Telephone Etiquette for the Job Search and Interview

Your job application begins with submitting excellent career documents, like an appealing resume and cover letter. However, if the hiring manager is impressed with those documents and picks up the phone to call you, are you ready for that call? Below are some important ways to prepare for a phone call from a potential employer.

How to Be Ready for the Call


  • Always answer your phone with a friendly hello and a “smile” in your voice.

  • Keep in mind that your “soft skills” are on display during a phone call: confidence, active listening, honesty, enthusiasm, and calmness under pressure.

  • Think of the phone call as a “mini-interview,” and respond thoughtfully as a professional.


  • Always be sure your voicemail is not full; check it daily.

  • Before you answer, make sure you are in a place with good cell phone reception.

  • Be completely focused on the call, not driving or involved in another activity. 

IMPORTANT: It’s better to let the call go to voicemail if you are not ready to answer it. Check your email, including the spam folder, in case the employer decides to follow the phone call with an email.

Voicemail Messages

When setting up your voicemail for receiving messages

  • make sure you have a professional-sounding voicemail message, 

  • say your full name as it appears on your application,

  • speak clearly with a friendly tone, and

  • ask the caller to leave a name, number, and message, including the best time to return the call. 

When returning a call and leaving a message  

  • be sure you are in a quiet place,

  • state your name, contact number, and the title of the position that was mentioned when they left the voicemail, and

  • thank them for their call. 

Talking to a Potential Employer

  • If you are returning a call to the company, you should shower and dress as if you were meeting the representative in person. The way you look affects your attitude and responses.

  • Be sure you are in a quiet place with (1) a copy of the job posting, (2) your resume and cover letter, and (3) the full name, department, and extension of the contact person. Treat it like an interview.

Following these important guidelines will help promote you as the best person for the job!


Adapted from Testman, J. (n.d.).  8 phone etiquette tips for job seekers.

Revised 16 May 2024



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Article ID: 114535
Fri 8/21/20 9:19 PM
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