4 Tips For Conducting Successful Phone Interviews

Conducting phone interviews for sales positions can be challenging as it is more difficult to determine the quality of the candidate over the phone since you can’t view the individual and their body movements or facial expressions. Here are four tips to getting the most out of phone interviews.


Use a video interviewing service

There are several video interviewing services out there, such as HireVue and Spark Hire, that can be used as a pre-interview resource. Setting up 3-6 interview questions and having an applicant complete this prior to conducting the phone interview will help you determine if someone could be a good fit right fit quickly. Sites like these allow you to:

  • Visually see the applicant (do they have facial piercings or tattoos that your company does not allow?)
  • See how they act under pressure
  • See if they have done any research about your company (using the right questions)

Let them do the talking

Hopefully they’ve conducted at least a little research about your company and/or the position prior to the interview. Let them talk; find out what they know. Letting them talk will give you some insight into:

  • Whether they’ve researched your company
  • If they know what it takes to fulfill the job duties of the position
  • What they believe their qualifications of the position are

Avoid the overused interview questions

Where do you want to be in 5 years and what are your weaknesses are two of the most overused interview questions. And I hate them. Instead, ask questions that allow the interviewee to really open up and explain their thoughts. Instead, ask questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time when you did not succeed. How did you handle this? (Great alternative to the weaknesses question)
  • How do you like to be managed? (This will help you determine if your managing style will fit with how they like to be managed)
  • How do you define success?

Listen carefully


When the applicant is answering your questions be sure to listen closely to their answers, how long it takes them to answer the questions, listen to see if they use curse words, and if they actually answer the question. All of these can be red flags, especially for sales positions.

As with any type of interview, avoid questions that are illegal to answer (i.e. about marriage, sex, religion, age, disability, etc.). I always recommend going with your gut. Which applicant had the best answers, who was quick to answer, and who had the most outgoing personality? These are generally the people who will do best in sales positions.

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