I am expecting a phone interview for co-op from a company.

I will be interviewed by a Software Developer for the company, not someone from HR.

I've never had a phone interview ever. This might be vague, but I would be glad if someone could guide me through the kind of questions I might be asked!


I've worked as a Web Developer for the past 16 years and have had more than a few phone interviews. Here would be my expectation:

  1. Technical questions - If the position is for say a C# Software Developer, you may be asked questions like the difference between a struct and a class? What is the difference between an abstract class and an interface? What Great .NET Developers Ought To Know (More .NET Interview Questions) has more examples of questions though they may be a bit advanced to some extent. Part of this is about knowing some technical stuff and part is about handling if you don't know, will you guess? Will you explain how you would find the answer? Would you just say, "I don't know. Sorry, dude," that may leave a bad taste in the interviewer's mouth as it isn't showing any kind of work to find the answer.

  2. Background - What is the biggest project you've done? What is the biggest failure you've had? What is your greatest achievement? Questions where the idea is to get a picture of you over the phone to determine who is worth having an in-person interview.

  3. General problem solving - This is where you may be asked what would be the approach you'd take in building a sample web site, solving a riddle or writing a simple method for a relatively trivial task like reversing a string. This would be where you'd have to tell what you are doing rather than have a whiteboard in front of you though the key here is what are you communicating and how thorough is your thinking/what assumptions do you make about things. Alternatively, you may get a coding assignment after the phone interview is done to submit some code.

Think of this is as where there may be 5-10 people getting screened over the phone to determine who are the 1-4 people to get that in-person interview where things may get a bit more intense. There may be technical questions about platforms, processes, technologies, and so forth just to see what you know and where you are.

  • Thank you JB! Your answer was very insightful! I'll prepare accordingly! – coderMint Jun 7 '14 at 3:21

As a developer giving interviews over the phone I really do not care if you know the difference between a struct and a class - you could have that printed out in front of you or have a laptop open to find the answer.

I am more interested in how you work, what things you have developed (tell me what you did and why you are proud of it), show me that you are keen to do development. Then I can target my questions more to your experience. If you developed a front end then I'll ask you about JQuery for example.

If you don't know the answer then be honest and say so. If the interviewer marks you down and decides not to hire you because you don't know which HTML tags have been deprecated or the difference between boxing and unboxing then you really don't want to work for that person.


Phone interviews from other developers is by far the easiest way to get a job as a developer. In my experience it's like a shortcut for the highly skilled.

You will probably be asked a lot of technical questions, so there's nothing you can do here but answer to the best of your ability and let your years of experience and expertise shine!


  • If you do know the answer to a question, answer clearly, confidently and concisely. That means, answer the question to the best of your knowledge, then stop talking! It can feel tempting to keep talking without visual cues from your interviewer, but long, rambling answers can detract from your credibility.

  • If you don't know the answer, state clearly that you don't know. This should be kept to one short sentence (no one likes long-winded excuses.) This isn't the end of the world, though, since sometimes developers will ask you about skills which are nice-to-haves, but not as important as the core skills of the job, which you might have a lot of.


Here are some generalities:

  1. They're not good at interviewing. There will be very little chit-chat or words of encouragement. If you feel uncomfortable, quickly tell yourself that you're doing fine. You'll get no indication of how well they think you're doing. They'll ask questions and hopefully write down your answers to possibly score later.
  2. Their idea of what things are important will vary. You may feel like you're playing Programmer Trivia.
  3. You're not going to get to write code over the phone. Ask if there will be another interview where you get to write code. If not, ask why not just to spread the word that programmers programming during an interview really makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
  4. Make sure you ask questions about the way things are done. Do programmers have any say in projects, tools, estimates, hiring, etc.

Hopefully the programmer can give you an idea of what it is really like to work there. Other than that, few have anything in common that I've been through.

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