the candidate's answers to your phone screening interview questions don't satisfy you, you've saved yourself the time involved in interviewing that candidate in person. 

In addition, you can use this opportunity to get a sense of a candidate's work style and soft skills. You can also learn more about the candidate's expectations for the position. 

There's nothing magical about what questions to ask; many of the same questions that you're used to asking during in-person interviews can be used as phone screening interview questions. But, in general, plan to ask fewer questions and to save more in-depth questions for the in-person meeting, when you have more time to spend with the candidate and can use his or her body language to help evaluate the responses.  

Here are some examples of good phone screen interview questions: 

  • Tell me a little bit about yourself. 
  • Why do you want this job? 
  • How would you describe your work style? 
  • What is a typical day like at your current (or most recent) job? 
  • What reasons do you have for leaving your current (or most recent) job? 
  • What skills have you learned recently? 
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? 
  • How do you see yourself contributing in this position? 
  • What do you hope to get out of this job? 
  • What questions do you have for me? 

Planning your phone screening interview questions 

You may choose to plan for shorter or longer calls, but many employers find that it typically takes 15 to 30 minutes to ask all pertinent phone screening interview questions. Once you've decided how long you can spend on the calls, you can decide which general questions you want to ask each candidate. Being consistent with your questions allows you make fair comparisons between candidates. Of course, you also want to be sure to ask any specific questions raised by a candidate's resume. 

Using phone screen interview questions to narrow the candidate field can be an important part of an effective candidate evaluation process. With a little planning, you can save yourself a lot of time and be that much closer to a successful hire. 

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