7 Phone Interview FAQs


Wondering what to expect during your upcoming phone interview? We’ve put together seven of the most frequently asked questions about phone interviews so that you can put your mind at ease.

Many job candidates are understandably nervous about accepting a recruiter call, so don’t feel bad if the idea of a phone interview makes you a little queasy. If you are like most people, you don’t know what to expect during your phone interview, but the more you understand about this initial step in the job hiring process, the more at ease you will be. While you are anxiously waiting for your phone to ring, do yourself a favor and give your confidence level a boost by studying the following helpful phone interview FAQs.

Q. How long are phone interviews?

Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry answer to this question. Depending on the hiring manager or recruiter making the call, your interview could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or longer. It is wise to block out an hour and a half of your day around your scheduled call just in case your interview runs longer than expected.

Build My ResumeQ. Is a phone interview really necessary?

It depends on the employer. Some employers prefer to conduct only on-site interviews, while others prefer to narrow the applicant field by conducting phone interviews first. If the employer says you need a phone interview, it is typically non-negotiable.

Q. How should I greet the interviewer?

Just be courteous and professional. If you are receiving a phone call from an unknown number and you think it may be the recruiter, make sure you state your name when you answer. For example, you might say, “Hello, this is Jeff Carter.” The interviewer should then introduce himself or herself by telling you his or her name and what company he or she is calling on from. Once introductions have been made, take a moment to thank the interview for his or her willingness to speak with you. Starting your phone call off in a professional and courteous manner can help set the stage for the rest of your interview.

Q. What types of questions should I expect?

Phone interview questions are usually designed to give the recruiter a general overview of your qualifications, personality, and experience. You should expect standard questions like “Tell me more about yourself” and “Why are you interested in this particular job?” You should also prepare for a few potential oddball questions that might catch you off guard at first. Examples of these might include “If you could be any animal in the world, which one would you choose?” and “Who is your favorite supervillain, and why?”Â

While you may fail to see the purpose in these types of questions, that is the entire point. The interviewer may ask strange questions to see how you react to unconventional situations. Just remember to keep your cool and take a moment to think your answer through before responding to unusual phone interview questions.

Q. Are there any phone etiquette rules I should be aware of?

Yes, there are. Most are common sense, but some may not be as obvious. Some of the most important phone etiquette rules include refraining from eating or chewing, eliminating background noise and never interrupting.

Q. How do I avoid awkward silences?

To put it simply, you don’t. With rare exceptions, most phone interviews will be peppered with occasional quiet periods. Hopefully, these will only be the momentary result of the recruiter glancing over his or her notes and deciding what to ask you next. Refrain from spouting off the first thing that comes to your mind in a desperate attempt to relieve the silence. If you notice that the silence seems unusually long, politely ask the interviewer if you are permitted to ask a few questions of your own. You will most likely receive a positive response, or you may find out that the silence is due to a dropped call.

Q. How do I end the call?

The interviewer will most likely let you know when he or she has finished asking all of his or her questions. He or she may then invite you to ask a few questions of your own. When you are finished, bring the conversation to a close by asking the interviewer if he or she needs any additional information from you, and inquiring about when you should expect to hear back. Thank the person once again for his or her time as you wrap up your successful phone interview.