It may seem like a simple and glaringly obvious point but I promise you, a lot of future and recent graduates have not learned proper phone etiquette, which is hurting their chances of landing their dream job. Too many times I have called a potential candidate, excited about giving them good news about their application, only to be greeted with a disgruntled and angry “Yeah?”.

Automatically, I am put off. I would not want to support and vouch for an individual who sounds so unwelcoming and impolite over the phone, even before you begin the conversation. Employers notice this too and will sometimes judge the entirety of your call based on these first few seconds and the situation is only exacerbated when this tone is continued throughout the conversation.

To avoid missing out on some great opportunities, here are some top tips to help you leave a strong impression over the phone.


  • – Answer the phone politely. I’m not saying that you must answer every phone call as if you are talking to the Queen. Employers do not even expect to hear you answer with: full name speaking. However, answering the phone with a simple hello, in a positive tone can make the difference between your potential employer viewing you as someone they would want on their team or not. It also sets the mood for the entire call and builds their views on you as an individual. You are the one who has been handing out your phone number to potential employees hoping that they get in touch, so think about the first impression you would want them to have.


  • – Respond to questions or statements fully. Another unusual trait that I have found with candidates is a refusal to respond to questions in full sentences, or sometimes even coherently! The amount of times I have conducted an entire 5-minute phone conversation, only hearing the word yeah or mmhmm grunted down the line makes me believe you aren’t even interested in the opportunity I am trying my best to help you land. Don’t mumble your way through the call, speak clearly and slowly to come across as a professional.


  • – Be enthusiastic and thankful. This is a continuation from my previous tip. Recruiters don’t expect a parade every time we call you to put you forward for a role, or to let you know that you have passed another step in the process. However, it is important to come across as pleased with the opportunity and getting through the application steps. Employers will feel the same way and will reconsider your application if it doesn’t come across as if you actually want the role and are happy to be considered for their company. Employers are looking for candidates who are clearly enthusiastic about joining their team.


  • – Be engaged and ask questions. Show your potential employer, or anyone you are talking to on the phone, that you are listening and interested in what they are saying. Staying silent or simply answering questions bluntly does not leave a positive impression. Ask your own questions, clarify their points and make sure you haven’t stayed silent throughout the conversation. Simply acknowledging what they are saying will go a long way.


  • – Be relaxed and confident. This is a simple, yet very important point. Employers aren’t going to shout at you down the line if you are unsure of how to answer a question, or put you on the spot with unrealistically hard questions that even they would struggle to answer. Be confident & trust yourself! If you are not right for the role and it becomes apparent over the phone, it’s not the end of the world. You want a role that is right for you, as much as an employer wants a candidate that is right for them.


  • – End the call politely. A simple thank you very much, or I look forward to speaking to you soon can go a long way and will leave recruiters and employers satisfied. It will also help us remember you as a strong candidate. Many times, I have put the phone down after speaking to a very polite candidate and said “She/he was very good! She/he would be perfect for the role.” I then remember that candidate throughout the entire process, continue to check in on their progress and support her/him in whatever way I can. These positive interactions will encourage employers or recruiters to want to get you through the process and into your dream job.


By Thomas Gaskin; Junior Researcher at Futureboard Consulting

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