The Best Phone Screen Interview Questions


The Best Phone Screen Interview Questions

Many people have strong resumes but do not necessarily match your expected criteria for the job. A phone screen interview is one way of narrowing down your list of potential employees and is often used as a precursor to actual panel or face-to-face interviews. Because of its brief nature, it saves time and even cost in cases where out-of-state or foreign candidates are being considered.

Phone screen interview questions are basically the deciding factor of who gets shortlisted. It is more likely for an impromptu call to give you better results than interviewing a candidate who is well prepared, rehearsed, and probably has a cheat sheet.

Demystifying the best phone screen interview questions

Like all other interviews, you have to begin by planning. First, you will need to plan the duration of your call and when you are actually going to call. In instances where it was preplanned with the candidate, keep time and call as agreed. You will need to have your questions ready. After reviewing the applicant’s resume, it can be helpful to jot down a few bullet points on areas that need to be clarified. Sometimes, unexpected circumstances like the candidate not picking up or being on voicemail may arise. You need to be adequately prepared for any unusual occurrences.

Anatomy of phone screen interview questions

Most interviewers find that it takes 15-30 minutes to conduct a phone interview. While this may vary accordingly, a usual 30 minute interview should be segmented as:

  • Introduction [5 minutes] – go over all necessary introductions.
  • Job description [5 minutes] – outline all the information on the hiring company and the job being offered.
  • Candidate input [15 minutes] – time for the candidate to talk about job qualification, expertise, experience, and other information about themselves that pertain to that specific job.
  • Questions from the interviewer [5 minutes] – Avoid repetition on matters already disclosed. Short time is recommended so as on to dominate the process.
  • Closure [5 minutes] – closure with regards from both sides for the session and disclosure of the next step to be taken.

What to ask

These range from frequently asked phone screen interview questions to company-specific ones. They need to be tailored around: candidates work background, the new job offer & company, and ‘about-you’ queries.

Work background questions

  • Name of previous or current employer, company name, position occupied, job description, and duration of employment
  • Remuneration rates – what is their current required rate?
  • Any major challenges encountered or successes achieved as well as how they are rated in their field of work
  • Why they want to leave their current occupation if actively employed.  If not currently employed, why did they leave their last employer?

New job offer & company

  • Do they remember applying for the job?
  • What attracted their attention in your job offer?
  • What are they looking for in that position?
  • Are they planning career advancement?
  • Do they feel qualified for the job?
  • What do they know about your company?
  • Do they expect any challenges?
  • What contribution can they bring on board your company?
  • Are they open to relocation?
  • What kind of remuneration do they expect from you?
  • How available they are for the position?

‘About-you’ questions

You should not only focus on strengths and weaknesses but on the broader candidate personality. Ask:

  • What their strengths are
  • Their weaknesses
  • Their source of motivation
  • The kind of workload they can handle
  • How best they work under pressure
  • How they would handle certain hypothetical scenarios
  • If they prefer specific work environments for maximum output
  • How they measure success

Asking the right phone screen interview questions

Here is what you need to do during the interview to make sure you are on track.

Take proper notes

Regardless of whatever kind of memory you have, you will not always remember everything. Take short notes and in case you need to record the conversations, have proper equipment.

Keep a scorecard

To keep a good scorecard, ask consistent questions. Base your scores in areas such as experience, communication skills, expertise, knowledge etc.

Don’t dominate the conversation

Be patient and talk for the time you are supposed to in order to get the best out of the interview.

Observe proper phone etiquette

As much as you expect the candidate to display certain behavior, apply the same to yourself too.

These techniques will help you to close in on your ideal candidates.


Phone screen interviews have proven invaluable to companies over time. This is because they are effective evaluation, time saving tools. If you ask the right phone screen interview questions, a successful hire is within your reach. The Griffin Groupe handles the entire vetting process for you and only delivers highly qualified candidates for your consideration. Call us at any time for a free hiring consultation at 855-WE-STAFF or place a 3-minute job order.

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