While one side of your job search consists of submitting resumes and applications, the other portion involves waiting with anticipation for a call from a hiring manager. Though it may be tempting to pick up the phone the second you see an unfamiliar phone number appear on the screen, it may be a better idea to let the call go to voicemail. Why? First impressions are everything, so the last thing you want to happen is for the hiring manager or recruiter to catch you off guard and unprepared to discuss the opportunity. Therefore, to come across as the most professional candidate you can be, here are some situations where we advise you to let the phone call go to voicemail:
The early wakeup call
Whether you are an enthusiastic job seeker or a professional who is just testing out the waters of the job market, how you respond to your first phone call can have a major impact on how you are perceived moving forward. For example, while there’s nothing wrong with staying up late or sleeping in, what do you do if you receive a phone call for a potential job opportunity when you’re just waking up? Do you pick up the call and risk sounding as if you just rolled over, or do you let it go to voicemail? To avoid being perceived as “reactive” in your job search tactics, we suggest giving yourself a few minutes to get your act together, prepare yourself with any materials, and if possible, return the call within 30 minutes.
You’re unprepared for an impromptu phone interview
While in some scenarios, the hiring manager or the recruiter will email you to schedule and confirm a time for an interview, in other scenarios, they may give you a call to decide if they really want to bring you in for an in-person interview. As a result, you should be aware that any opportunity you get to speak with an employer is a direct reflection of your professionalism. If you are confident in your ability to think on your feet and know what company is calling, by all means, pick up the phone! But, if impromptu phone interviews are not your strength, let the call go to voicemail, get up to speed on the company and interviewer, and return the call as soon as possible.
You’re in an unprofessional setting
A best practice for phone interviews is to make sure you’re in an environment free of distractions (e.g. car horns, room echoes, other people, etc.), so it’s important to be smart about where you pick up an incoming call. For example, if you pick up the phone in an area where there is a lot of commotion, you risk sounding distracted, unfocused, and unclear. As a result, avoid speaking with a company until you are in a quiet environment that is free of distractions. If you know you will not be in an ideal location for a while, you can send the employer an email letting them know your earliest availability. This will let your potential employer know that you are interested in the opportunity and respectful of their time.
You’re not sure who is calling
On your quest to land a new job, you may find yourself applying to dozens of jobs on any given day. As a result, if you don’t have your organized spreadsheet in front of you, it can become easy to forget where you applied and mix up different positions with different companies. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is pick up the phone and not have any recollection of applying to that job. Avoid this embarrassing job search mistake by letting the phone go to voicemail so that you can take some notes on the organization and the role. Call back when you feel you have the ability to discuss the opportunity in detail.