Questions you should ask a recruiter to successfully complete a telephone interview

On the eve of the start of the course “IT-Recruiter” prepared a translation of the material, which contains recommendations for preparing for the initial interview.

We also invite everyone to an open demo lesson “How to make an IT recruiter out of a person”. At the webinar, participants, together with an expert, will discuss how to upgrade a regular recruiter to IT and share useful resources for development:
– top informative, educational and entertaining blogs and podcasts about IT and IT recruiting;
– conferences, meetups, master classes and simply interesting events for IT recruiters;
– interesting books about IT and people in the industry;
– why and how an IT recruiter should read Habr.

Do you know what to focus on, or are you exhausting yourself with the preparation?

How do you feel when you have a phone interview on your nose: exhausted by retraining, or clearly know what to focus on?

I’ve helped a lot of my friends get through the phone interview stage and finally get into the final round of face-to-face interviews at tech companies, just by helping them figure out what to prepare for.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Your application has passed the resume selection stage (congratulations!). The recruiter sends you an email asking you to arrange your first phone interview.

You dive head first into preparation. It is not right!

I notice this behavior of my friends all the time. As soon as they receive an email from a recruiter asking them to schedule an interview, they immediately start a hectic activity:

I need to write down EVERY fact about the work I have done, and I need to REMEMBER all of this!

I need to learn JAVASCRIPT in ONE WEEK!

I need to BUY A NEW PHONE, to make my voice sound better!

What you need to do is relax a little and start asking questions.

Recruiters are your allies who can provide useful information.

The recruiting team will be happy to help you navigate the interview process. This means that you can (and should!) Ask them questions about the upcoming interview.

Find out what you need to prepare

  • Who will interview you by phone? Is it hr? Is this a colleague from the team you want to join?

  • What kind of interview will you have? Is this a behavioral interview? Is this a case interview?

  • What is the main purpose of this interview? Will it focus on your experience? Or will the focus be on your analytical skills?

  • What additional things should you prepare for? Should you focus on new products released by the company? Should you find out more about the company’s financial performance?

Knowing the answers to these questions will save you time, relieve anxiety and, most importantly, give you a better chance of getting through this phone interview.

You can ask the recruiter the following questions.

4 questions to ask a recruiter before a phone interview

1.Who will I communicate with?

If your recruiter hasn’t told you this yet, ask this question. You will find out the name of the interviewer and, most likely, his position. This will help you put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes.

If your interviewer is part of the sales team, the interview will take a slightly different angle than if you are being interviewed by someone on the analyst team. With this information in hand, consider what experience you want to highlight so that it resonates with your interviewer.

By name of the interviewer, you can search for him on LinkedIn to get acquainted with his experience and biography. Telephone interviews with someone you have never met and cannot see face to face can be difficult. Doing a little research to understand who the person is can help you reduce anxiety when talking on the phone with a stranger who is evaluating you.

2. What type of interview should I expect?

If your phone interview is going to be a general behavioral interview, you should prepare for situational questions such as, “Tell me about a time you had to influence a team member to get your idea forward.”

If it’s analytics or case interviews, you might be asked questions such as “how do you rate how many bookings Airbnb processes in one year?” or “how would you improve Snapchat’s monetization?”

If this is a product interview, you may be asked to list your favorite products, explain why and how you could improve them.

Knowing the type of interview will help you determine which area to focus on in preparation.

3. What exactly will this interview focus on?

This question is related to the previous question, but you can use it to specify for yourself how the interviewer will evaluate you. Each interview has a specific purpose. It could be anything, for example: do you have relevant experience? Do you have good intuition in your field?

Again, this question will help you narrow down the topics you need to prepare. Time is limited, do not waste time preparing for something that you will not be judged by.

4. Should I prepare any specifics?

This is a good general question. The recruiter can give you additional information or details that can be extremely helpful. They might say something like:

We are really looking for someone with strong analytical experience. It would be helpful if you had examples where you had to work with complex data to make a decision.


We want to know how well you work with the development team and how well you work on technical projects.

A recruiter can help you do your best, that’s part of his job!

Here’s a real life example. My friend Brandon used these questions to prepare for a phone interview at a well-known tech company. He went through a telephone interview and went to a face-to-face interview.


Brandon: Hi ###! It works for me! What type of interview should I expect? What exactly should I prepare? Thank you!

Recruiter: Hi ###! Expect this to be like talking to ###. Attention will be focused on past experience and, in this case, there may be questions of strategy and / or analysis. Let me know if you have any further questions, ###.

Please note – the recruiter suggested to Brandonwhat exactly should be prepared. All Brandon had to do was ask two questions in a short letter.

Don’t get overwhelmed when preparing for your interview. Concentrate

Make sure you are preparing for the right things. Don’t wear yourself out to prepare for every possible phone interview scenario. Figure out what the interview will focus on by literally asking, “What will the interview focus on?”

Just ask!

Learn more about the course “IT-Recruiter”

Watch the webinar “How to make an IT recruiter out of a person”.

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