9 Phone Screening Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 24, 2022

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

After applying for a job, a hiring manager may offer you a preliminary phone interview. This is your opportunity to show them that you're a personable and qualified candidate. By effectively answering several basic interview questions, you can move onto the next round of interviews. In this article, we explain what this kind of interview entails and share several phone screening interview questions with sample answers to help you prepare.

What are phone screening interview questions?

Phone screening interview questions are how hiring managers determine which candidates can move forward to in-person or more extensive interviews. They use these questions to get a better understanding of a candidate's intentions for applying to their company. Your phone screening interview is your chance to show employers that you have a strong interest in their company and can add value to their team. This is your opportunity to show your personality and highlight your most impressive qualifications.

9 interview questions for preliminary phone screenings

Here are several phone screening interview questions a hiring manager might ask:

1. Tell me about yourself.

This simple question helps hiring managers learn about your background. While they want to hear about your professional side, this is also a good time to share some information about your interests and hobbies. When answering this question, incorporate what led you to this career along with some light-hearted details about your interests outside of work.

Example: "I'm a well-seasoned journalist who got my start in Toronto. After taking several journalism courses in university, I know that this was the right career path for me. I began my career by writing for the school newspaper and eventually landing an internship at my town's paper. After a year of taking on local stories, I transitioned to become the lead business writer, covering more extensive topics like the stock market and the economy.

When I'm not researching another story, I keep myself busy through photography. While this is a hobby, several publications have featured my work. I'm also currently training for a marathon, which I find keeps me active after a full day of writing."

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2. Why are you applying for this position?

Interviewers also sometimes phrase this as, “What about this job interests you?” It tells employers whether you're serious and have a genuine interest in pursuing the position. To answer this question, use details listed in the job description that made you want to apply. These can be duties, details about the company, or something about the role that aligns with your career goals.

Example: “I've been working for several years on gaining skills in your industry. I feel I have the knowledge, skills, and qualifications you're looking for, along with a unique perspective coming from a different industry. I'm passionate about working in the environmental protection space, and it's time for me to make a change. Your company is the perfect place for me to do that.”

Related: 19 Common Interview Questions and Answers

3. Tell me what you know about the role.

Employers ask this question to ensure you did your research prior to your phone interview. They want to hear that you know what the general expectations of the role are. This question also helps them know what additional information they need to share with you about the role. Prior to your interview, carefully read through the job posting and do some research about the company.

Example: "I know this role requires me to work nights and weekends, which I'm completely comfortable doing. I have a very flexible schedule. I also know that this role is perfect for someone with several years of management experience. As someone who has managed different offices, I'm confident I have the leadership and communication skills you're looking for in a candidate."

4. Why do you want to work here?

Your phone interviewer might ask why you want to work at the company to get an idea of whether you've researched the company, what motivates you, and whether your values align with those of the business. To answer this question, research the company by visiting their company page, their website, and recent press releases or news stories. Select a few key items from your research that align with the company. For example, you might find inspiration in their mission, be interested in their product, or be excited about their growth in the industry.

Example: “After building my career managing hospitality staff, it's been my goal to work for a hotel that not only values the growth and achievement of their employees but also maintains an exquisite, affordable experience for their guests. I read your recent press release about implementing a truly innovative rewards program for guests at all levels, even those visiting for the first time. Your company continues to set a precedent for quality service and experience, and I am looking for a career working toward that kind of mission.”

5. What are you passionate about?

Finding an ambitious candidate may be important to some employers, which is why they might ask this question. They want to know that you're excited about the work you're doing. In your answer, choose a specific aspect of your career you enjoy. Discussing a new skill you're developing or credential you're earning are good starting points.

Example: "I am passionate about learning new leadership methods. As a manager, I think it's important to develop new ways to communicate with and support my team members. This past autumn, I attended a leadership workshop to further develop these skills. During this workshop, I learned how to be a more active listener and gained strategies to motivate my team members."

6. Why are you looking for jobs?

Employers might ask this question during your phone interview to see if there are any concerns about your employment situation. If you have a job but are looking for new opportunities, simply explain why. Make your answer focused on your career instead of personal reasons or small preferences like hours or commute time. For example, you might be looking for new jobs because there are few opportunities for growth or movement in your current role.

If there are any gaps in your resume, explain them briefly and address the ways you've been using your time to improve your skills and work styles.

Example: “I'm looking for opportunities to start my career as a project coordinator. Working as an executive assistant has given me abundant experience in managing and organizing schedules, so I'm ready to take the next step in my career. I feel especially qualified for this position because I've worked in the retail industry in my last two administrative roles. I'm more than ready to start my project coordination career and would be excited for it to be with your company.”

7. When can you start?

This question helps employers determine if your job timeline aligns with theirs. Before your interview, determine your personal timeline. Account for the notice you need to give your current employer and whether you want any time off of work prior to your next job.

Example: "I can start as soon as you need me. Of course, if I get this role, I want to give my current employer a two-week resignation. Once that's over, I'm eager to start right away."

8. What are your salary expectations?

Employers might ask this question to see if the salary you expect aligns with what they budgeted for the role. It can also help them understand if you're over or perhaps under-qualified for the position. To answer this question, it's best to provide a range to show that you're flexible, but also that you expect to earn a certain amount. The interviewer may not cover this in your preliminary phone screening, but it's advisable to prepare an answer so you can reply with confidence.

Example: “For this position, my ideal salary falls in the range of $55,000 to $65,000. I feel this is an appropriate amount for my experience level in this position.”

9. Do you have any questions?

Having questions shows employers that you have a high level of interest in the role. Prior to your interview, plan several questions to ask. Rather than asking about things like benefits or salary at this stage in the interview, ask questions that show you want to be a part of the team. Topics like daily tasks, company culture, and professional development are appropriate at this stage in the hiring process.

Example: "First, I want to thank you for giving me such an in-depth overview of this role. One thing I'm still wondering about is the training I would undergo as a new hire. While I'm quite experienced in project management, you mentioned your team created its own software to use. Because I'm unfamiliar with that, what's the learning curve?"

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