When an employer contacts you to arrange a phone interview, how you respond determines his initial impression of you. If you get off on the wrong foot, it can be difficult to redeem yourself during the interview. Approach your reply with the same professionalism you’d use during a face-to-face meeting so the employer immediately sees your strengths.
Follow Up Promptly
If the employer sends you an email or leaves a voicemail message, reply by the end of the day if possible. If you can’t, wait no more than 24 hours to respond. Leaving the employer hanging suggests you don’t respect his time or don’t value the interview opportunity. In addition, employers often have dozens of strong candidates to consider. If they don’t hear back from you, they might move on without contacting you again, and you could lose your chance at the position. Also, the sooner you reply, the more time you’ll have to prepare for the meeting.
Finalize interview details and ensure that you and the employer find a time that works well for both of you. For example, if the employer wants to speak to you the next day and you have a meeting you can’t miss, tell him you can’t take off work that soon and suggest a day later in the week. Consult your schedule and ask the employer about the hiring timeline before you commit to anything. For instance, if interviews were only taking place during the next two days, you wouldn't be able to interview the following week.
Ask if the employer plans to call you or wants you to call him. If he leaves it up to you, arrange for him to make the call. This puts him in a position of control, but makes you the one that is sought after. Verify the date and time, especially if the employer is in another time zone. Also, ask who you should call in case of an emergency. If you can’t make the appointment, you can still preserve your reputation by letting the employer know as soon as possible.
The employer will expect you to be prepared when he calls for the interview, so use your reply to uncover the information you need to make a good impression. Ask the employer how long he expects the interview to take so you can set aside ample time and won’t be rushed. Also, inquire about any materials you should have on hand. For example, the employer might want to see and discuss samples of your work during the call. If you have an online portfolio, you’ll know to have the site pulled up on your computer.