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33 Common Phone Interview Questions with Answers

Last updated by Dipen Dadhaniya on Apr 01, 2024 at 01:15 PM | Reading time: 22 minutes

The technical phone screen is the first round that you'll have to appear for in technical interviews.

Eloquence can’t be your only friend while answering phone interview questions. You may have some notion that “If I am plain-spoken and confident with my answers, cracking this interview shouldn’t be an issue.” But note that making a great impression in a technical phone screen involves a lot of other aspects.

What does it take to crack a technical phone screen, you may ask?

Well, what you need is to be cool, calm and collected. You need to let your knowledge and experience speak for itself. Over-exaggeration or excessive explanation won’t bear you any fruit.

Want to know how to answer phone interview questions in a manner that leaves you with no match?

First, you need to have a clear idea of why you are applying for this particular job position. What is it that this company will gain by hiring you? And finally, what value addition can you offer?

Knowing the answers to these questions and dishing them out in a unique way may be the key to cracking your phone interview without breaking a sweat.

Here's what this article will cover:

  1. Why are phone interviews so common nowadays?
  2. Advantages of a phone screen interview
  3. How to prepare for a phone interview?
  4. What to expect in a phone interview?
  6. Most common telephone interview questions and answers
  7. Test or scenario-based questions
  8. Questions to ask in a phone interview for the employer to answer
  9. Popular phone interview questions at leading companies
  10. Phone interview tips to help you make the cut
  11. Warning signals to watch out for in phone interviews
  12. Questions in a possible follow-up technical round

Why are phone interviews so common nowadays?

Any hiring manager prefers phone interviews as it makes the process of eliminating weak or unsuitable candidates easier. 30 minutes or ever lesser is all it takes for them to analyze your credibility and potential of upholding the job position.

Your challenge: To prove you are worthy of the crown.

In a field as challenging as coding, you will find thousands of talented individuals amidst cut-throat competition. Companies like Apple and Samsung look for much more than your degree.

A job opening in any big shot company tends to attract an inflow of candidates who may or may not be apt for the position available. Now, imagine screening every single one of these applicants. The procedure will not only be tiring but will also make the selection far more difficult.

So, what’s the solution? Conducting a phone screen interview to get a clear image on whom to call for a one-on-one screening is the best possible way out of the fix.  

Advantages of a phone screen interview

Less Anxiety: In any face-to-face interview, the quiet atmosphere of the office cabin may turn you into a bundle of nerves. However, in phone interviews, cracking the code and moving on to the next level is rather simpler.

Do note that the next step is almost always a face-to-face interview. But you’ll have more confidence having cleared the first round with flying colors. With the flexibility of attending an interview on call, you have the comfort of avoiding anxiousness and answering questions with unsurpassed conviction.

Beyond geographical boundaries: Imagine you’re applying for a job outside the state, and you are called for an interview. What will you do? Travel thousands of miles to attend an interview?

You can if you want to, but most companies nowadays offer the option of attending a phone interview first. With this, you can take a step further to living your dream.

On the downside, 30 minutes isn’t enough time to create a lasting impression. You need to up your skills and conversational abilities. Focus is what you need if you wish to truly get into the mind of your interviewer and deliver answers with ease.

How to prepare for a phone interview?

Phone interview prep takes more than confidence and basic knowledge. The key here is to be different. For example, in software engineering, it is a given that you know coding. However, also possessing sound knowledge on deep learning will separate you from the crowd, increasing your credibility.

Here are some pro tips to ace your phone interviews with corporate giants.

Practice your tone

In a phone screen interview, creating an impression through your demeanor isn’t an option. It’s a must.

Check your tone. Your voice is the first thing that the hiring managers will judge before they even hear your answers. So, having a calm yet mature tone is necessary. Try practicing your tonality while speaking. Prepare compact and concise answers for phone screening questions that you think the interviewer may ask, and practice your tone while verbalizing these answers.

Knowing your strengths

The company has no interest in knowing how their job position is a golden opportunity for you. They instead wish to learn why they should select you and not the thousand others waiting outside their office.

“Know your strengths and take advantage of them” – Greg Norman.

What makes you different from the crowd is your strength; so clearly mentioning them at the time of describing yourself is essential.

No multi-tasking

Don’t lose focus or start working on something else while answering common phone interview questions as it won’t be of much help. You must dedicate the entire being of your focus on the interview itself.

Research the company and job position

Keep your eyes open and research the company well. Know about its beginnings, morals, vision and recent achievements. This will help you attain a clear perspective on the company’s requirements. Your interviewer will always presume that you know about the company and its requirements.

Be sure about what you want

This job position is your priority; so, being level-headed and pursuing it is your responsibility. While the position may be appealing, you still need to weigh in your reasons to apply for the job. Make sure you do not end up thinking “No, this proposition wasn’t for me.”

A thorough self-study would do you no harm. Calm your mind and think about why you should avail of this job. List the possible pros and cons and then go ahead.

As long as you are confident about what you want from the job, there’s no reason why you won’t ace the phone interview.

What to expect in a phone interview?

You probably know what you need to do to prepare for the interview, but do you know what to expect?

Your mind must be flooding with millions of questions and possible scenarios. Similar to you, interviewers too have certain expectations which you need to meet up. So, your biggest task is living up to these expectations and being invited for a face-to-face interview session.

Don’t always expect a group of interviewers

It is usually only one hiring manager who conducts phone screening sessions. So, don’t worry, you won’t be encountering an entire discussion panel for a few simple phone interview questions and answers.

Eliminate the weakest candidates.

Remember your interviewer has prepared a set of phone screening questions with the intention of eliminating the least competent applicants. They are not here to go easy on you or feel bad for you; they are here to put your skills through the ultimate test, to see if you, at all, deserve this job position and how driven you are to win the coveted prize.

The interview style is never the same.

Every job position has a different set of requirements for the candidates. So, why would you expect the phone interview questions to always be the same? Every hiring manager will be asking a different set of questions which you will have to answer with a calm and clear mind.

Personal questions about your life.

A phone interview is much more conversational than you imagine. Although professionalism is necessary, you should also exercise the flexibility to engage in lively conversations instead of delivering blunt answers. In such cases, an interviewer may ask questions in the line of your preferences, hobbies, special skills and reasons to relocate, etc.

How available are you?

At times, candidates are unable to be present at the office due to a multitude of reasons. This often creates a series of problems for the company which expects its employee’s attendance within premises. Hence, some of the most common questions during phone screening are in the lines of “Will you be able to attend office every day?” or “Will you be attending office fulltime?”

Salary expectations

What is the greatest motivation in your professional life?

To do what makes you happy? To be able to enjoy work every single day? Or, to maintain healthy work-life balance?

Well, all these answers are absolutely true, but these are not the ultimate reasons.

It is, of course, the salary credited to your account. Although job satisfaction, interest in work, and a functional working environment are necessary, you cannot devote your entire focus if you’re unhappy with your salary.

However, interviewers always have a pre-set limit of the amount of salary they are willing to pay candidates applying for a particular job role. Be aware of that and try to not go overboard. You will need to mention your salary expectations as per your knowledge, skills, experience and job role requirements.

Expect odd questions

At times, your interviewer may wish to test your limits. To do so, they may choose to ask you certain phone screening questions that might seem a tad bit weird. “Do you live alone? If not, how many members are there in your family?” or “What do you do when you’re not working?” These questions may seem odd, but your unique way of answering them is how you seal your impression with panache.


How to face the unexpected?

  • Take a breather
  • Organize your thoughts
  • Analyze the situation (and not just at face value)
  • Don’t be puzzled and answer/act confidently
  • Don’t be afraid of wrong answers

Most common telephone interview questions and answers

  1. How would you describe yourself?

“I am a motivated professional who can be relied upon to set goals higher than the company’s expectations. I possess the requisite knowledge and expertise in my field of work and strive for excellence in any job role assigned to me. Along with possessing great work ethics, punctuality, communication skills, and the zeal to perform, I also ensure to maintain a proper work-life balance. My goal is to ensure the development of my organization while being a positive role model for my team.”

  1. Why are you looking for a change?

“I am looking forward to developing my skills in a related yet different job role than my previous experience. Being in an IT firm has taught me abundance about management and organization, and I wish to further develop my skillset by challenging myself with a different job position. I believe I have the qualifications to serve justice to such a prestigious position at your firm.”

  1. How did you hear about this position?

“I have been searching for job positions suitable for my abilities. Thankfully, I stumbled upon this job opening at your firm on a portal. It is definitely up my alley and close to what I’m looking for, if not exactly.”

  1. What do you know about our company?

“I love the modern work ethics that your company follows, which offers employees the room for creativity. Your intent to use innovation to push preconceived limitations is what I find interesting and wish to contribute to. I was also impressed by the recent technological upgrades in one application developed by your company and wish to be part of such projects soon.”

  1. Why do you want this job? / Why do you want to work here?

“With my knowledge, expertise, and skills, I wish to dedicate myself to work for a company that will contribute to my growth and development as well. I feel that the job position available at your organization requires an individual who is willing to put organizational development at the top of the priority list before anything else. The work ethics, innovation, managerial system, and technologies adopted by your company are what make this job position the idle opportunity that will help in the development of my career as well.”

  1. Describe your current job responsibilities

“Currently, I am working as a project lead for an application launch at XYZ Developer Ltd. I was trusted with this position because of my skills, team leading abilities, expertise in the field of software development, and extensive knowledge in deep learning. While I did bring along my innovation and creativity to this job role, I also gained knowledge in areas that I never believed required my attention.”

  1. What is your management style?

While I feel that I can work with almost any personality or management style existing, the one that I am most comfortable with would be the kind that fuels creativity. Over-analyzing or wasting time isn’t my forte; so, I wish to work with an organization that places growth as the priority and allows employees the freedom to use their innovative thinking to help in the development of the company.”

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“I am enthusiastic about having a shot at this amazing position in your company. I would like to continue to grow and develop myself as a person and a professional. With every achievement, I will be setting my goals even higher to challenge my expertise and capabilities further. In the next five years, I see myself as an irreplaceable asset to your company.”

  1. What motivates you?

“My greatest motivation is the goals that push me to work harder and develop my skills to achieve nothing short of the best. I always set the bar high so that attaining these pre-set goals seem more like an achievement than a mere task.”

  1. Tell me what you know about the role.

“I am applying for the position of a software engineering project manager, who will be in charge of leading a team of expert engineers towards developing a network embedded control system.”

  1. What are you passionate about?

“One of the aspects that I find most intriguing is learning something new every day. Software engineering is a field where my passion lies, and I persevere in developing myself further in this sector.”

  1. What are your salary expectations?

“Before I present you with numbers, I would like to know about the expectations I should have related to my job role. It would be preferable if you can provide me with an evaluation regarding the salary range that I can look forward to for this job. This will offer me a clearer idea about the position and its effect on my career path. I would be able to state my salary expectations accordingly.”

Test or scenario-based questions

  1. Are you willing to relocate for this job?”

“I am open to the idea of relocation as I find this job role ideally fitting for the development of my career. I feel that I can further challenge my abilities to continue to develop my expertise with this job position.”

  1. What interests you about this job?”

“One of the most interesting aspects of this job is the challenges that I will need to overcome. They will help me further develop myself and my career while also ensuring the growth of the company.”

  1. When can you start?

“I am looking forward to starting integrating myself into your team as soon as possible. However, I do have certain previous commitments which I will need to fulfill before joining full time. My ideal date to start would be two weeks from the potential offer.”  

Do you have any questions?

The interviewers will ask their set of questions, but that doesn’t mean your queries won’t be welcome or entertained. You have the freedom to know more about the company you are applying to, the job position you are applying for, and the associated expectations.

Questions to ask in a phone interview for the employer to answer

With these questions to ask in a phone interview, you can clear any doubt that you might have about the organization.

  • What are the responsibilities that this job entails?
  • What challenges do you think I will encounter?
  • How is your company going to evaluate my performance?
  • What other departments will I be working with?
  • What is it that you think I require to be able to fulfill my job role with ease?

Popular phone interview questions at leading companies

Listed below are some common phone screening questions asked by global icons. You will see that these questions are a great blend to analyze your technical and non-technical skills.

Google phone interview questions

  • Manhole covers are round; would it be okay if they were square or rectangle instead?
  • Explain DEADBEEF

Amazon phone interview questions

  • Talk about one of the most difficult customers that you had to deal with and how you handled them.
  • Suppose you were working on a project and were almost done until you had to pivot due to certain changes. What would you do?

Apple phone interview questions

  • Talk about any particular thing that you have done that makes you proud.
  • Have you ever failed? If so, what did it teach you?

Netflix phone questions

  • Did you ever face any disagreement with your manager?
  • What was one of the biggest challenges that you faced while working?

Phone interview tips to help you make the cut

Now that you know the possible phone screening questions that you might encounter in your interview, you might think you are all set. Well, you are, but a few more tips will help you further.

  • Be serious

It is an interview, so being laid back and answering without discretion isn’t expected from you. Be calm, confident, and mature with your answers, as cracking this level will invite you to a possible face-to-face interview round.

  • Play your skill and strength cards

Try listing down your skills and expertise pointers on a notepad and mention these in your answers to help the interviewers be aware of your expanse of knowledge.

  • Research the company properly

You cannot just blindly attend an interview. As simple as that.

Research the job position and the company as much as possible to have a thorough idea of what you want from them and what they want from you.

  • Keep your job applications organized

Haphazardness has never earned anyone success; so, try keeping track of each of your job applications. Note the companies you are applying to and the job position there to be aware of the type of questions you may come across.

  • Listen and deliver

Every question holds a certain meaning, which you will need to comprehend before you come up with an answer. So, carefully listen and understand what your interviewer asks before you state your opinion.

  • Take your time

There is no rush! Calm your nerves and answer the questions.

Remember, there is the need for speed but in a Ferrari, not in a technical interview deciding your future.

  • Be unique with your answers

The same old answer with redundant adjectives will not help you to make the cut. Interviewers want something unique, and it is your job to ensure that you live up to their expectations.

  • Keep your cool

Note that this singular interview doesn’t define you. With a composed demeanor, 30 minutes is enough time to come up with a proper and compact answer for every question the interviewer asks. Your goal is to make your answers unique, creative, and a complete odd-ball.

Warning signals to watch out for in phone interviews

The interviewer isn’t the only person with the power to eliminate; you can also choose to walk out on the job application upon noticing any abnormality. Watch out for those red flags that might prove to be disadvantageous for you if you apply for job positions in such companies.

  • Try avoiding companies that rush their interviews and try to hire you as soon as possible.
  • Avoid job positions where the interviewers talk about an intense working environment.
  • Any interviewer who states of a workplace culture as “We are a family” probably means they have a dysfunctional working environment. Strange, but quite often true.
  • If they don’t have a proper answer to your question regarding the job position, avoid completely.
  • In case the tonality of the interviewer is offensive, it would be smart to not apply for this position.

Send a “Thank You” email after phone interview

Once your interview is over, it is expected of you to deliver a proper “thank you” email to the company. Mention the date and time of the interview call and mention your appreciation about the opportunity to discuss details related to the job position.

Questions in a possible follow-up technical round

Phone interviews may not always be conversational as the interviewer may ask certain technical interview questions, like:

  • What is your programming language?
  • How do you administer error handling?
  • Explain the software development cycle
  • Talk a little about responsive design

If you wish to master such questions, you can opt for technical interview preparation courses. With that, acing phone interviews will be a piece of cake for you.

At the end of the day, victory is relative. Why? While romping to triumph might be a victory for some, the journey itself might be the success story for some.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy looking for it.”

So, keep grinding, hustle and create an impression that prompts the hiring manager to call you back

Get ahead of your technical interview prep! Sign up for our webinar today!


Dipen Dadhaniya

Engineering Manager at Interview Kickstart

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