The 5 Best Questions To Ask When Conducting A Phone Interview

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woman conducting phone interview

© Elenathewise / Adobe Stock

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Melissa Ricker10
June 16, 2024 at 3:15PM UTC
Pre-screening potential new hires over the phone is essential to hiring the best possible employees. By effectively conducting phone interviews, you will save valuable time and improve the quality of your future teammates. Here are five great phone interview questions you can ask during a phone interview to determine whether this is a candidate you'd like to bring in for a formal interview.

1. Tell me what you like most about this role and our company.

I love this question because it lets you know immediately how much effort the candidate has put in up until now. Has he/she researched the company? What does he/she know about the position? Does he/she have similar core values? Serious candidates should be prepared for this question and should have a genuine-sounding answer about why the role appeals to them and why they believe they'd be a great fit.

2. Why are you leaving your current role?

This is a great question to ask to determine if this potential new candidate is a good match for your role and your company. For example, if they are leaving their current job because they want to puruse a position that's more in line with an interest they have, but you know they wouldn't have the chance to explore that interest in the role you're offering, this may not work out. Still, make sure to listen to the interviewee's entire answer before making a judgement call. Sometimes there is more to the story than they originally let on. Don't be afraid to ask a few detailed questions.

3. What are your strengths/what kind of work do you most enjoy?

I like to ask this question both from a professional and personal standpoint. I like to know what they are best at in the workplace as well as what they enjoy doing outside of work. I'm looking for someone who has good balance in life and possesses skills that will translate into my team.

4. What type of work do you not enjoy?

Most people perform better at things they enjoy and worse at things they don't. I want to know that my employees enjoy (or at least don't hate) the tasks they will be expected to perform. If my new position involves a lot of desk work, but the candidate hates being on the computer, it probably will not work out long term.

5. What are your salary expectations?

While asking about salary history is now (understandably!) illegal in some cities and states because it could unfarily subject someone to being underpaid throughout the course of their career, it is ideal to get a sense of what a candidate expects or hopes for in terms of salary.
Gathering this info can save you a lot of time; why spend an hour interviewing someone who won't take the job unless you can pay them twice what you're able to? It can also help you gauge whether your offer is realistic. If you have a salary in mind for the position, yet everyone you speak to is expecting to make twice that amount, you may need to rethink your plan. 
Take some time to think through the questions you will ask during your phone interview and what you are hoping to learn from each question. By doing so, you'll be sure to end up with the best candidates for the job!
Melissa is a success coach to high-achieving women. She helps women crush through their personal and career goals through a step-by-step formula for success. Check out her blog at
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