Posted: by HRNasty in Job Interview Tips, What HR Really Thinks, What Recruiters Really Think

phone interview

Doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, pick up the phone!

Phone interview

“The phone interview is where you make your first impression.  Your voice and attitude are the ONLY things I have to go on during the phone interview.  Negative examples and rude behavior are only amplified over the phone because I take my cues from your voice, and the voice tells all.”

You have sent out your resume, and are now waiting for the call from a recruiter.

As a guy that has called on hundreds of candidates, I thought it might help to let you know what myself and most recruiters are thinking as I go through the process.  Some of this won’t be admitted to publicly, but trust me, it happens, and this is why I wear a mask and dark glasses.

If your online profile checks out, my next step is either a phone call or email, depending on my timeline.

When I call a candidate for a phone interview, I am looking for a couple of things:

  • I want someone to answer the phone when I call.  I don’t want to leave a message.  If you have caller ID and don’t recognize a number, PICK IT UP!!!!  That could be your next employer calling.
  • I am on a timeline to fill this position with hiring managers breathing down my back.  If you are calling the hot girl or cute boy, you wouldn’t want to follow-up or leave a message.  I don’t either.
  • If I get a message, I want it to be a message that would be appropriate within our business setting.  I don’t want to hear Rod Stewarts “Do ya think I’m sexy” and a beep.  I don’t want to hear an automated voicemail that has your +1 yelling in the background or some cutesy message where you are saying “Hello?  Hello?  I can’t hear you”.
  • If I am going to leave a message, I want to know I called the right person.  Your message should confirm who I called.  I want something polite, energetic, and is just that, “a message”.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I totally understand that if you are currently working or going to school, you are probably not going to pick up the phone between 9 am and 5 pm. We all have lives and we are all busy people. That being said, please do everything you can to call me at your break or your lunch. I am not expecting to interview you for 30 minutes at that minute. I just want to know that you received the phone call and schedule a time to talk. I literally want to know if you exist and are still looking for new opportunities. 

If I do get a real person, I want to hear something that would be business appropriate and would delight our customers.  Yes, I said it, “delight”.  I want to hear a smile come through the phone, I want to hear energy, and would love to hear the candidate announce their first name.  A flat hello followed by silence is not business appropriate and although I won’t hang up immediately, the clock is ticking and the  conversation hasn’t even started.

This is my very first impression of you, and within 5 seconds I am trying to figure out if I can bring you in to the office without embarrassing myself.  Remember, you are going to be representing me. I am going to put my reputation on the line for you when I present you to the hiring manager, so I have to figure out if you are “with me”, or “not”.

In an effort to minimize my disappointment on this initial call, I will announce myself and give you a hint.  I will literally say something like this:  “My name is HRNasty and I work with a company called Acme Publishing.  You applied for a position with our sales group and I was wondering if you were still looking for new opportunities.  I realize I am calling un announced, is this a good time?”

I don’t know how many times I get the following even after I introduce myself per the above.  I often hear:

  • “Huh?”
  • “Yeah”
  • “Uh Huh”
  • “What did you say?”
  • “You finally called, what took you so long?”

So many people answer the phone as if they are expecting a telesales person.  With any one of the above answers, the interview is over.  Why?  Because at our company, we want people to answer every phone call like it is a customer on the line.  We shouldn’t have to train someone on how to answer a phone.

Great answers sound like:

  • “Thank you for calling, I have been really excited about this opportunity since I first heard about it.”
  • “Yes, this is a great time.  I have heard so many great things about your company!”
  • “Thanks for calling, can you give me one minute, I want to move to a quieter place.”
  • “Thank you for calling.  I am at a restaurant; I am in a meeting, can I call you right back in 15 minutes?  I am really excited to talk about the opportunity.”

Sounds corny as I write it, and sounds cornier as I read it back, but trust me, this stuff works. The tone has been set and here is why:

  • I don’t feel like I have to explain myself
  • I feel welcome
  • I feel like I have someone who isn’t just looking for a job, but wants to be with ACME Publishing.

See the theme in the two sets of bullet points? Excitement has been conveyed by the candidate and the words “I feel” from me.

When you called your first high school crush, and the answer was positive and welcoming, “Game on!” If she said “I am so happy you called, I was hoping I would hear from you” the tone was set for the rest of the conversation.  When you called your first crush and got the “yeah, what do you want?” regardless of your crushes “intent”, the “impact” was felt. 

Make me feel like your first crush.

Like any phone interview, I will have a few standard questions. You should know these are coming and be prepared:

  • Can you tell me what you know about the company.  (This is a test which will prove how interested you are in our company. If you can’t tell me anything, that is an indication there was no interest.)
  • What are you looking for in a new position?
  • How much are you looking for?  ( I want to know if we are in the same ballpark financially)
  • When can you come in to talk?  (Hint, if you are really interested, you will move your schedule)
    • When the hot girl called you up for a date, you dumped mom’s Sunday dinner to make hook up if needed.

After you get off the phone interview send a thank you email. Send it postal mail to the attention of the recruiter if you didn’t get the email address.

If you are asked to come in to interview in person (congratulations!). Send a thank you email including the following:

  • Reinforce that you are excited about the opportunity
  • Confirm the time and date of your interview
  • Keep it short


  • ask about benefits
  • ask about pay  (the recruiter will ask about this)
  • ask about vacation, parking, time off

See the theme?  At this point, the conversation is about me. This phone call isn’t about the candidate “yet’. Don’t get me wrong, I am trying to sell you, but the candidate should be selling their interest in the position vs. their interest in the benefits. 

What to ask in a phone interview

  • What do you like about the company?
  • What attracted you to the company?
  • Any advice for me?  (you will be surprised how easy this is, remember, you represent me)
  • How did this position become open?  Is it a new position?  (Don’t ask if someone got fired)

This interview will probably be short.  The recruiter will make a pretty quick decision based on your social profile, blog, and profile picture, and this conversation whether or not they feel you will be a “fit”.  Help them keep it short.

A phone interview is to confirm what is already suspected.  Based on the resume and the your social skills over the phone, I just want to confirm your skill set and personality fall within the parameters so I can bring you in.

Why the Phone Screen is the easiest to prepare for AND Phone Screen Interview questions

How to set the tone of the interview



nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • Michelle

    After reading all the whiny and negative comments, it explains why so many people are unemployed. Thank you for this article HRNasty, it is really giving some good tips for my phone interview tomorrow. BTW, I did reject the first call from the recruiter because it was a phone number from the east coast, and I declined it because I thought it was my credit card company. (Negotiating with creditors lately) As you can see, I need to land a job badly. I called the recruited back. We set up a phone interview after speaking for about 5 minutes. He sounded really cool. Again, thank you for the real talk here.

    • HRNasty

      Michelle, you are VERY welcome and thank you for being so realistic. Glad your call back to the recruiter paid off. Good luck with your search and let us know if we can help out in any way! HRN

  • Bri

    Hi thank your for this article… I’m really worried right now. A few days ago I submitted an application to Burger King (I’m a teen and that would be my first job if I got it). About a half hour ago I got a call, didn’t recognize the id but picked it up anyway, and it turned out to be a recruiter from Burger King! She asked me if I’d like to come in for an interview and I said yeah I’d love to. She said the interview would be in a few days at 3. I can’t make that time though because my mom works until around 5 and that is our only car so I’d have no way to get there for the interview. :( I told her that and asked if there were any later times or if any other days were good and the only other days were also at three… :c She asked if I’d like her to call back if she can set up a later interview (and I said yeah that would be awesome, thank you!). I’m just worried that she won’t call back. Has something like this ever happened to anyone else?

    • IG

      don’t be a fool. She will never call you back. Take a taxi or find another way to resolve the transportation problem

    • HRNasty


      I have to partially agree with IG on this one. Where there is a will, there is a way. Is your mom’s car the ONLY ride to this interview? Burger King is looking for folks who can get to work, and the way to prove this is to make it to the interview. They do not want to worry about whether or not you have a ride or not. I blogged a bit on this topic here: See bullet point three. Take the bus, get someone to give you a ride, take a taxi. There has got to be a way. If you can’t make it to the interview, unfortunately, they will only have but one conclusion, you won’t be able to make it to work. Good luck, HRN

  • IG

    What makes recruiters give calls instead of sending an email? Seriously, I have a phone for recruiters only. My wife and my friends have more convenient ways to communite with me. Recruiters, what prevents you from using email box?

  • Aimee Levens

    Kick ass advice. Love, A Fellow Recruiter :) (PS – I’m a career coach as well and use the dating analogies constantly – woo hoo!).

  • princess chatterjee

    I disagree most recruiters will ask for a time frame when someone is free.Its also very important when responding to the interview request to give them a time frame ( Tuesday between 2-4 p.m), so they call you then! If you don’t…then they just sort of call and it may or may not be a suitable time!

  • Matt

    Thank you. I found this rather realistic and practical advice. Hopefully, my phone interview goes well today!

  • T Bana

    This recruiter sounds like they are only worried about calling very young people for jobs. Generally, once people are over 25 they aren’t going to relate to your stories about a crush, a first love or someone they might have called when they were 14. If you are calling a professional and an adult about a job, why are you worried that they are responding like tweens? Maybe you should be calling more adults for these jobs. Check the resume and make sure they have graduated from high school.

    • Aimee Levens

      Believe it or not a lot of candidates are clueless about these basics – sometimes they are young and need this advice, sometimes they’ve been in the same job for their whole career and are clueless how to navigate the search. And saying someone over 25 “aren’t going to relate”? Huh? As if once you turn 25 you lose all your memory of dating? I’m in my 40’s and married and found the analogies great – and a way to think about job searching as it is: trying to create a relationship out of thin air.

  • mtnview84

    Hello, I’m looking for the job, but I’m deaf. Normally I use text relay services, and I explain that to the recruiter, so they could be prepared, However I see there is no point to trying to explain and pass thru phone screen with text relay. They simply don’t want to interview at all and never came back.
    Could anyone please give me advice on it? How should deaf(not signing ASL) person pass the phone interview?

    • Aimee Levens

      Put it next to your contact info on your resume :)

      • mtnview84

        I tried it, and this resume would never get any call.

        • Aimee Levens

          Reach out to me on LinkedIn…maybe it’s your resume that needs love :)

  • yash

    Hi, I came here looking for an answer for my questions. I was invited twice for on-site interviews. The company was responding really fast while scheduling all the interview rounds but now it has been 3 weeks since my 2nd onsite interview and I haven’t heard anything from them. During the 2nd onsite interview, I was told that I should expect an answer in 2-3 days. When i did not get anything, I called approx. 1 week after the 2nd onsite, and was told they would have the answer soon. Should I call the internal recruiter again and ask whats happening? Can you please tell me what might be happening on the other side ?

    • Aimee Levens

      I would send an email to both the hiring manager and recruiter. Unfortunately, many places are terrible at follow up and if you haven’t heard from them within 2 weeks, move on. If they want you, they’ll move fast. Otherwise often they are just waiting to see how others further along in the process do, and keeping you as “bench reserve” much of the time :( . Unfortunately, many overworked recruiters with too many recruitments are terrible at follow up :(

  • Robert Jackson

    Honestly I have grown tired of useless calls from recruiters. Why ask me for my portfolio when the link is listed on my resume, a link to my LinkedIn is listed on my resume and it has my portfolio link too? Why keep calling me for jobs that I have the skills for but apparently the employer is not hiring for the position, I say this because I have never heard from one employer that recruiters give my resume to. I have even rewritten it for different positions.

    I told one today my portfolio is at enterfan com and if that is not a good enough of example of my skills and talents then let the employer higher some idiot with a pretty resume. You can’t tell me that I can build an entire fucking Social Network using PHP, MySQL, Javascript, HTML5 and CSS3 but I am not qualified enough to get even 1 single employer calling me to set up an interview for an entry fucking level PHP job. Really you mean writing a few million lines of PHP to create several thousands PHP Classes and files which create a social network doesn’t even qualify me for a simple entry level PHP programming job???

    I mean the same recruiters call me several times a month, nothing has changed, my portfolio is the same.

    The only reason I can think of for not hearing from employers even when I apply for the simplest, entry level web development job is the fact that I have always been self employed, lost my business in 2008 and have not been able to get a job since. I guess that looks really bad on a resume or even Walmart application.

    The only option I see is to keep trying to improve enterfan for the next few months, then if it doesn’t make money come up with another idea and if that doesn’t make money come up with another idea and another until I find one that finally makes money.

    The way I see it now is employers can suck my ass and continue to hire incompetent idiots with pretty resumes

    • Aimee Levens

      There are bad recruiters and good recruiters. But the fact that

      your reply here is full of profanity towards hiring teams? Perhaps this is why you’re not getting the responses you want.

      • Robert Jackson

        what the fuck ever. I have only started responding like this in the last few months because I am tired of the CORPORATE BULLSHIT.

  • Anas Al-Mustafa

    Nice post, thank you

    • HRNasty

      thanks for stopping by and really appreciate the support! Thank you! HRN

  • Pingback: Phone screen questions. A HR exec explains how to prepare by HRNasty, HR gone rogue()

  • GirlNeedsNewLife!

    Can you tell me why an internal recruiter emailed me, asking for a timeframe so she could schedule a phone interview, and then has not answered me reply after two days? My reply was concise and courteous, with no slang or misspellings….this has happened to me a couple of times with the same company within about a year. I would appreciate some insight.

    • HRNasty

      Great question and one I hear on a regular basis. I would say that this is more of a reflection on the the individual recruiter working with or at the company. Generally speaking, if someone reaches out to you for a FIRST contact, they will want to talk. I did write this which explains some of the reasons recruiters don’t call back:
      I realize this happens more often than not. I would take it as a reflection of the recruiter. That being said, this is why I preach that we want to make it as EASY as possible to get ahold of us as candidates. I realize there are things out of our control, but if we were to leave it to “the other person” to be responsible for our careers, our careers will never get off the ground. I want to make it as EASY as possible for anyone to get ahold of me during this process. Regardless of how busy the recruiter is, how little they care, or how dis interested they are. Hope this helps, HRN

  • anon

    I agree, hr people have to understand that people have other jobs and cannot just drop everything they are doing to answer a call. People cannot be available 24/7 to pick up their call. Especially personal calls. I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who can’t understand this. If it is very important, they can always send an email.

  • Richard Rabinowitz

    Also, because there are a TON of telemarketers out there, and they outstrip the recruiting agencies by a good deal, it is natural to assume that someone calling from, say, 555-2321, is a junk caller or telemarketer. So… if you REALLY want my time and energy… email me, or text me – and use an appropriate topic. Thanks.

  • Richard Rabinowitz

    Thanks for demonstrating that the technique of phone interviewing is inherently discriminatory towards deaf/ hard of hearing people. How would one expect a deaf/ hard of hearing person to understand an unsolicited caller? Also, even though deaf/ hard of hearing people sometimes have captioned telephones, the captioning process imposes a delay that a tele-interviewer with normal hearing would misinterpret. It may be “unbusinesslike”, but sometimes it is necessary for a delay to occur.

    tl;dr: Phone interviewing discriminates against the deaf/ hard of hearing.

    • Aimee Levens

      I email everyone I want to talk to first – gets a faster response and is a way to find out things like you mention above. That being said, I’ve done plenty of phone interviews with the hard of hearing who use TDD to get through this. But I do agree with you on not feeling obligated to answer every call of a number you don’t recognize at any given time :)

  • AF C

    After reading this article I think it’s more for hiring people to work at taco bell instead of a business professional. Horrible…..

  • Henry

    This was great advice!! It really helped me today. Thank you!

    • HRNasty

      Henry, thanks or stopping by and glad the info helped out. Good luck!

  • Chandra

    As a recruiter I agree with some of what is said. It’s important if you’re expecting a call for an interview the only way to answer is “Good morning/afternoon, this is ….”. It’s basic professional etiquette. I expect the call to sell me on why I want to work with you.

    However, I disagree on other points. I think it’s okay to ask about benefits, vacation, the headquarters and if a recruiter has a problem with that they’re missing an opportunity to sell! The one thing I will point out is that if you’re serious about an opportunity asking about pay likely won’t get you far. Most organizations keep their compensation models tucked away and those who ask you early on — well this maybe a warning that they pay may not be competitive.

    If you’re far beyond midpoint in the role, however, it’s not a bad idea to check in to make sure you’re making the best use of everyone’s time. I recommend treading lightly in this territory though, as a recruiter I’m weary of folks that are focused on base salary specifically because people who make a change for the money will leave you just as quickly when a higher salary comes along. Also, it’s just not in your best interest to negotiate a salary upfront especially without knowing about the role. It could be your dream job but pay on the lower end or it could be a nightmare and pay far more than other companies. So if you’re asked about salary expectations, don’t be afraid to be coy let the recruiter know you need a few more details before making a decision.

    Secondly, the candidates role is to show professionalism and provide relevant examples of experience and background. The recruiter’s role is to act as an ambassador for the company. If you treat people badly, that’s going up on Glassdoor straight away and you can destroy your brand. Savvy candidates do research and they won’t talk to companies who are known for negative candidate experience. At the end of the day your candidate is your customer, no matter how annoying they are it’s your job to treat them respectfully and ensure they have a positive experience. Even when candidates are driving me up the wall, I give them the benefit of the doubt by looking at whether this is a yellow flag or a red flag but at the end of the day I’m courtesy, professional and respectful.

    The last thing I’d like to say is that those questions are terrible. There are far better questions you can ask during an interview. I like to find out what drew the interviewer to the company, what’s different there compared to their prior employer or how success is measured in the role. These questions are far more likely to either sell you or cause you to run screaming.

    So overall just remember, this is your reputation and it will follow you. Professionalism, transparency and respect for both parties involved in the conversation. Anything less is worth walking away from.

    • Kira Sherrine

      Thank you. I wish you wrote this post. It is exactly what should happen in an prescreening and HR should understand their role as well. Is there a way to communicate with you. I have some questions, that I feel you would have good pointers for. LinkedIn perhaps?

      • HRNasty

        Thank you for the comments and checking out the blog. I posted a reply. Feel free to contact me at

  • Rachel

    phone interview is where you make your first impression. Your voice
    and attitude are the ONLY things I have to go on during the phone

    This is why most experienced candidates will refuse to interview with an HR drone. Because you’re honestly incapable of using the content of the candidate’s actual answers to assess their skills, you use irrelevant measures like these to “assess” them instead. All you’re really assessing by using irrelevant heuristics is your own suitability as an interviewer. If a company can’t be bothered to send a competent interviewer to their own meeting, what makes them think any worthwhile candidates will be interested in showing up?

    • Aimee Levens

      Insulting HR will get you nowhere. We want to make sure candidates aren’t going to act like jerks to the hiring manager – and if you can’t make basic conversation, do you have the social skills to get along in a company environment? Treat HR like your ally, rather than your enemy, and they can help you get to where you want to be. Treat them like crap, and you won’t go far. Sure there are recruiters who stink at their job (I’ve dealt with many myself), but if the end goal is to get the job, what good is it going to do to treat someone who works at that company with this type of condescension?

      • IG

        I’ve seen so many people excellent at interview but completely useless at doing their jobs. So the advice is simple, if you want to have a better rate learn how to deal with HR, competence has not much to do with your salary/rate. Hiring manager does not care and has no capability to understand how much value you potentially can bring into the business..

        • Aimee Levens

          That’s a bad interview then, because a good interview process goes way beyond the old fashioned Q&A that makes all our eyes roll, and truly lets the team see how they’ll be in the workplace. Good interviews are harder unfortunately to come by, that’s why I challenge my hiring teams a lot on what they’re focusing on, if they complain they can’t find the right people.

      • HRNasty

        Aimee, you make a great point. As recruiters and hiring managers, the behavior and manners shown during the hiring process is all we have to go on in the present moment. We take it as a direct reflection of how this candidate will treat our customers and our internal colleagues. If we are not able to treat the HR department in a decent way, we can only assume the same attitude will be extended to the customers. Regardless of whether we agree with this or not, Aimee is only pointing out the unspoken rules of the game that most don’t ever learn in school or even at work. For many HR professionals, we feel this is a shame, which is why we are sharing them here. We want folks to be successful and so we are uncovering the ways to win.

  • Alexander K. Dumas

    these motherfuckers are full of shit. I have been called numerous times for phone interviews. They ask me to go in for a face to face, but then tell me they went with someone else. Half the time I think it is because I am black. FUCK THESE PHONE INTERVIEWS.

  • RetardintheWH

    This is the typical attitude from recruiters. They act as if they own a person. You don’t. That’s your job to recruit and who cares about who’s breathing down your back. The reason why you have frustration is because your lousy at picking candidates. Recruiters NEVER return calls or even respond back, then they criticize us for not following proper etiquette. I’ve had more luck doing it myself. Don’t waste your time and energy. Most recruiters are just looking for leads. My word of advice. NEVER give a recruiter information on others you know. Make them earn the information first and come back with viable offers of employment that pan out first.

    • HRNasty

      Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry you feel this way about recruiters. FWIW, I am trying to provide the impression that most recruiters have so that candidates CAN arm themselves and know how to play “the game”. Recruiters can be a resource, we just need to know how to leverage them.

      • RetardintheWH

        I’ve had at least thirteen recruiters call me in two months. How many have called back just to say “yes” or “no?” Zero. A resource is great if there is proper follow up, but I’ve become jaded from recruiters. Sorry, but the game is on your side. Not mine. I’m too busy trying to make a living to worry about the “game.” If you really want to help make sure other recruiters know how we feel, you can do one thing. FOLLOW THROUGH regardless of the result. It’s to easy now for people to blow you off over the email and phone. It’s disrespectful and annoying.

        Best Wishes..

        • Aimee Levens

          Yes there are bad, bad recruiters out there who give the profession a bad name…just as there are bad marketers, salespeople, engineer, managers, accountants, etc. As a recruiter, I fill my positions on average in under a month because I follow through same-day with every applicant and consider myself an advocate for both sides. Everyone hears from me and gets feedback afterwards as well. Not all of us are evil.

    • Aimee Levens

      There are good and bad recruiters out there – please don’t make blanket statements.

  • Junior

    … And pic? They’ll use your PICTURE to see if you’re a good candidate or not? What? Why would someone EVER make a decision based off of your picture? I get if you’re not dressed correctly or presented well. But why your linkedin or twitter picture? To SEE if you LOOK like you fit? Lol, what? See, things like this make me think if you’re a minority, they’ll be quick just to not even move forward with the hiring process if they see anything other than a certain skintone.

    • HRNasty

      Yes, most recruiters do look at pictures as do hiring managers. The reason is not about skin tone but more about company fit. If I am recruiting for a conservative bank that requires a suit and tie, I will probably hold off on the candidate with extreme hairstyles and facial piercings. I realize that I am short changing the selections and there may be brilliant candidates with piercings, but I have a customer in a hiring manager and when they are in the mood for a suit and a tie, I need to give it to them. This is why I recommend that we go with a conservative picture that will blend in with any corporate environment. If I am hiring for a radio station, a hair salon, I won’t think twice about the extreme hair style or tattoo. My point is that a conservative picture will keep you in the selection process for more jobs than a less conservative image. Hope this makes sense, HRN

  • Cityflower

    HAHA! This made me laugh. Written by a typical recruiter! Entitled/self-absorbed/ and focused on nothing but the bottom line! They don’t care where you work – only that they place you somewhere. Trying to sell their clients top-tier talent but continuing to overlook the “no-brainers” that lead you to those. GUESS WHAT? – most good candidates (not all) already have jobs. That’s why they are good candidates. They are simply opportunistic and it’s YOUR JOB to sell them on new opportunities. NOT the other way around. I’m not going to answer my phone because I AM WORKING. AT MY JOB. The one that YOU need to convince me to leave. Don’t ask about benefits, time off, or pay? Are you KIDDING ME? Once again – let me reiterate: Since I ALREADY HAVE A JOB, these are factors that need to be presented in order for me to assess if it’s worth leaving my current position or not. If you won’t present them to me, then we won’t be working together. This mindset is limiting recruiters only to desperate people. Ones who have been out of work and are struggling to find it. They are the ones who are most likely waiting by the phone and who won’t care about benefits or pay. I’m sure your clients will love that you are inadvertently filtering out good/employed candidates in favor of desperate ones!

    • HRNasty

      Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate you pointing this out. FWIW, I am not an agency recruiter, I work internally for the hiring company. The point I am trying to make is that there are a lot of un employed folks who are making these mistakes, who are answering the phone with too much casualness or asking me to leave a message and then calling me right back. I am trying to point out the impression that is being left by those struggling to find a position. If you have a job then you probably have not these points figured out.

      Again, thanks for getting to realize this needed clarification


      • Chris

        I curently have a job and was previously an agency recruiter. Nobody ever judged a candidate negatively if they did not answer our call. We were told that most people do not answer your call because, well, they are not expecting you to call. Our focus was sounding impressive enough to warrant a call back. I also answered a call from the hiring manager of my first job with “Yo” because I was just disconnected from my buddy. I owned it, recovered and went on through the process and got the job. Some of this advice is weak…….

  • Tom

    Who wants a job where you have to talk on the phone anyway? Sounds positively dreadful.

  • Dirtbag359 .

    “I want someone to answer the phone when I call. I don’t want to leave a message. If you have caller ID and don’t recognize a number, PICK IT UP!!!! That could be your next employer calling.”

    While this is certainly understandable what about the flip side when I end up leaving 3 messages over the course of a week solely for the chance to speak with a recruiter at a particular agency for the first time?

    I understand not getting a call back within 10 minutes never mind the first day, but over the course of a week with multiple messages only to finally get a call from someone that doesn’t seem to care is pretty bad in its own right. Not to mention a promise to call me back when the recruiter has something else come up, only to break said promise. It’s not like I’m doing my best Toby Flenderson impression when I’m answering the phone.

    Maybe this is some sort of payback for the late 90’s when people avoided headhunters like the plague.

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  • ua2

    Always remember, HR can’t hire you, only disqualify you. I suggest for postings that are well written and specify what the direct team is to try to contact someone on that team via finding them through linkedin. Bypassing HR increases our chances dramatically.

    • Aimee Levens

      Bypassing HR is outright rude and unprofessional. Fine if you want to contact BOTH, but don’t bypass the process – remember, the hiring manager and HR are partners, and agree upon this process. Dissing HR/Recruiting by ignoring their role will only show that you think you’re above following company procedures.

      • IG

        Companies make money not because of a good HR team but because of value which employee add to the company. HR has no competence to estimate the value. So only God knows what’s the role of HR in a hiring process. Any thoughts?

        • Aimee Levens

          Depends on the HR professional. Some do, some don’t. HR is a cross-functional type of expertise, in a lot of ways like Marketing. HR adds to the company’s profitability and overall bottom line when HR staff has a strong knowledge of the business, organizational development, and compensation, benefits, training, and recruiting programs, and when executive teams include them at top-level discussions. As a recruiter, I find the right people for the right jobs who will help the company be profitable. Companies come to me because they go at it on their own and can’t find good people. I not only know good people, but I know who fits in what kind of organization and team, and along with that, I know what my hiring managers want so I screen for their requests (while also ensuring they’re not getting too anal retentive in what they’re asking for – I’m sure you’ve seen those job postings with 86 “requirements” when we all know there are great folks out there who would rock at the job but the hiring manager went for his/her dream person and told the recruiter it’s all or nothing. A good HR professional is able to partner with the hiring manager to understand the value of the role, and challenge them on areas where they could potentially serve their candidates and employees better. Pay is a huge one – if I’m out there and see that most folks in a certain role are making $100K and my client is paying $80K, that’s something they need to know. But again…just like there are bad hiring managers (and engineers, and salespeople, and execs, and…), there are bad HR folks who are making the good ones look bad.

          • IG

            What makes you think you “find right people for the right jobs “? Do you discuss that with founders/stake holders or you speak to a line manager a month after securing the role?

            What are the criteria for the “right person”? I always give my name when picking up a phone. Am I the right person?

      • HRNasty

        Aimee, you bring up a very good point. HR and the hiring manager are usually working together and we want everyone pulling for us. Bypassing the system just adds friction to an already red tape heavy process.

      • Kira Sherrine

        I would skip the hiring managers if I can. The ridiculous points they make to even send it to the hiring manager 7 out of 10, is different viewing from the hiring manager. The hiring manager will normally forward it to the HR ONLY to process you in.

        Your post has a bit of sarcasm and contradicting of itself. You can’t be mad that I didn’t pick up my phone and the talk about voicemail. In the end you are still using that as a trigger to judge me. There are TONS of reasons why people do not pick up their phone and hardly now is the excuse that the number was I recognizable. The call post also insinuates that I have to explain myself to you. Which I clearly do not have to do. You are calling unannounced. And since most resumes are sent via email. I would except you to reply to that email that you are interested in a phone interview (since those almost 95% means you are HR and not the hiring manager) and when is a good time to reach out. Not cold calling.

        2nd was that after you call, It is YOU that should introduce yourself. Again it is you that called not I. If I’m calling you then I expect to explain who I am. Since as you stated, majority of the time you are calling from a number that is not recognized. Yes there are a lot of people some people would not want to deal with. And I have not known even companies that answered with Hello and their name. Only the receptionist of the company which states the company. There should not be a long space after a Hello. (Or in my case “Hello, with whom am I speaking to?”) as you should have used that time to state who you are. When you do that, it’s then that the pleasantries begin. Not saying that I’m going to answer my phone rudely but your actions and expectations seem quite rude considering you called and I don’t know who is calling and I do not have a expectation of you calling.

        Everything else sounds okay until the wage part. Once again contradictory. You cannot ask me what am I looking for and yet I can not ask you that question. We BOTH are using this as a process of elimination as to whether this is a next step. You are asking me that because you already know your ballpark and are using it an rule of elimination or sort through to minimize the amount interviews a Hiring Manager has to go through. I am using to as a tool to not have to interview with a company that cannot pay what my ballpark range is. Very simple.

        It is not my job to please you. It is my job to do the job I’m hired to do with the integrity that comes with it. It is both our jobs as a prescreening to see if what the job actually entails is somethings that could possibly work right. = you the company and me the potential employee. Pleasantires on a formal level should always be there for both sides.

        The last one, which is expecting to ask when I can come in and interview. That is not something I should state, that is actually something you should state to acknowledge that I actually can meet with the hiring manager or to let me know that you will pass the interview info on to the hiring manager and see when you can reach a time. No one wants to seem desperate… Especially when a lot of HR people actually say they do not like that. Which again is a contradiction. If I didn’t want a interview, I would not have proceeded with the pre-screening.

        You do not know the amount of Hiring Managers I have talked to that state that the key point of what they were looking for was not what the HR person interpreted. The actual job description and qualifications! And it shows clearly in this post if you are more concerned about your ideal of pleasantries then the actual questions you would ask to see if a potential employee actually fit.

        • Kira Sherrine

          Also, please excuse any missing grammar or misspellings.

          • HRNasty

            Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting. You bring up great points and I totally understand where you are coming from and yes, this is some of my earlier work and there was some flippant attitude as I tried to differentiate this blog from the others. The bottom line is that yes, you are correct. The recruiter SHOULD introduce him or herself and there are a LOT OF things that recruiters can do better. That being said, the point of this post and this blog is to show where the recruiters and hiring managers are coming from so that as a candidate we can better prepare and be ready. I am not saying that it is right or wrong, in most cases, HR is on the rude and assuming side, but if we as a candidate want the job, we need to be ready for the insensitive, we need to be ready for the un trained, the impatient, and the folks that just do not know how to do the job and feel like they have the power. That is where this blog is coming from. I want to show how to get past all of the BULL SHIT and why this works. Hopefully this makes sense. HRN

  • Darin Clements

    Sound like all a recruiter wants is someone to kiss ass. Newsflash, Guido, yours isn’t the only job. Some of us are experts in our fields and we are interviewing YOU. If I don’t hear “delight” in your voice, yes, delight, then I’ll be sure to mark that down as well.

    • Aimee Levens

      No, we want people to give a shit about the job they applied for. It’s amazing – and very sad – how many people apply for jobs then sound totally apathetic when we talk to them (then wonder why they don’t get called back for interviews).

      • IG

        Why would I be excited about moving to a new job? Unless you really hate you current one..

        • Aimee Levens

          People don’t just leave jobs because they hate them. Sometimes the company isn’t doing well, or there only is so far they can go with that particular role (often in small companies this happens), or they want to go to a new industry and take on new challenges, or the chance to make more money (think moving from a nonprofit to a corporate job).

          • IG

            Honestly, searching for a new job is most stressful time of my life with no excitement at all. I clearly understand that a recruiter is the person who stands between me and my potential manager who can clearly understand my strengths. But seriously why would I be excited about say building a new house for someone even for 5% better money?? Speaking to a recruiter that’s what I hate most of all. It doesn’t produce any value or product I can sell or exchange into anything. I wish I could speak directly to a person who is happy to employ me because of my skills rather than following phone conversation etiquette,

          • HRNasty

            The benefit of speaking to a recruiter is that they usually have a relationship with the hiring manager. Whether this is an internal recruiter or an agency recruiter, they have a relationship that most candidates do not. Consider them to be your wing man or wing woman. They can help break the ice and are the credible reference that the hiring manager WILL listen to.

      • HRNasty

        Aimee, you are completely right. We just want folks to sound like they care. We talk to many folks every day on the phone and we are not able to see excitement over the phone. All we have is your tone of voice. Sounding excited is not kissing up, in this situation for me as a recruiter it is conveying interest.

    • Michael McNally

      Respect is a two way street. “Guido?” Seriously? You sound like an HR nightmare already.

  • MeGa SaMa

    You won’t get shit if you’re the type that stands people up buddy. Lower your expectations if you make people wait for ever for your stupid ass to call. You should be grateful that people are so desperate that they would wait for you to begin with, many people don’t have jobs. Stop taking yours for goddamn granted.

  • really?

    “would love to hear the candidate announce their first name. A flat
    hello followed by silence is not business appropriate and although I
    won’t hang up immediately, the clock is ticking” . Are you serious? This isn’t the 50s where you are calling a party line, and you’re not calling your secretary in the office. If you are calling my cell, you know who you are talking to. I would wonder if someone who answered a call like that was sharing a house with a bunch of college roomies.

    • HRNasty

      You would be surprised that there are still folks out there with room mates and land lines. Yes, we do realize that folks are calling cell phone 95% of the time, but for those that are answering the phone like this, I just want to make the point that recruiters and hiring manager are left with a first impression and they do not want their VP or manager calling a candidate and getting a “Whats up?”

      • monchies4

        Upon ending the conversation with the phone interviewer, should I have been asked to meet with them in person? Or do they usually wait a couple days to give you a call to schedule an interview time? Just recently had a phone interview with an investment firm. This is my first phone interview with an investment firm, so I was really nervous and not as articulate as I normally am.

        • HRNasty

          Great question. Generally speaking, candidates are not asked to come in for an in person interview at the end of the phone screen. The purpose of the phone screen is to talk to a number of candidates (between 3-5, maybe more depending on the position) and then after all of those candidates have been talked with, figure out which 1-3 candidates should be brought in for the in person, or a phone call with the hiring manager.

          One thing we can do is politely ask is to let the recruiter know that we will follow up via email or phone the following week to check in. Even if you did not say this during your phone call, it is totally OK to call or email. Sometimes folks in HR get busy or side tracked and I blogged about that here.

          Hope this helps and good luck!

        • Aimee Levens

          It’s always OK to ask what their timeline is for next steps – and takes ownership. And on phone interviews, have notes written down – keeps the butterflies in check :)

    • Aimee Levens

      Actually I always answer the phone with my name. I’s not the 1950’s, it’s called being prepared and professional in case a prospective employer calls. Not looking for a job? Then go back to answering however you choose. The author is giving hints so people will be more successful, why diss this?

  • Michael

    Did you HAVE to post the picture of the girl in the bikini to attract readers? Jeez you hyNasty

  • Shona

    If you call someone during business hours, there is a good chance you will get their voicemail. I’m in the job market, but I do not take personal calls on my current employer’s clock. If I am tied up with work responsibilities, then I’m sorry, you must leave a message. When I’m on my break, or lunch, I’ll call you back. I’m sorry, but this advice is very inconsiderate in this regard!

    • Aimee Levens

      Her advice was to check your voicemail on your break/lunch and return calls then – NOT to stop work if you aren’t allowed.

      • Rishona Campbell

        This was a man who wrote the article. And this is a direct quote:
        I want someone to answer the phone when I call. I don’t want to leave a message. If you have caller ID and don’t recognize a number, PICK IT UP!!!! That could be your next employer calling.

        • Faith

          If you continued reading, you would have seen:
          “I totally understand that if you are currently working or going to school, you are probably not going to pick up the phone between 9 am and 5 pm. We all have lives and we are all busy people. That being said, please do everything you can to call me at your break or your lunch. I am not expecting to interview you for 30 minutes at that minute. I just want to know that you received the phone call and schedule a time to talk. I literally want to know if you exist and are still looking for new opportunities. “

          • Rishona Campbell

            Yes – so he CLEARLY contradicts himself. A sign that he is disorganized in his thoughts and probably in other aspects of his professional life as well. He should tidy up his own house before offering advice to others.

          • Michael McNally

            If you’re this combative in regards to your own lack in reading comprehension I could only imagine what kind of employee you would make.

          • Rishona Campbell

            Combative? Wow… words. One thing is for sure, I’m the type of employee who would never work for YOU (since you are delusional)

          • HRNasty

            Faith, thank you for the clarification. Really appreciate your input here.

  • Him

    the writer can’t spell, punctuate or use prepositions properly. I read online articles as with a new book, I expect to learn. Everything I’ve read since I was 18 I’ve known it all before due to my own experience and it doesn’t change

    • Aimee Levens

      Ha – and you didn’t capitalize, use proper grammar, or put a period at the and of your sentence…

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  • Anon

    Biggest load of crock ever written. If this is how you select or reject candidates then I pity the company you work for.

    I don’t know how many times I get the following even before I can introduce myself:



    “Uh Huh”

    “What did you say?”

    “You finally called, what took you so long?”

    So many people answer the phone as if they are expecting a telesales person. With any one of the above answers, the conversation is over. Why? Because at our company, we want people to answer every phone call like it is a customer on the line. We don’t want to train someone how to answer a phone.

    • Guest

      Nothing could be further from the truth. This article was written with a lot of sarcasm and without a hint of regret. I get the hint already – HR means “business”, but a little courtesy from HR themselves can benefit a lot, especially when it boils down to “employee retention”.

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  • gander2112

    Great post as usual Mr. Nasty. The only quibble I would point out is if it is an unsolicited call from a recruiter on a fishing expedition, if they are blocking caller ID, I ignore the call. It never ceases to amaze me that head hunters (retained professionals) hide that meta data on calls.

    Of course, if I dropped my resume, and am interested in a position, then I behave differently.

    • HRNasty

      You are absolutely right! I wouldn’t call it “fishing”, I would call it bottom trolling.

    • Aimee Levens

      Agree on the author’s part about answering the phone – and anyhow, as a recruiter, I usually find that emailing a candidate gets a quicker response :)

  • Larry McKeogh

    Tried and true wisdom. This post reads like a script of my phone interview today. I believe I executed to plan and hopefully will hear back by the end of the week.

    • HRNasty

      Mr. McKeogh,
      Thanks as always for the support and glad you are proving out these humble theories. Let me know if I can help in anyway!

      • Larry McKeogh

        Back for a refresher. Great info as always. Amazed at the number of comments good and bad since my last visit. Keep it up, ’cause you’re keeping it real. All the best…

        • HRNasty

          Hey there Brother, welcome back. As always, let me know if I can help out in any way!


      • Dan Zehner

        I’m with Larry! I followed your advice when talking with a recruiter, but I haven’t heard back from them in almost a month. I sent a follow up “thank you” email the day after the interview, a “how’s things going/need anything else from me?” email the week after, and left a voicemail on the third week. They gave the timeline for me to hear back as two weeks. Do you have any advice? Should I just move on or try contacting someone in the hiring department or HR directly?

        • HRNasty

          sorry to hear that your recruited didn’t follow up. I would follow up with them via phone one last time and if you don’t hear back, move on. Agency recruiters can be professional, but at the end of the day, their client is the company that is paying them, and not us as candidates. If the candidate doesn’t help them make money by being a viable candidate then we are usually not of interest to the recruiter and it is best to move on.

          • IG

            I live and work in London, UK. To my experience 9 out of 10 recruiters who say “I will give you a call” or “I’ll definitely send you an email” never do so. Out of my 1000+ conversations I’ve seen only a few posting back.
            So a recruiter contacting you with feedback is either the one who will let you take the role or the one from your dreams.

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  • marvinawhite blog

    Thanks ! Super Post !!

    • Tony Darnell


  • Curtis

    Looks like you are an expert in this field, great post and keep up the good work, my buddy recommended me it.

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  • Evelyn Amateur

    Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.

    • Washi

      Your post has some good information but sending second thank you letter before the actual face to face is a bit much. Sending a thank you letter after the initial phone should be sufficient.