As the new normal requires us to work from home and keep our distance, the way that businesses recruit and interview their candidates is changing. More and more companies are moving their recruitment process online, which includes digital interviewing and phone interviews. While these are not new tools, they have suddenly taken the recruitment process by storm, allowing businesses to continue with their high level of recruitment without missing out on potential candidates.

A phone interview is most commonly used as a first stage of interviewing, allowing you to get to know the candidate with some quick-fire questions. For this reason, it is extremely important to research questions to ask in a phone interview to guarantee success and minimise wasting your time. To lend you a helping hand, we have come up with a few ways that you can get to know your candidate by asking all the right questions.

Questions To Ask In A Phone Interview To Successfully Find Candidates

As recruitment specialists in Leeds and the surrounding areas, Focus Group has developed recruitment processes second to none, including digital interviewing, pre-employment screening and vetting. These processes allow clients to find candidates that suit not only the role but also their business environment and values. Rather than interviewing a large number of people, a recruitment plan allows clients to refine their candidates, interviewing a handful that our specialists and the client believes are suited to the role.

Part of the digital interviewing process often requires a phone interview, which allows the client the pick candidates to come in for a face to face interview. These calls will only last around 5 minutes, and can give you an insight into the individual, in particular their personality and skillset. To help you identify the importance of a phone interview and the types of questions you should be asking, we have comprised a helpful guide for interviewing candidates over the phone:

man interviewing

Why Is A Phone Interview Important?

A phone interview can save you not only time but also money, by minimising the number of unsuccessful candidates coming in for a face to face interview. Not only this, but as the world tries to keep social distancing in mind, meeting several individuals could be putting you or your employees at risk. For this reason, a phone interview allows you to choose a selection of candidates while maintaining a safe distance without compromising on the quality of recruitment.

It is important to keep in mind that your candidate will also be expecting the chance to ask one or two questions during the interview. The reason for this is because they may have applied to multiple vacancies, which means they could also be reducing their list of potential employers to minimise wasted time. For this reason, it is important to get a good balance between interviewing and having an informal conversation. To do this, try to avoid asking questions that may put the candidate on the spot, such as “what was the best performing project you have worked on”. Instead, asking questions that are easy to answer yet provide you with valuable information, such as “what are you responsible for in your current role”, will allow the candidate to display their strengths and skillset without having to prepare too much beforehand.

woman on phone interview

The 8 Best Phone Interview Questions

The most important questions to ask are those that will help to identify the candidate’s qualifications, experience and skills. While this is something that is presented on an applicant’s CV, you are able to gather a more in-depth understanding by finding out what the applicant is currently working on and how successful their projects have been. Some examples of phone interview questions include:

“What are the key responsibilities in your current role?”

By asking the candidate to list examples of their everyday responsibilities, you can gather a better understanding as to whether the candidate is able to accommodate your business and successfully complete the responsibilities of the role. While qualifications are always handy and in some roles necessary, it is the experience that the candidate has that will ultimately determine whether they are suited for the role and capable of completing the responsibilities.

“What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?”

Everyone will have some form of challenge in their career, whether it’s on a project or with a client, but it is how they overcome these challenges and how they aim to prevent them in the future or what they would do if the scenario were to arise again. The key here is to understand how they deal these challenges, as it will give you a good indication into their working style and ability to remain calm under pressure.

Through this question, you are also able to find red flags that could be a cause for concern. The two main red flags are; having never faced a challenge in their career or at least not being able to acknowledge one, and speaking negatively about past employers. While it is almost impossible to go through your career without coming across one individual that you do not particularly work well with, it is important not to talk about it in an interview, and those that do, may be a sign of potential issues that could arise once they join the business. You want to try and aim to find candidates that will bring positivity into your workplace, so while they may talk about struggles with their current or past employer, turning it into a positive is a good sign. For example, the candidate may tell you about how it has taught them a valuable lesson and how they have learnt from the situation.

woman interviewing

“What are you hoping to achieve by joining our company?”

Everyone has aspirations, and some candidates may simply be joining your company for the experience. If you are well known for providing good employee care and working environments, then candidates are likely to apply merely for that reason alone. Regardless of the reason they apply, a candidate should always tell you how they think the business will help them develop, but also how they will be able to develop the business. This is why it is important to state on your job description the career and project opportunities that the successful applicant will have. You can find out more about what should be on a job description by taking a look at Wright State University’s guide.

“What is your current working environment like?”

Asking a candidate about their working environment can give you a better understanding as to how the individual works. For example, if you are a fast pace business, then you will be looking for someone that works under strict and tight deadlines while remaining calm. Additionally to this, you may be looking for someone that can bring something new to the team. For this reason, it is important to first think about what you want to the candidate to bring to your business, as it can help you to distinguish what type of person you are looking for. Those that have worked in a different environment can also be beneficial to your business, particularly when trying to change or better your current environment and team morale.

“What challenges are you looking for?”

When interviewing candidates, you want them to present passion, drive and motivation. Those that are looking for a challenge are more likely to bring an energetic element to the team, and tend to be more focused on helping your business succeed. These challenges can vary from professional to personal, and both are important for growth. For example, a candidate may claim that they lack self-confidence and that they believe that exposure to multiple clients and being part of a larger team will help them to grow as a person. On the other hand, someone may be looking for a challenging project that will put their skills to the test. This is why it is important to let the candidate know the common roles and responsibilities they will be undertaking, as they may be deciding between two potential jobs. This is just one of the many reasons why the candidate experience is just as important as your recruitment process. you can find out more about how to implement a successful talent retainment on our previous article about talent acquisition management.

talking to candidate on phone

“What is your management style?”

For those that are recruiting for management roles, understanding the candidate’s management style will help you to gauge not only whether they suit you working environment, but also whether they are able to successfully manage a team while providing a caring hand to your employees. To identify whether a candidate will be suited to a management role, take a look at Management Advisory Service, who have put together an article on what makes a good manager.

As one of the leading recruitment companies in London and the surrounding areas, the team at Focus Group has extensive knowledge and experience in providing clients with a straightforward and thorough recruitment process to help find candidates for management roles. If you are looking to improve your recruitment processes, then please feel free to contact the team for more information about our recruitment consultants in Bristol and the surrounding areas.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?’

One of the most common reasons people leave their job to join another company is for better career opportunities. For this reason, it is likely that a candidate will have a career planned out for the next five years or so. Understanding the candidate’s aspirations can help you to discover their motivation to succeed, which will ultimately support your business in meeting goals and reaching targets. Furthermore, never be deterred from someone that wants to join your company for experience and then move on to other things, as this shows that the candidate is motivated, and they may change their mind once working for your company.

“Do you have any questions?”

By asking the candidate if they have any questions, it allows them to gather information about you and your business along with what to expect. However, there are a few questions that you should keep an eye out for, as it could show you red flags from the get-go. Some of these questions include:

  • What does your company do?
  • Who is your competition?
  • What is the pay and what are the benefits?
  • How much holiday do I get?
  • How soon do you usually promote employees?

Most of the questions above should be answered either in the job description or through some research, and if the candidate is unable to answer them, then it could be a sign of laziness or lack of organisation. On the other hand, good candidates may ask the following:

  • What is the culture like within the team?
  • What do you like most about this company?
  • Can you give me examples of past projects?
  • How big is the team?
  • What opportunities are there to grow within your business?

calling candidate

Preparing For A Successful Phone Interview

Much like you would prepare if you were the candidate, the employer should always prepare questions before calling a candidate for interviews, whether that be over the phone or face to face. By preparing, you are able to distinguish what you are looking for in the candidate and the types of answers you will be expecting. You should also make notes on each candidate after interviews, as it will help you to refine your options and find the best candidate available.

If you are looking to improve your recruitment process or would like to spend less time interviewing ill-fitted applicants, then why not seek the help of a specialist recruitment consultant in Milton Keynes or the surrounding areas? Focus Group has a range of consultants that specialist in the sales, IT, engineering and finance industry, helping clients with their recruitment through the use of specialist tools and processes.