You only get to make a first impression once. When it comes to your career, maximizing those opportunities is paramount. In most instances it is not enough to be good at what you do if you are trying to get a new job, you must also do well in your interactions. Once you have found a job that you are interested and you have applied, the next step is to wait for the communication to have your interview set up. Now depending on the recruiter this communication will either come in an email or it will come as a phone call. Now with an email it is pretty straight forward. It is easy to craft a simple, straight to the point email expressing when you are able to have a conversation. As long as you aren’t overly difficult or go out of the way to mess up your chances, this will most likely happen without incident. Now a phone call can be much more difficult to navigate. While the purpose of this call is to set up a time for the two of you to talk, the recruiter, who talks to candidates all day everyday typically takes a lot more away from a call like. Just in that in that first call alone recruiters are able to gauge communication skills, enthusiasm about the opportunity and preparedness. So while it seems like a relatively inconsequential conversation, in a competitive market, it is critical to be maximizing every bit of communication you are afforded. As someone who has had thousands of these of calls I put together a list of common things I have run into that you should avoid doing when you are contacted by a recruiter.
Coming off as disinterested
Every recruiter who has ever done this job for any significant amount of time has had someone turn down as offer. In this line of work it is one of the worst things that can happen to a recruiter. Sometimes we work on a role for a long time, put a lot of focus into, become well versed on the ins and outs, interview many candidates, search far and wide to find what we think is the perfect candidate just to have an offer extended and have it turned down. We go from the excitement of filling the role to feeling the overwhelming despair of starting over. For this very reason we are always on the lookout for the signs that a person might ultimately make the decision to not accept the role if its offered to them. Whether or not you even want to fine tune this sixth sense it just happens to you. Through a trial and error process you start to notice things about candidates who will back out, accept the role, do well or become a horror story. One of the big flashing red warning signs is if you have a candidate sound as if he or she is setting up a dentist appointment. When you are offered a chance to interview for a job you want, you would think there would be some excitement associated with that. So if you end up talking to a recruiter about setting up an interview and you sound as if is more a chore than an opportunity, you are certainly getting off on the wrong foot. You don’t need to be bubbly and over the top, but show some enthusiasm and thank the recruiter for calling you.
Asking which company and which position it is
Now that might seem like weird advice. Some of you are probably thinking “But Ben, don’t I need to know what company and what position I am interviewing for?” The answer to that question is a resounding yes. You absolutely need to know what the role is but like most things in life there is a wrong and a right way to go about it. Most recruiters who call you will say who they are with or representing and what the position is, so it really shouldn’t be an issue. Also, it’s probably best as a job seeker to not be applying to so many places that when one of them calls you, you have absolutely no idea what it’s for. However if they don’t make mention of that information and you aren’t sure which company and role it is, make sure you ask in a polite way. Phrasing like “Excuse me, what was the company name and the position title?” is an acceptable way to ask. The wrong way to ask is to say something like, “Wait, which role is this? And which company, I have been sending out a lot of applications.” While that might be true, no recruiter wants to hear that. When I hear that several thoughts pop into my mind. Well this person is interviewing everywhere, I don’t want to get into a bidding war if we get to the offer stage. Wow this person seems unprepared to field this call, are they really interested? Why is this person interviewing at so many places? Is something going on in their current role that necessitates such an aggressive approach to finding a new job? None of these questions are good questions. It’s not like a recruiter is going to think, “wow this person is so in demand that they aren’t able to remember the role!” So make sure you position yourself so that you come off as polite and deliberate.
Pushing the date back too far
One of the biggest mistake I see if someone pushing the date of the interview back too far. There are times people ask to speak with me a week later or even two or three. From personal experience I can tell you that is too late. If you want to do a first round phone interview more than a week after the recruiter calls you to schedule, there is a good chance you might be wasting your time. To explain why they me tell you about the interview process real quick. Once a position is approved and sent to a recruiter, they schedule a call with the hiring manager to discuss what they are looking for. Once that call occurs the position is posted. If we assume a handful of qualified applicants apply within the first ten days or so, the recruiter is going to pick the top three, four or five candidates and call them to interview them. The recruiter will batch schedule them so that they all occur in a relatively short period of time so that they can send over the slate of candidates to the hiring manager so they can decide who they want to move forward with. If the recruiter suggests a day or perhaps a couple of days, that is the period of time the recruiter is planning on talking to every single person they intend on talking to for the role. So, if you push back a week or two past the suggested time, the recruiter is not going to wait for your interview to be completed to send over the others. The hiring manager will see your information way later if at all. In fact the recruiter might go back and call another candidate they didn’t plan on speaking with just to get another in that group they submit over to the hiring manager. If you push your interview back a week and a half for example, the recruiter might have interviewed three candidates, made a recommendation for action and the hiring manager might have already conducted phone interviews. In fact the might have made further decisions about who they would like to schedule for onsite interviews. If that happens, your only hope is that the onsite interview goes poorly and they want to restart the search. Even if your phone interview goes great with the recruiter, if the recruiter has other people in process they will be unlikely to submit you because starting your interview process would only distract from what might be the conclusion of a successful search. So while we are all busy, sometimes it all comes down to timing. So my advice is find a way. Don’t push the interview back too far or you might just be pushing yourself right out of the process.
So there you have it. Those are my 3 things to avoid doing when a recruiter calls you. If you can avoid these missteps you will be getting off to the right start and you will position yourself to have success in the upcoming interviews. If you want to find out how to possibly surpass or guarantee success on the phone screen check out one of my more popular posts using the following link The Fastest Way to Almost Guarantee an Onsite Interview. If you have any questions or comments or perhaps think I am totally wrong, please feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!