December 14

Phone Interview Tips – #1: Check Your Voicemail Greeting

Phone Interview Tips Series

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I have heard some bad voicemail greetings in my lifetime…ones that make me listen to that person’s favorite song before I can leave my message, ones that were recorded by charming but difficult-to-understand 3-year-olds, and even some that tried to be funny but weren’t, like “How do you leave an idiot in suspense?  Leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”

Talking about your voicemail greeting might seem like a strange place to start a series on phone interviews, but think about this:  if you don’t answer the phone yourself, the first impression that your potential new employer will have of you is your voicemail greeting.   It’s up to you what you want that impression to be.

Hopefully, you want that image to be professional, competent, and friendly.  That means keep it to 30 seconds or less, eliminate background noise, and maybe even offer an alternative way to contact you, such as your email address.

phone interview tipsOne other thing that is helpful is to let the caller know they’ve got the right person.  You can say, “Hi, this is Joe Smith.  Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”  Or, “You’ve reached the Burtons.  Please leave a message.”  Or, if you’re not comfortable revealing your name, you can just say your number:  “You’ve reached 555-555-1212.  Please leave a message.”

A very nice touch is to show some enthusiasm and thank the person for calling:  “Hi, this is Jane Smith.  I appreciate your call, but I am not available right now.  Please leave a message and I will call you back soon.”

You can record a personalized voicemail message like this on your landline or your cell.  But here’s a couple more tips for you:

If you have people in your home who will be answering the phone themselves instead of letting it go to voicemail, please make sure they know how to take a message in a professional manner.  I’ve talked to lots of kids who don’t know how to answer the phone politely, can’t find a pencil to write down my number, or told me too much information like the parent is in the shower or sleeping.

If your cell is your primary number, be cognizant of where you are and what you’re doing when you answer the phone.  If you’re going to answer the call of a recruiter or hiring manager, don’t be in a very noisy store or out of breath from running.  If you’re not already in a quiet spot, it might be better to let it go to voicemail so that you can get to somewhere appropriate to call back.

When you’re in a job search, you have to take care of as many details as you possibly can that will influence the image you’re projecting.  That counts for the big things like your resume and your online presence, and it counts for the smallest details like what they hear on your voicemail. Everything works together to market you for the job.

After you get the job, you can change your voicemail back to anything you want.


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