Small Business Tips

Phone Interview Questions to Ask New Hires

Manasa Reddigari

Tempted to say "You're hired!" to a job applicant that looks perfect on paper? Hold the phone! There are aspects of a candidate's qualifications and personality that you can check during a phone interview.

If you're not sure what to ask, here are ten phone interview questions to bring up during a phone screening and what the answers can tell you.

Why are you applying for this position?

The best candidates can give an answer that demonstrates how their experience, interests and character traits fit with what your business does. Candidates who give non-specific answers on this question ("It's a great company, "It pays well," etc.) likely haven't done their homework about your company.

Why are you leaving your current role?

Use this commonly-asked question to figure out whether the candidate left for reasonable cause or because he or she has difficulty getting along with others or putting up with minor inconveniences on the job. You want to hire someone who will remain committed to your business for the long haul.

Can you meet the physical requirements of the job?

Use phone interview questions such as "Can you travel/lift heavy loads/stand for long periods at a time?" to screen out candidates who don't meet the physical requirements of a job. For example, an answer of "No" on the question "Can you travel for work?" is disqualifying for a sales role that requires a lot of time outside of the office and meeting with clients.

How does your experience qualify you for this position?

Candidates should be able to articulate how their knowledge and abilities align with the core skills of the job. You should lay out these competencies in the job description. If a candidate falters on this question, he may not have studied the job description or may not have the necessary skills or experience to do the job.

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How would you describe your work style?

The answer to this question will tell you if the candidate is an independent self-starter who prefers to stay ahead of schedule or a procrastinator who needs constant managerial supervision to stay on track. You'll know immediately whether the approach expressed aligns or doesn't align with your managerial approach and the culture of your business.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Candidates who made a measurable impact at their previous places of work will cite at least a few notable accomplishments. These achievements might include an award or the success of a major project. Use this question to assess the areas in which a candidate shines and whether his or her strengths could benefit your business, too.

Please give me an example of a time when you successfully led or motivated others.

If hiring for a leadership role, ask this question to gauge whether the candidate has a proven record in leadership. The answer may reveal that a person is more of a follower than a leader. The candidate should also give a concrete example of a successful project that he played a major role in from start to finish.

Describe your biggest work challenge and how you overcame it.

The answer to this question will tell you whether the candidate is capable of overcoming on-the-job hurdles such as conflicting deadlines or conflicting personalities. Candidates who remained flexible and adaptable are more likely to handle obstacles with ease and grace in their new role.

Which task would be at the top of your to-do list if hired?

The ideal candidate will prioritize the most urgent duty at hand above others of lesser priority. Let's say the interviewee identifies a trivial matter for this question. Her answer might signal that she would get bogged down in details and overlook big-picture problems if hired.

Do you have any phone interview questions for me?

An engaged candidate will rarely give a "No" for this question. He will raise phone interview questions about his specific role, the organizational hierarchy or another question about the business to convey his knowledge and interest. The answer can also help reassure you as the interviewer that the candidate sees himself working at your business.

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