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Telephone Interview Questions and Answers

Updated on Dec 07, 2020 29082 views

You have worked hard to create a winning CV, your cover letter was stunning enough to get the recruiter's attention, and now your prospective employer has scheduled a telephone interview to know you better.

Surprised right?

Having a telephone interview may come as a bit of a surprise to you because it sounds quite unofficial plus you don’t know what to expect especially if it is your first time.

It is common for job seekers to expect an ‘in-person interview’ invite after they send their application, but with today’s digital world, many first stage interviews and even some final interviews are held in a diversity of mediums including on the phone.

When many job seekers hear about a telephone interview, they let down their guards and throw all they have learned out of the window. Getting a telephone interview invite is not an opportunity for you to be in your favorite pyjamas while you chit-chat with the recruiter.

Just like you prepare for an in-person-interview you also have to prepare for a telephone interview even more because you can’t rely on body language when you are having a telephone conversation.

If you have been scheduled for a telephone interview, then it is time for you to prepare for questions that you would likely be asked. Knowing the tips to answer telephone interview questions plus practicing the common telephone interview questions and answers will help you crush the interview.

In this article, we are going to walk you through the top telephone interview questions and answers that will help you get hired fast.


Let’s get right into it…

  • How did you hear about this position?
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • Why did you leave your last position
  • Why do you want to work here
  • Tell me about your current job, what do you do now?
  • What motivates you
  • What do you hope to learn from this job
  • What is your salary expectation
  • Do you have any question for me


1. How did you hear about this position?

This may sound like a simple question, but there are some things that the recruiter wants to find out when they ask you this question.

Many times the employer may ask you this question because they want to find out if their job posting channel is effective.

For other companies that don’t advertise their positions, the employer may want to find out how you got to see the vacancy. These kinds of employers may likely want to know if you researched the company.

Tip: To answer this question correctly, you have to be sincere about how you found the position.


“A former colleague who knew I was actively searching for a job recommended your company, so I decided to visit your company’s website and I discovered this position, and it looked like a great fit for me because of my career path. So I decided to apply to learn more about the company.”

“I was searching for jobs online that would allow me to practice my photography skills while I also work as a content developer. I came across the job description for this position and it was exactly what I was looking for, so I decided to apply.”



2. Tell me about yourself?

As common as this question is, recruiters, don’t ask this question for the fun of it. They ask this question because they want to know some basic information about you like;

  • Do you have the required experience to do the job?
  • What makes you more qualified for the job than other candidates?
  • What makes you stand out from other candidates that you did not mention in your cover letter and CV.?
  • If your passion is related to the job that you are applying for.
  • If your personality type matches the job that you are applying for

Employers simply ask this question because they want to find out if you are generally a great fit for the job asides relying on the information on your CV.

Tip to answering this question: Answering this question is like giving an elevator pitch, so you have to be concise with your response. To answer this question, you can start with what you are passionate about in your career, the achievements that you have had in your previous jobs, your current career plans and reasons for the plan.


I have always been fascinated by how people have used science to solve lots of problems. It is this passion that made me study applied chemistry. After my undergraduate degree, I carried out some personal chemical researches and enrolled in the famous AZAR chemistry competition where I emerged the winner.

Three years ago, I took a job with AGROLIED as a chemist, and I was promoted after 1 year as a project manager due to my performance. I have been working as a project manager for two years now and I won the company annual prize for outstanding leadership. I had a great time working as a project manager, but I would like to take my career to the next level by searching for opportunities to lead larger teams of 10-20 people.”


3. What do you know about this company?

Many job seekers wonder why interviewers ask this question. Interviewers ask this question simply because they want to know if you have done your research on the company. The interviewer also wants to know if you have taken time to determine if the company will be a good place for you.

Employers believe that anyone can apply for any job, but a passionate candidate will take time to find out more about the company they want to work for.

Tip to answering this question: To answer this question well, don’t just repeat the company’s about us page, but pick out one or two things about the company that resonates with you (it can be their mission, their product or even the company’s culture).

Explain what you admire about any of these things, and how it relates to you.


If you are applying for a job in Myjobmag, your answer can be something like this;

“I have been reading your career advice article for years now, and I admire the effort you put into helping people learn and build the career that they are passionate about. I have spent the early years of my career hopping from one job field to another before I finally found my feet in media and branding. I see this position as an opportunity for me to help others find their career path.”


4. Why did you leave your last position

When employers ask this question, they just don’t want to poke their nose in your affairs; they want to find out why you left your previous job, to determine if you would face the same challenge(s) with them.

If the challenge(s) that you experienced in your previous job looks like something that you would encounter in this new job, then the recruiter may not see you as a good fit or prepare a solution beforehand.

Tips for answering this question: As tricky as this question may be, it should not stop you from being honest about what happened. Even as much as you should be sincere, you should also give smart responses.

If you did not leave your previous job on a good note, there is no need for you to go on and bad mouth your boss or your previous company. You should rather focus on what you are looking forward to achieving in the future.


“I have been working as a sales representative for many years now, while I love the fact that I am able to sell products across different countries, I would love to apply my sales skills to the tech space. I believe this job would give me the perfect opportunity to do that”.


5. Why do you want to work here

Interviewers ask this question because they want to learn about your career goals and how it fits into the position that you are applying for. Interviewers also ask this question to make sure you are sincerely interested in the job and not just applying for the job because you just need to get paid.

Employers look forward to hiring people that would be passionate about the job. So the reason you are applying for the job goes a long way to determine if you are passionate about the job or not.

Tips for answering the question:  Tell the interviewer what interests you about the company and the role. Researching the company before your interview will help you answer the question.


“Aside from the reputation that ABC Company has built, which is a factor. It would be an honour for me to work in a company which has been heading the manufacturing sector.

My former colleague who now works for ABC Company told me that the company supports learning and development on the job which is something that I look forward to.”


6. Tell me about your current job, what do you do now?

Interviewers always ask this question during a telephone interview to have an idea of what your responsibilities were in your previous position to see if it will be similar to the position that you are applying for.

The interviewer also wants to know how you performed your job to evaluate how you would perform in this job that you are applying for especially if the positions are the same.

Tips for answering this question: This question is one of the most important interview questions that you will be asked during a telephone interview. So you should be ready to answer this question with specific details.

Talk about:

  • What you do in your current position.
  • What you learned.
  • The technologies and tools that you worked with.
  • The results that you helped your company achieve

You should remember to mention things that would be relevant to the position that you are applying for. Studying the job description will help you achieve that.


“I work as a digital marketer, and I was responsible for my company’s website overall growth and optimization. I was able to increase online traffic to the company’s website blog by 40% in one year. I was able to achieve this with my increased knowledge of different digital marketing tools like google analytics, etc.

When I saw the job description of this position and discovered that you were looking for someone that will grow your company’s blog traffic which is something that I had done before. I know that taking this position will give me the opportunity to provide a solution and also to build myself”


7. What motivates you

When recruiters ask this question, there are some things they want to find out about you and why you are a good fit for the job.

As much as it is good for you to be sincere, it is important for you to say something that is related to the job. The interviewer wants to understand your personality, drive, etc. The interviewer also wants to know if the work environment is one that you can thrive in.

Tips for answering this question: When you are answering this question, don’t talk about other things that motivate you that are not related to the job. Don’t give an answer like; Music motivates me”. This kind of response will immediately tell the interview that you are not ready for the job.

This does not mean that music is not good enough, but if it does not relate to the job that you are applying for, then it will not be good enough for the interviewer.

Talk about aspects of the job that you are passionate about. Talk about things that motivate you about the job, etc.


“Challenges are things that motivate me to create new ideas to solve a problem. I like to challenge myself on a personal level to become a better version of myself. This is what attracted me to ICT. The fact that I can build soft wares that can solve some basic human problems is what motivates me to do more.

My passion for problem-solving has forced me to acquire new skills that I never would have thought of before. It has changed the way I do and even perceive things. Any challenging environment will be a motivating environment for me.”


8. What do you hope to learn from this job

When interviewers ask this question, most times they want to know what you are passionate about. They also want to know if you are someone that takes learning seriously and if you are someone that is passionate about growth and development.

Interviewers will likely ask you this question if you are applying for an entry-level job. If you don’t have work experience, then you should keep an open mind to learn as much as possible.

Tips for answering this question: When you are answering this question, you should pay attention to the job description and see what you would likely learn. If you are looking to learn a particular skill, then make sure it is related to the position.

When you are sharing about what you want to learn in the job, make sure you show your excitement for this potential opportunity.


“I would like to learn more about leadership. I know that taking this position will give me many opportunities to expand my knowledge of leadership as I manage the sales team. I am excited that this role will give me opportunities to improve my business skills.”


9. What is your salary expectation

Most times the telephone interview is conducted before the in-person interview, and the interviewer may ask you about your salary expectation to know if what the company can offer is in line with what your expectation is.

Interviewers use this question to shortlist the number of candidates applying for a particular position.

Tips for answering this question: This question can appear to be a tricky question because you are scared of either giving an amount that is too low or giving an amount that it is too high that may make you lose the opportunity.

You should do your research to make sure that you provide an accurate salary range. You can take a look at the salary range of your position or find out what you worth.


“My salary requirement is flexible, but I acknowledge the fact that I do have experience in sales which I believe add value to my candidacy. I look forward to discussing in more detail what my responsibility will be. From there, we can determine compensation for the position.”


10. Do you have any question for me

Employers ask this question not just to continue the telephone conversation, but because they want to know and understand what kind of person you are.

Employers look forward to hiring people that know what they want and are passionate about it. Employers are looking forward to hiring people that are looking for great fits, and not people that are looking for any fit at all.

Tips for answering this question: Don’t ask questions that are not related to the job that you are applying for. Ask a few questions that are related to the position or the company.

Your questions should revolve around the following:

  • The job duties.
  • The team.
  • The company overall culture.
  • The training you’ll receive.
  • How your performance will be measured.
  • The job interview process.


These are questions that you can ask if the recruiter asks you if you have any question:

  • What is the next step after this interview process?
  • How long does your recruitment process take?
  • If I get hired for this position, what is the ideal starting date?
  • Can you tell me more about the role, asides what is on the job description?
  • When can I expect to hear from someone about this job?
  • Who should I get in touch with after the interview?
  • How should I contact you?
  • If I don’t hear from you, what should be the best time to call back?
  • How will I be notified if I get the job?
  • When will I hear about the result?
  • What will the onboarding process be like?

Click here for more interview questions to ask your interviewer.


Why Interviewers conduct a telephone interview?

The interviewer just doesn’t conduct telephone interviews for the fun of it, they conduct telephone interviews for different reasons.

Interviewers conduct interviews for these reasons:

  • To eliminate candidate

Interviewers conduct telephone question because they want to eliminate candidates that are applying for the position. When interviewers ask you some questions during the telephone interview, they are trying to find out if you are a good fit for the position before they decide whether or not they should continue the interview.

  • It reduces the recruitment cost

Companies conduct telephone interviews to reduce the resources that they will spend in the recruitment process. Both for manpower and revenue, talking to a candidate over the phone will help the employer reduce the recruitment cost on a candidate that they are yet to employ.

  • It reduces the risk of employing the wrong candidates

Conducting a telephone interview will help the employer not just to eliminate candidates but save them the time and the cost of employing the wrong people.

The more time an interviewer spends on recruitment, the lesser the risk the employer will have employing the wrong people. Conducting a telephone interview will help the interviewer get more time to follow a recruitment process which will eventually help them hire the right people.


Tips for Answering Telephone Interview Questions

  • Take the telephone interview as serious as you would take an ‘in-person-interview’.
  • Make sure you are not in an environment that is full of distractions so that you don’t interrupt the conversation.
  • Do some research about the position and the company before the interview?
  • Make sure you pay close attention to the interviewer during the conversation and don’t dominate the conversation.
  • Take your time when you are answering the interviewer’s questions.
  • Send a thank you mail after the interview.


Telephone interviews are just like in-person-interviews, and so you should prepare for your telephone interview just like you would prepare for other interviews.

If you have an interview coming up soon, we have created a list of 100 interview questions and answers that will help ace your interviews.

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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