The phone rings, and a company you applied to wants to interview you more or less “right now.” What should you do? Ideally, start by buying yourself some think-time. That is, indicate to the caller that although you don’t have time to talk properly at the moment, you are definitely interested and would like to schedule a call or in-person interview for a later day/time. Too much is at stake to rush into the interview without a chance to think about it.
A recent article by Nick Corcodilos (Ask The Headhunter), has some excellent points to make on the subject of interview preparation. He was specifically responding to an inquiry regarding a call from a recruiter, but his points relate equally well to calls from employers. Basically, he made 3 comments:
To finish up, Corcodilos lays it on the line like this: “If you’re dealing with lousy headhunters, stop. If you’re desperate to interview as often as possible under any circumstances, stop….Decline the interview until you are prepared. This isn’t a race. It’s business, and unprepared business people lose.”
Years ago, I had a client call me to say that he thought he had just blown his chance for an interview. He had received a call from a manager about the resume he had submitted. The indication at the beginning of the call was that this was just the precursor to an in-person interview. By the end of the call, no suggestion of a face-to-face interview was made. What went wrong? It might have been the fact, as my client mentioned to me, that he happened to be taking care of his two young grandchildren at the time, and he was distracted on more than one occasion while trying to answer the caller’s questions–to the extent that he wondered once or twice where in the world his responses had come from!
As I tell clients when we’re doing interview coaching, you do not have to proceed at the time of that initial phone contact, and if you handle it professionally, you can arrange a time to talk that allows you to prepare properly and to minimize interview distractions during the phone call. Along with that, however, it’s a good idea to heed Corcodilos’ advice to avoid applying and trying to secure interviews until you’ve done your research. You owe it to yourself to give interview preparation your best shot.