Questions to ask in a phone interview and why they're useful

Updated 5 June 2023

In the job application process, a recruiter may initially invite you to take part in a phone interview if they believe you have the potential to be a suitable candidate. As with an in-person interview, the hiring manager may ask if you have any questions about the role or company. Planning your questions in advance can help you prepare to make the most of this opportunity to learn more about the organisation and position. In this article, we share examples of questions to ask in a phone interview and explain how the interviewer's answers may guide you.

Questions to ask in a phone interview

Considering the questions to ask in a phone interview allows you to prepare for the first stage of the recruitment process, which many organisations conduct remotely. Phone interviews usually take place quite early in the process and before the employer creates a shortlist of candidates. Knowing what to ask may impress the interviewer and help to make you more memorable. Here are 11 questions you may choose to ask a recruiter at the end of a phone interview:

1. How does a typical day look for someone working in this role?

Usually, job descriptions only outline the key duties of a role, so an interviewer could take this opportunity to provide you with details of the specific tasks you might perform in the role. Listening to what they say is included in a typical workday may help you visualise what it would be like to work at the organisation and determine whether you feel you can meet their expectations in terms of the day-to-day deliverables. Their answer to this question may also help you determine the key interpersonal skills and practical abilities you would use in the position.

Related: How to create and stick to a daily schedule: a handy guide

2. What qualities do you expect the perfect candidate for this role to have?

Knowing whether you possess the qualities that the employer envisions the ideal candidate to have can help you decide if the role is right for you. In addition to any practical skills, such as the ability to use role-specific software, it's beneficial to consider whether your personality makes you an appropriate fit for the existing team. For example, if the interviewer mentions that they're looking for someone who prioritises teamwork, but you know you perform better working independently, this might indicate that a different opportunity may better suit you.

Related: Transferable skills: definitions and examples

3. Where do you see the organisation in the next five to ten years?

If the job for which you're applying is a permanent position, asking this question demonstrates your willingness to offer the organisation long-term commitment. Based on the interviewer's answer, you may determine if the employer has the resources to offer you attractive growth opportunities. If they share that the company is planning to expand and enter new international markets, this could indicate the possibility of you taking on more responsibility or potentially moving into a leadership position in the future.

Related: Is a growing company right for me? (Factors to consider)

4. How does the employer measure success for this role?

Asking about how the employer measures success may help you understand how the employer is likely to evaluate your performance and accomplishments. When an interviewer is answering this question, pay attention to the types of measures an organisation uses. For example, if an employer requests that staff members submit self-evaluations, they may be more open to allowing employees to actively participate in choosing what development opportunities they wish to explore. This is typically a positive sign as it indicates that an employer may actively listen to comments and ideas from their employees to shape the organisation's culture and values.

Related: How to measure success at work: a step-by-step guide

5. What are the advancement opportunities within this role?

Just like asking about the organisation's goals, this question shows your willingness to stay with the employer long-term if you get the job. It demonstrates that you're interested in advancing within the organisation, which most employers consider valuable. Promoting employees who already know a lot about how specific departments operate is often a cost-effective and efficient solution. Examples of advancement opportunities that employers may offer include on-the-job training or employer-funded courses.

Related: 10 ways to promote growth at work (and why it's important)

6. How would you describe the team's dynamic?

Listening to how an interviewer describes the team's dynamic may give you an insight into the behavioural relationships between existing members. For example, you may learn about the way in which they communicate and cooperate on a day-to-day basis. In addition, you may wish to ask follow-up questions to learn what strategies the team uses to solve problems or make challenging decisions. Joining a team that shares similar principles to you may increase your chances of attaining job satisfaction and a career that meets your personal expectations.

Related: What are theories of group dynamics? (And how to use them)

7. What's your favourite aspect of working for this organisation?

In response to this question, the interviewer may share their opinions about the organisation and why they think it's a fun or rewarding place to work. Remember that the interviewer may be an employee with in-depth knowledge of the company, its different departments and the projects they're working on. When an interviewer answers this question with excitement and shares first-hand experiences, it's usually a good sign.

Related: How to answer the question: 'Why do you want to work here?'

8. What are the next steps in the interview process?

This is a technical question that could reveal details of the recruitment structure. Finding out what to expect gives you the chance to prepare more accurately and plan how to demonstrate specific skills or knowledge in the next stages of the process. For example, if you're interviewing for a software development position and the next interview is a practical assessment, then you may decide to focus on your coding skills and leave practising interview questions for a later date.

Related: The interview process: a complete guide to the key stages

9. Do you have any hesitations about my experience or skills?

Asking this question during a phone interview allows you to objectively assess your chances of advancing to the next round. When a phone call is the first stage of recruitment, usually all the data the recruiter has about you is from your CV, cover letter and the answers you've just given them. Their answer may reveal areas for improvement for you to consider. Even if you're unsuccessful and don't advance to the in-person interview stage, this is knowledge you can act on to improve your chances the next time.

Related: Areas for improvement to help with employee performance

10. How do you rate your competitors?

If you're actively looking for a job, it's reasonable to assume that you are submitting applications to several organisations operating within the same field. This question may form part of your industry research and can help you better understand the relationships between different organisations that offer similar products or services. Depending on the interviewer's answer, you may be able to determine the organisation's approach and attitude towards its competitors. This may be especially beneficial if you're looking for a job in a healthy and positive environment where employers encourage networking.

Related: How to do competitive analysis and what it involves

11. Why is this position available?

This is a tactical question that may uncover why the last person in the role left or why the employer made the decision to terminate that person's contract. If you discover that there has been a high turnover of people in the role, this might signify that the employer's expectations don't align with the description of the job. Conversely, if the previous person was working in the role for several years and simply progressed on to a different team, it's a sign that you may have the same opportunities in the future.

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