Impromptu phone interviews and job-related calls happen when you least expect them. If you’re in the middle of a job search and in the habit of answering calls from numbers that you don’t recognize—be prepared to graciously let callers know if it’s not a good time to talk. Why is this important? Read on to find out:
First impressions are sealed in seconds and it’s critical that you present yourself in an organized and collected manner. Many job seekers apply to large numbers of positions and it can be challenging to remember which job was with which company. The worst thing you can say during an unexpected call about your resume is, “What do you do again?” Or, “Remind me what job this is for…”
One of the most common first questions is, “What motivated you to apply?” If you can’t give a specific and customized answer without hesitating and without asking for help jogging your memory about the position—don’t wing it. Many people think that a safe response is, “I thought the job description was a good match for my skill set,” but employers can see though this and they know this generic response means you aren’t prepared and you’re trying to cover it up.
Before you come across as unprepared, consider this option: graciously let the caller know that you’re not in a great place to talk and ask if you can give them a call back in 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or at a specific time. Try not to let too much time lapse because demonstrating a sense of urgency is important too. Setting a specific time to call them back moves the process along quicker and lets you avoid cumbersome games of phone tag with the hiring manager. Callers will identify themselves on the phone, so this will give you the chance to get to a quiet place, and refresh on the job description and the company. Do not feel pressured to begin a job-related conversation or impromptu phone interview at a bad time! It’s hard to bounce back from this.
Your mood, frame of mind, and surroundings will affect your performance. If you receive a call and you’re not in a good place (mentally or physically), simply say, “I’m so glad you called! Will you be available for the next few minutes? I’m not in a place where I can talk freely right now, and I want to make sure I can focus on our conversation.” Then, take time to get to a better place and quickly prepare. You’ll be glad you did.
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