I recently contacted a candidate about a position as a follow-up to an online application. The call went like this (names changed to protect the guilty):

Alex: Hello. (monotone)

Me: Hi! May I speak with Alex?

Alex. Yeah.

Me: Is this Alex?

Alex: Yeah.

Me: This is Cynde with XYZ Staffing. You had applied online for the ABC position. I was calling to see if we could schedule some time to talk about that role!

Alex: Ok.

Me: I have time available at….. (several options provided)

Alex: Ok.

Me: Would any of those work for you?

Alex: I can do DD/MM.

Me: Great! What is the best number for me to call at that time to reach you?

Alex: This one. (did not provide it, and left me to look up which number I had dialed)

Me: Ok – I have you scheduled. I will chat with you then!

Alex:  Ok.

Fast forward to the telephone interview.  I dialed the number at the scheduled time.

Alex: Hello. (monotone, again)

Me: Hi, it’s Cynde with XYZ Staffing. Is this Alex?

Alex: Yeah.

Me: Is this still a good time for us to talk about the ABC role?

Alex: Yeah. (still monotone)

Me: Great! So I wanted to start with an overview of the role.

Alex: Ok.

The rest of the phone interview was no better. There was an overall lack of enthusiasm, lackadaisical and incomplete responses, and overall failure to engage. Needless to say, I did not give this Alex a glowing review or recommendation.

I’m sure no one in our talent community is anything like Alex. You care about your career! But there is an opportunity to learn from Alex’s mistakes.

We’re in a day and age where there are robocalls and phone scams, so answering calls from unknown numbers carries some risk. When you are applying for positions, the key is to be reachable.

If you do choose to answer calls, do so in a manner that is putting your best foot forward by always assuming it might be a recruiter or hiring manager. Be sure you are where you can quickly step aside if needed, to get to a quiet place and speak freely. Answer in a friendly and inviting tone that would be fitting for a professional setting, using your name so the person calling knows it is you. A simple “This is Cynde” in a professional tone works great.

If you can’t, then it’s perfectly fine – preferred even – to let a call go to voice mail as long as your greeting is business appropriate, then simply return the call within a reasonable timeframe. I would much rather get someone’s voice mail, leave a message and let them call me back than to try to have a call over excessive background noise. I also do not want to put someone in harm’s way if they are driving!  Returning the call gives you an opportunity to have time to speak openly. If you get that recruiter’s voice mail, leave a message. If you hang up and call back again 15 minutes later, hang up and try again another 15 minutes later, they will know. Caller ID, anyone? It makes a statement about your style and level of professionalism (and it is not a positive statement).

When you do speak with a recruiter, don’t be Alex. Put your best foot forward, be prepared, and show your excitement. Smile when you speak – it comes across in your voice. And remember, you’ve got this and let your confidence shine through!

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