How to Properly Accept a Job Interview Invitation Over the Phone

job interview invitationA job interview invitation may be delivered by phone or email. Today, I’ll cover how to respond well when the invitation comes via telephone… which can be the trickiest situation of them all.

Why? Because when that phone rings you may not be in “professional” mode. Or the environment around may not exactly be perfect for an important business call. Or maybe you see that number on your caller ID and you just don’t know what to say.

Related: “You’ve Received an Emailed Job Interview Invitation… Now What?”

When that phone rings, and there’s an employer on the line, here’s how to accept that invitation to a job interview.

When You’re NOT Ready to Accept the Call

If you are able to talk with them at the moment that they call and are comfortable talking with them (mentally ready, having your calendar available, and the ability to take notes), accept the call.

To postpone the discussion until a better time for you to talk with them, follow these steps:

1. Thank them for calling you.

2. Indicate that this is not a good time for you to talk with them.

Most of us handle this situation best with a few minutes to get mentally prepared for it. When you discover the call is to schedule a job interview that you are not ready to manage, simply say, “Sorry, this is not a good time to talk with you.” 

No need to give a reason, just ask to reschedule the call to a better time for you, maybe in 15 minutes, maybe later in the day. Don’t expect them to wait more than one day. Typically, the reason that they call (vs. email) is because they are in a rush.

3. Then, ask them to call you back at a time when you will be able to talk. Be sure you are available to talk with them then!

Usually, when they call you, they are in a hurry trying to arrange several schedules and possibly interviews with more than one person for more than one job candidate. Taking their call as soon as possible demonstrates your interest in the opportunity.

4 Steps When You ARE Ready Accept the Call

At the appointed time, put on your best smile (seriously!) and most positive attitude, and call them (or accept their call). Be sure to have your calendar ready and the ability to take notes.

1. Thank them for their interest.

2. Collect information for the interview.

You need to know as much information as possible so you can be well-prepared for the interview. The first interview may simply be a “phone screen” interview which determines whether or not you are invited to an in-person interview. Hopefully, they are scheduling an in-person interview at a recruiter’s office (if an external recruiter has contacted you) or the employer’s location.

Ask for as many details about the job interview as possible, like:

Date and time of the interview | Mid-morning seems to be the best time for job interviews according to recent studies. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, if possible.

Location | for the interview. If appropriate, ask about parking and/or rapid transit connections.

The name of your contact | for the interview process, before and after. You want both an email address and a phone number.

Job  details | Job title, location of the job, job requirements, duties, and responsibilities.

The kind of interview process they will use | Will the interview be a  “phone screen” rather than in person. If in person, will it be a “panel” interview where several people will ask you questions in the same interview, or will you speak with each person separately?

Name and job title of each person | who will be interviewing you. (They may not know or provide all of this information, but ask anyway.)

Amount of time needed | so you can block off the appropriate amount of time on your calendar.

Even if the job doesn’t feel like a perfect fit for you or the employer isn’t on your list, seriously consider taking the interview anyway. You’ll gain more practice interviewing, and you might discover a great opportunity that wasn’t on your radar before.

3. End the call with a thank you, affirming your interest in the job.

When you have collected as much information as you can, thank them for the call, and tell them you are very interested in the opportunity and looking forward to the opportunity to interview for it.

4. Follow up with a confirming email to your contact.

In the email, confirm the date, time, location, and names (hopefully) of the people who will be interviewing you. They should respond with an email which confirms, or corrects, the contents of your message. If all is OK, no further messages from you are needed. If they respond with some changes/corrections or request that you reply, respond as appropriate.

Then, Prepare for the Job Interview!

You’ve accepted the interview invitation. You have an interview scheduled. Now, focus on being calm, confident, and well-prepared.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe.




Susan-P-Joyce-AuthorAbout the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.



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