Do you know the most important question you should ask in phone interviews?  Hopefully, you already know that it’s important that you should ask questions in your telephone interview.  But you might not know that one question in particular can ensure a good interview or even turn the tide of a bad interview.  What’s the question?

The question is:  What does your ideal candidate look like?  What’s on their wish list of skills and qualifications of someone in this role?  If a person with those qualities walked through the door now, they’d be drooling and trying to hire them on the spot. 

Why should you ask about their ideal candidate?  Chances are…you’re not that person.  But chances also are…that person isn’t going to come walking through the door, either.  It’s an ideal.  So what’s the point of asking about it?  It’s because their answer tells you what they really care about in a candidate.  It’s like saying, “What would you really like to hear from me in this interview?  What can I say to you that will get me this job?”  That is POWERFUL information.

When should you ask this question?  Ask it fairly early in the interview, before you start to get too deep in talking about yourself. 

Does it have to be those exact words?  No.  Use whatever words are comfortable for you:  Tell me about your ideal candidate.  If you had a checklist for a perfect candidate, what would be on it?  What are the qualities of someone who would be perfect in this role?  This is a question that should feel like a natural part of your conversation, so ask it however it works for you. 

Do you really have to ask this?  Yes. Can’t you just go by what the job description says?  Nope.  It’s entirely possible that someone besides the person interviewing you wrote the description—so maybe it’s not entirely accurate.  It’s just too much of a gamble to take for this important conversation.

What do you do with this information?  You use it to help tailor your answers to their interview questions.  If they ask about your proudest accomplishment, you can choose one that speaks to their wish list.  You don’t want to talk about something that they won’t care about hearing.  If they ask why you think you’d be a good fit, then you can talk about the skills that match up with what they told you.  Every time they ask you a question, you say something that answers that wish list as much as you can.  Delivering these types of super-targeted answers help you CRUSH the interview.  It’s being strategic and smart in how you approach the entire process.  It will help push you along to getting the face-to-face interview.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee is a career coach and the CEO of Career Confidential, a website dedicated to helping job seekers get the jobs you want fast. Learn more on the Career Confidential website => 

Find more phone interview tips in our blog series, Phone Interviews: The 37 Most Essential and Extraordinary Tips That Will Get You To the Face-to-Face =>