How to Ask About a Job Vacancy over the Phone
Picking up the phone to inquire about a job vacancy can be a good way to make a strong first impression with a potential employer. This also gives you a chance to learn more about the company and even establish a rapport with the person on the other end of the phone. Prepare yourself for the call by doing your research, practicing what you plan to say, and setting yourself up for a professional and pleasant phone call.
Doing Your Research
Research the best contact at the company where you want to apply.Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, and the company website to find the hiring manager’s contact information. Also try calling the company switchboard. Frequently they will give direct numbers or extensions if you have a specific person you would like to reach.
Learn more about the company.Do your homework and learn whatever you can about the company. Find their mission statement and understand what their overriding goals are. Also look at the descriptions of current employees and of positions so you can learn more about the kinds of people they hire and what their employees’ responsibilities are.
- Use LinkedIn, the company website, and other social media for this research.
- Identify things about the company that appeal to you before you call in case you’re asked why you’re interested in working for them.
Organize your information about each company you’re researching.If you plan to reach out to multiple companies, organize your information about each company in a spreadsheet. Make the contact information most prominent, so you can easily access it. Once you start calling, include the dates of each call, the outcomes, and the person you spoke with in this spreadsheet so you can refer back to it for any follow-up.
Scripting the Call
Write down what you want to say.Start by making bullet points to cover the main things you want to say. Include the phrases you plan to use to introduce yourself, some information about your experience, and the type of position you’re seeking. If you need to write a script, use words and expressions that reflect the way you really speak so you’ll sound natural.
- Introduce yourself. Use your full name. For example: “Good morning, Ms. Smith. My name is John Doe.”
- Discuss your accomplishments if they’re pertinent to your inquiry. For example: “I am an experienced web designer and IT specialist with ten years experience, looking for new challenges.”
- Say why you’re calling. For example: “I would appreciate a minute of your time to ask about vacancies in your IT department.”
List your questions.In preparation for the call, list the questions you have about the company. For example, you might ask about the types of positions that are available in your field and the best ways to follow up with an application. Inquire about other information that the company might need from you.
- Also think of questions you think you might be asked and prepare your answers for those questions.
- For example, you may be asked why you’re applying with them, where you heard about the company, when you’d be available to interview or start work, and what salary range you’re looking for.
Practice for the call.Sit down in a quiet place with your script and list of questions and practice making the call. Try different ways to phrase things so that what you’re saying sounds natural. Time yourself to see how long it takes and try to keep your main points under a minute.
- Practice speaking clearly.
- Also practice smiling when you speak. This will help you sound more confident.
- Record yourself and listen to how you sound. Fix anything you don’t like about how you sound, like saying “um” a lot or speaking too quickly or in a monotone.
Preparing for the Call
Figure out the best time to call.Use the company’s website and your own knowledge about where you’re applying to work out the best time to call. Place your first call at the start of the workday. Try not to call during when you know will be busy times in the middle of the day. Also avoid calling during lunch.
Find a quiet space.Make your call from a quiet space where you can focus on a professional conversation. Make sure you won’t be distracted by noise on the street or in your building. If there are other people around, tell them that you need peace and quiet for a phone call and can’t be disturbed.
Prepare your space.Lay out a pen or pencil and paper for taking notes and be sure your spreadsheet with contact and company information is in front of you so you can quickly reference it. Use a landline for a clearer connection and to reduce the risk of calls or texts interrupting your call. Have a glass of water with you in case your mouth gets dry.
- Don’t put the hiring manager on hold if another call does come through.
- Aside from your water, don’t eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum during the call.
Making the Call
Take notes.During the call, record every detail you can. Include who you spoke with, their title, the time and date of the call, what they said, and what you promised you’d do for follow up. Also jot down any questions that surprised you, so you can research them and be better prepared for your next phone call.
- Put this information in your spreadsheet.
- At the end of the call, review what you said you would do and confirm the person’s contact information from your notes.
- For example, before saying thank you, say: “As promised, I’ll follow up with my resume and list of references in the next two business days.”
Be prepared to set up specific times for interviews.Don’t reply to suggested times for interviews or follow-up meetings with an unprofessional and tentative “whenever.” Directly answer about when you’re available, for example: “I am free until noon on Tuesday and Wednesday and in the afternoon on Friday.” Have your calendar open during the call to make this easier.
- Prepare for the call by figuring out your availability for the two weeks following the call.
- Don’t change appointments once you’ve made them unless you have a legitimate emergency.
Use good phone etiquette.Be polite to everyone you speak with, including administrative staff and assistants. The boss could hear about it if you’re rude. Address the person you’re calling as “Mr.” or “Ms.” unless they tell you otherwise. Listen attentively when they speak and don’t interrupt. At the end of the call thank them for their time and attention, even if you aren’t successful.
- Preface your phone call by asking if the person has a few minutes to speak with you. If not, offer to call back later and ask the best time to do so.
Send a thank you.Write the person you spoke with a formal email to thank them for speaking with you. Send this the same day you make your phone call. Don’t delay sending the thank you by more than one day after the call. Unless you’ve been told not to pursue a job with the company, attach your resume and a tailored cover letter with information you learned from the phone call.
Sources and Citations
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