Picture this: Your phone starts to make a weird noise. It's not your Whatsapp alert, nor is it the familiar ring of a Snapchat arriving... it's an incoming call (wtf?!) from an unknown number (how did you find me??)... So what do you do?
- It could be a cold-caller
- It could be your bank/estate agent/landlord/bill company
- It could be a recruiter
- It could be an employer
- It could be a wrong number
But what if it's not one of those? How can you even tell?
You're probably job-hunting if reading this, so why on earth would you NOT assume an unknown number will be job-related?
It is this reason why we need to go back to basics, because effectively answering the phone is clearly a problem.
A Graduate's Guide to answering the phone:
1. Make a good first impressionAlways assume an unknown number is a professional call. You literally have nothing to lose if you do so.
- "Hi, this is ___ speaking"
- "Hello" / "Good morning/afternoon"
- Answer: "Yes/Yeah/What?"
- Say nothing
2. Actually listen"Is this Callum?"
The caller needs to ensure that they have come through to the right person. It could turn out to be a cold-call, but how will you find out unless you listen?
What to respond: "Yes, this is Callum" (in a friendly manner) - that is it.
Do not then interrupt and ask "Who is this?" or "What do you want?" because they are about to tell you. Don't be so impatient that you can't politely wait for the caller to introduce themselves, as this comes across as arrogant and rude.
If you actually didn't hear the caller, then be diplomatic in your questioning such as: "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name. May I ask where you're calling from?" - much better.
3. Do not answer the phone unless you CAN talkIf you're too busy to talk, such as on the toilet, playing FIFA or eating an apple, seriously, don't answer. Let the 'machine' catch it, then actually LISTEN to your voicemail to find out what the call was regarding. A caller with a genuine need to speak to you will leave a message with clear instructions on how to call them back. They will probably email you too. If you ignore these messages, and call back saying "Who is this?" this will come across as rude and can seriously affect your chances of employment, especially if the caller is a recruiter or an employer.
If you decide to answer the phone, pay the caller your full attention; turn the TV off, go into a quiet room and stop chatting to your mates. It's rude when people do it to you, so treat the potentially important call exactly as you'd like to be treated.
- Put the caller on hold
They will call you back if you need them to, and often they will ask if this is a good time to speak anyway, so be honest.
- Answer: "Will this take long?"
If you really can't speak, just be polite and explain so - they want to talk to you, so they will make an effort to arrange a better time to speak. But they are not mind-readers.
4. Interact!"How are you doing today?"
It's not a difficult question, but people still struggle with this one. Again, be polite: "I'm good thank you, how are you?" instead of: "Fine...*silence*...*tumbleweed*..."