Interviewing – Being Available and Accepting the Interview

If you’ve applied for jobs and are expecting employers to be in touch, be sure you are ready by doing a few things. Hiring decisions get made quickly. In some cases, even waiting a few hours between getting a call/email and responding might mean they move on to other candidates.

  • First, be sure your cell phone has the voicemail function set up. If you get a message, check it right away (before calling back the number). Employers still use voicemail constantly and if they leave you a message they will expect that you’ve listened to it before calling back and may have left instructions (“select a date from one of these choices and call us back with the one that works for you”). Make sure your mailbox is not full and the message callers hear is professional, with no background noise or music, and identifies you by name in the message so they know they have reached the right person.
  • Second, consider answering calls from unknown numbers. You might not normally do this, but every employer will be an unknown number to you. If you can speak to them “live” it’s better than returning a call. Third, check your email frequently—including your junk email filter. College students generally get a little more flexibility with being “reachable” (they know you might be in class when they call) but a quick response will always get noticed. Respond as quickly as you can.

When accepting an interview most employers will give you a choice or a few different days/times. Keep your calendar up to date so you can answer quickly when you get contacted. You may be working around classes, internships or part time jobs and other obligations so remember to leave extra time for travel and delays when agreeing to a time.

Always get a name and cell phone number for someone you can contact if anything comes up on the day of the interview.

Make sure you get clear instructions on where to go (address, specific building or room number) and ask if there are any other items you need to be aware of such as needing extra time to get through security, need for a parking pass, etc.

Employers often try to cluster interviews together in a single day or two to make it easier on the staff conducting the interviews. If you are called early in the selection process you may have the option of picking from time slots early in the day or later in the day. I’m often asked if one is better than another in terms of making a good impression or being compared to other candidates. Unfortunately, the answer is complicated and there is research to support both choices. The reality is that interviewing is based on interpersonal interactions and you (usually) don’t know anything about the person with whom you are interviewing. Let’s say you pick a morning interview because you are a morning person. What if your interviewer isn’t? There is no great way to make these decisions to truly factor everything in unless you have real inside knowledge about the person you are interviewing with (which is pretty rare). My best advice is always to make the choice that is most likely to help you perform at your best. If you are a morning person, go in the morning. You performing at your best is likely far more important than any of the other potential impacts of timing that are often based on factors outside your control.