by Allison Kapner
http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonardlow/ / CC BY 2.0
So, now that last week we had our “commercial interruption” last week, let’s get back to the main story. We’re moving from dating and the job hunt process to dating and interviewing. So let’s examine Step 2: the first phone call – setting up the “appointment.”
So, you met someone. Maybe it’s a company that FINALLY called you about that job you’d drying to get. Or it’s that person you really wanted to date. Congratulations! So now what?
Rule number 1: Expect the first encounter to be awkward. Why? Just because! Here you are speaking to someone, not quite sure what they will sound like, their level of energy, their real interest, or who it is that controls the conversation (i.e., who has the upper hand, or who wants who more). Losing the body language aspect can be detrimental if you are not aware of how you should carry yourself… even over the phone.
Rule number 2: Learn to be ok with silence. There may be an awkward silence on the phone. That’s fine. The other person could be taking notes, or distracted by an important email that just arrived in their inbox. Be ok with silence. You don’t have to fill it. In fact, filling it could be detrimental to your prospects, be they professional or personal.
So how do you implement the rules above? Here are a few tips:
- If you hear from an employer, assume they will control the flow of the conversation and that they have the upper hand. Because chances are, they’re interviewing more than just you.
- Be energetic and sound excited without going overboard.
- Make sure you choose a quiet location.
- Don’t be too long-winded. (There is a good chance this person has 10 other phone calls exactly the same to make after yours.)
- Make sure you have your calendar ready to go should they ask for a second interview. And if they do, be flexible.
- If you are asked to come in for an interview, ask for the names and titles of the people you will be meeting or speaking with and don’t hesitate to ask for correct spelling so you can later stalk those people online… I mean, do your research.
Another piece of advice, if you are applying to jobs and get unknown numbers calling your cell, answer it professionally, I had a student pick up the phone saying “yeah…” the other day and I could have been an employer. If you’re not in a good place to pick it up, let it go to voicemail. That’s why it exists.
A lot of these same rules apply to dating: Keep it simple. Again, sound energetic. (No one wants to date a fuddy-duddy.) There may be a power struggle about who keeps lead of the conversation, but do your thing and politely say you were in the middle of something if you’re antsy to get off. Anxiety vanished and date set up. Easy, right?
Also, although it sounds silly, smile on the phone. It will show through. (This is actually a tip for dating and interviewing.)
A side note: A lot of logistics – both for interviewing and dating – are now set up over email, which because of its impersonal nature, is not as difficult, but is just as tricky.
If an employer reaches out via email to you, mimic their tone in your response. Also, keep your response short and to the point. The point of the email is to set up a time and place, not to tell them your life story. My favorite line from my public relations classes: Keep it simple, stupid.
If a date emails you, again, I would mimic the tone. Again, I would recommend keeping things short. (You don’t want to tell them everything in email. If you do, what will you talk about on the date?)
And if you’re concerned about tone, in either case, have a friend proofread the email for you before you send it.
Overview: Do whatever it is you are most comfortable with, but be aware that tone and other nuances easily get lost in translation via email and the phone. If you are cognizant of this going into it, you will be more successful at making the process as simple and painless as possible.
One last thing, do not begin with text messaging in either case.
Allison Kapner is a Relationship Manager in Career Services at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School where she is responsible for building partnerships with employers to ultimately create job and internship opportunities for students and alumni. She also advises and coaches students on job search techniques and brings a unique corporate expertise to assist candidates, as her past experience was as an Executive Recruiter in financial services in New York City.