Phone Calls: A Detailed Guide

By Mike Keating | Co-founder of

TLDR: Just follow this template and you’ll be fine.

The goal of a phone call is to build rapport with the candidate. You want to get to know them better and to get an idea of who you and your company are. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a bunch of questions to help your phone call…

To kick it off, keep it light and easy.

Something like: 

“How’s your day / week been?” 
“How’s it going?” 
“How are you?” 

Simple. Now before you get into it, just double check that it’s a good time for them to have a chat. You don’t want to catch them at a bad time (even if it was planned previously, things come up unexpectedly all the time) and you don’t want to have them feeling flustered or uncomfortable during the chat.

Something like: 

“Thanks for putting some time aside to chat with me. I just want to make sure I got you at a good time?”


“Really appreciate you taking the time aside to chat with me. Just wanted to double check that this is a good time for you?”

If they say no, arrange another time. If they say yes, great!

Next, let them know why you’re calling.

Something like:

“So, the reason why I wanted to talk to you was because I stumbled across your LinkedIn [or Github, Dribbble ect] and it really grabbed my attention. Looks like you’ve worked on some cool projects, plus your experiences really stood out. I just wanted to learn a bit more about you.”

Now that you’ve let them know why, it’s time to get to know who they are…

Again, start with light and easy questions. Remember, the focus is on building rapport and to learn about the candidate. Some technical questions are okay, but don’t invest too much time into learning about their technical ability. It’s a phone screening after all, not a tech interview.

Here are some examples of questions you could ask in regards to their work: 

“I saw your project developing that [project]. Can you tell me more about that experience?”

“How’d you approach the project? What key technologies did you use?”

Don’t be afraid to delve deeper if you find something in common (e.g using cloud tech, a framework) and create a conversation around that.

You could also ask them questions to find out who they want to be. Really try to paint a picture in your head of what kind of person they are.

Something like: 

“What would your ideal line of work be? Do you like greenfield projects?” 

“Where do you see your career going? Would you ever be interested in the {your companies line of work} space?

Don’t forget about the personal stuff either. Get to know them with questions like: 

“So, outside of work, what do you get up?” Any hobbies/interests? (This is great because you also get a gentle assessment of cultural fit)

“Whereabouts are you located?”

“Are you a [sports team you like] fan?” 

“Do you like beer? Have you been to [local brewery you like]?

Don’t be afraid to delve deeper if there’s a commonality. This is how you build relationships so if they say something that stands out to you, be genuine and go down that line of conversation.

Now, it’s time to tie it all up. 

If you haven’t told them about what your company does and what your role is, this is a good time to tell them a bit about that. Time to practice your elevator pitch!

“Our company does…”

“We’re doing exciting work with…”

“We’ve just finished up with a project and about to start a new exciting project…” 

Once you’ve told them a bit about you and your company and you’re feeling good about the candidate, your call to action is to try and book in a time for a coffee/beer with them. Again keep it light and natural. Try asking them something along the lines of: 

“Thanks again [name], it was awesome chatting and getting to know you a bit better. Sounds like you’re doing some awesome stuff in your space. Look, we’re going through a growth phase and I’m looking for people who can help us manage the project load.”

If they seem positive to that, then you can respond along the lines of: 

“If you’re interested in maybe learning a bit more, I’d be more than happy to shout you a coffee and share more details on it. I think you could be great for [the line of work] but I’m cautious of time so let’s book in a time for next week?”

From there, it’s up to you. Good luck and happy chatting! Next steps would be interviews. Not feeling too confident?

Luckily for you, we’ve got 4 easy tips to help you interview like a boss.