How to Accept a Job Interview Invitation in a Phone Call

WorkCoachCafeAn invitation to a job interview may be delivered by phone or email. This article will cover how to respond well when the invitation is conveyed via telephone, which can be the trickiest situation.

Usually, employers invite you to a job interview because an employee has referred you for the job or in response to a job application or resume you have submitted for a job posting. [Read To Be Hired, Be Referred for more information about employers’ preferred hiring method.]

Often, you are invited to interview for a job based on your LinkedIn Profile or other online visibility that seems to show you are qualified for the job. [Read To Be Hired, You Must Be Found Where Recruiters Look for more information.]

Or, you may have applied for this job, and they are (finally) responding positively.

Sometimes the timing or the employer is wrong. Here’s how to reject a job interview invitation.

If You Need to Postpone the Call…

If you are able to talk with them at the moment that they call and are comfortable talking with them (mentally ready, having your calendar available, and the ability to take notes), accept the call.

To postpone the discussion until a better time for you to talk with them, follow these steps.

1. Thank them for calling you.

2. Indicate that this is not a good time for you to talk with them.

Most of us handle this situation best with a few minutes to get mentally prepared for it.

When you discover the call is to schedule a job interview that you are not ready to manage, simply say, “Sorry, this is not a good time to talk with you.” 

No need to give a reason, just ask to reschedule the call to a better time for you — maybe in 15 minutes, maybe later in the day. Don’t expect them to wait more than one day. Typically, the reason that they call (vs. email) is because they are in a rush.

3. Then, ask them to call you back at a time when you will be able to talk. Be sure you are available to talk with them then!

Usually, when they call you, they are in a hurry trying to arrange several schedules and possibly interviews with more than one person for more than one job candidate. Taking their call as soon as possible demonstrates your interest in the opportunity.

4 Steps When You ARE Ready to Talk About Scheduling the Job Interview

At the appointed time, put on your best smile (seriously!) and most positive attitude, and call them (or accept their call). Be sure to have your calendar ready and the ability to take notes.

1. Thank them for their interest.

2. Collect information for the interview.

You need to know as much information as possible so you can be well-prepared for the interview. The first interview may simply be a “phone screen” interview which determines whether or not you are invited to an in-person interview.

[For more information about phone interviews, read Please Help Me Ace My Phone Interview.]

Hopefully, they are scheduling an in-person interview at a recruiter’s office (if an external recruiter has contacted you) or the employer’s location.

Ask for as many details about the job interview as possible, like:

  • Employer
  • Date and time of the interview. Mid-morning seems to be the best time for job interviews according to recent studies. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, if possible.
  • Location for the interview. If appropriate, ask about parking and/or rapid transit connections.
  • The name of your contact for the interview process, before and after. You want both an email address and a phone number.
  • Job  details
    • Job title
    • Location of the job.
    • Duties and responsibilities.
    • Job requirements.
  • The kind of interview process they will use. Will the interview be a  “phone screen” rather than in person. If in person, will it be a “panel” interview where several people will ask you questions in the same interview, or will you speak with each person separately?
  • Name and job title of each person who will be interviewing you. (They may not know or provide all of this information, but ask anyway.)
  • Amount of time needed so you can block off the appropriate amount of time on your calendar.

Even if the job doesn’t feel like a perfect fit for you or the employer isn’t on your list, seriously consider taking the interview anyway. You’ll gain more practice interviewing, and you might discover a great opportunity that wasn’t on your radar before.

3. End the call with a thank you, affirming your interest in the job.

When you have collected as much information as you can, thank them for the call, and tell them you are very interested in the opportunity and looking forward to the opportunity to interview for it.

4. Follow up with a confirming email to your contact.

In the email, confirm the date, time, location, and names (hopefully) of the people who will be interviewing you. See below

Send a simple message, like this:

TO: [person who called you or the name they gave for you to use for your contact]
Subject: Confirming Job Interview for [job title] on [date]

[Name of the addressee, like Mr. Jones]

As we discussed, this message confirms the job interview on [date] at [time] at [location] to speak with [names] about [job title].

I look forward to meeting you and learning more about this opportunity.

Best regards,

[your first name]

[your full name]
[current job title, if employed, or target job title, if not]
[best phone number for your job search]
[city and state]
[LinkedIn Profile URL]
[Other relevant URL’s like your blog]

They should respond with an email which confirms — or corrects — the contents of your message. If all is OK, no further messages from you are needed. If they respond with some changes/corrections or request that you reply, respond as appropriate.

Then, Prepare for the Job Interview

Now that you have an interview scheduled, focus on being well-prepared for the interview. Read How to Knock Their Socks Off in a Job Interview to be prepared.

More About Job Interviews

How to Answer Job Interview Questions

How to Answer the Top 10 Job Interview Questions

Successful Job Search Requires Research

How to Reject a Job Interview Invitation


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan also edits and publishes and is a columnist on HuffingtonPost and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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