‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I got an unexpected call from a potential employer, and the recruiter asked if she could interview me on the spot. I was caught off guard and said, “Yes,” but as a result, I think I botched the interview, since I’ve never heard back. What should I do next time this happens? — Annette
J.T.: I advise my clients to always be ready for a phone screen, starting the day you submit an application; after all, you just never know when a recruiter might call. In the event that you aren’t prepared, you have to quickly evaluate your options: You can wing it and hope you do well; or you can ask to reschedule, but risk the recruiter moving on to other candidates.
Dale: And that’s not the only risk. If you’re the one approaching companies, you’re selling yourself, which makes you a salesperson with one product. So picture this: You run into a guy who’s a car salesman, say it’s Hondas. You tell him, “I’m in the market for a Honda. Let me ask a few questions.” What would you think if the guy said, “I need to get my thoughts together. Let me get back to you.” Is that someone you’d want to buy a Honda from? Of course not. You want him to be someone who loves Hondas and is eager to help you fill your need — someone full of questions and answers. That’s why you should be doing mock interviews and be ready to zing away with both.
J.T.: I get your point, but there’s one exception to zinging. If you don’t feel you know enough about the company, tell the recruiter you have an appointment and ask if you could call him or her in an hour. This will at least buy you some time to prep and hopefully still keep you in the running.
Dale: Then again, questions are the answer. You just say, “I’ve been impressed by your company and I made notes, but I don’t have them with me. Would you rather I called you back or that we just press ahead?” They’ll choose the latter, but by asking the question, you’ve scored points before the interview even starts.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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