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Questions to Ask a Company HR Recruiter in a Phone Interview

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A telephone interview is typically the first stage of the interviewing process in which your application or resume has been culled from the stack as a potential candidate. If the human resources recruiter likes how you come across on the phone, you'll probably be invited to a second in-person interview. While the initial conversation is likely to involve you responding to questions about your background, education and work philosophy, you can express your interest in the position by posing questions yourself.

The Position

Theoretically, you'll be well-versed about the job you're applying for before you participate in a telephone interview. Delve deeper into the particulars of the role by asking what the key responsibilities are and how your performance will be evaluated.

Chain of Command

Ask about the internal hierarchy and how the position you’re applying for fits into the existing structure. Find out what position you’d report to, and if you’d be responsible for supervising others. Ask the recruiter what she likes about working with the company herself. This helps establish rapport.

Why the Job is Open

Ask why the previous person who held the job left, or if it's a new position, why it was created. Inquire about how the company decision-makers feel the role will be integral to the organization’s strategic plan. Also ask what the company views as valuable traits in staffers, then work those characteristics into your responses to other questions.

Company Philanthropy

Inquire about the company’s philanthropic efforts. This can help establish you as a community-minded professional who will be a good representative of the organization.

Additional Information

Ask if you can provide any additional information about yourself, or address any other questions. This establishes you as a confident applicant, and it allows you to end the phone interview on a positive note.

Timeline for Hiring

Inquire about when a hiring decision will be made. The response you get will let you know if you’re in the running for a second round of interviews, and when an offer will be extended. As with any interview, follow up with a written note of thanks for the recruiter’s time.

Questions to Avoid

Don’t ask about salary, benefits or vacation time during your phone interview. This is an initial screening interview, and jumping ahead can make you look more interested in the money than the job.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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