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Phone Interview Questions

Good phone interview questions help you get the information you need to screen candidates and decide if you want to pursue the person. By crafting and asking the right questions, you can accomplish a lot in a short period of time.

The last step in your employee screening process before you decide to bring the person in for an interview should be a phone interview. And the key to an effective phone interview is asking effective questions.

Effective questions will all have the following characteristics:

  • Based on a critical job requirement
  • Designed to get a specific piece of information (specific vs general)
  • Force the candidate to tell you "what they did" (describes behavior)
  • Is not theoretical

Your questions should be based on the critical job requirements. Don't ask a question unless it gets very specific data related to one of your requirements.

"How did you solve the delivery problem for custom ABC?"

This question goes right to the heart of how a person solves customer problems. The answer tells you exactly what the person did in a situation similar to one they will face on your job.

You won't get specific information when you ask a general question like, "How do you solve customer problems?" Stay away from general questions and try to make all of your phone interview questions specific.

Be sure to ask questions that force the person to tell you something specific they did.

"How did you implement the new attendance policy in your department?"

The person has to answer by telling you what they did. There isn't room for generalizations. The answer makes it easy to determine if the behavior will be successful in your environment.

Finally, make sure your questions are not theoretical. You are not interested in what they think about a subject. You want to know what they did.

The easiest way to keep your questions non-theoretical is to make certain they are in the past tense. Instead of "what would you do" ask "what did you do". Keeping your questions in the past tense keeps the answer factual instead of based on theory.

Here is a list of sample phone interview questions you can adapt for your own use:

1 What was your role in the _____ project?

2 What was your specific contribution to the XYZ team?

3 How did you put that presentation together?

4 Who else worked with you on that project?

5 How did you learn to use the _____ machine?

6 Walk me through how you processed that order?

7 What percentage of your day do spend face to face with customers?

8 What computer software did you use on that project?

9 Who did you compete against for that sale?

10 How much travel was involved in your last job?


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