The first conversation you will have with the human resources department at a company you want to work for will likely be over the telephone. Often there is a pre-screening phone interview to conduct before you are invited in for a face-to-face. Even if they don’t conduct a formal phone interview, there is a good chance you will speak to someone from the office to set up your interview appointment.
To make that phone call successful and create a positive first impression on potential decision makers who can impact your career, you will want to avoid committing the etiquette blunders that bother HR professionals the most.
A recent survey by 4Com revealed just what the most annoying telephone habits are. Here are the top ten:
- Having a conversation with someone else in the background while on the phone
- Interrupting the person you’re speaking to
- Not listening/being clearly distracted
- Putting them on hold
- Eating or drinking while on the phone
- Playing loud music in the background
- Speaking too quietly to be heard clearly
- Having a really bad signal
- Putting them on speakerphone
- Constantly coughing/sniffling into the phone
Somewhat ironically, while practicing poor phone etiquette with HR professionals can harm your career prospects, it turns out that the sector with the worst telephone habits, according to the survey, is actually Human Resources. The study participants found that nearly nine out of ten HR practitioners behave badly over the phone.
According to the report, the five worst professions for phone etiquette are:
- HR/recruitment – 87%
- Media/PR/marketing – 85%
- Doctor/nurse/dentist – 81%
- Lawyer – 82%
- Accounts – 77%
Bottom line. Be polite over the phone. Take calls in a quiet space where you can hear the other person clearly, pay attention to what they say, and don’t interrupt when they are speaking. If you have to cough, move the phone away from your face so that you are not coughing loudly in someone’s earpiece. Use the speakerphone function sparingly. It tends to have poorer quality sound, and many people don’t like being heard over a speaker.
In the case of a crackly connection, apologize and ask if you can call back from a landline or a location with a stronger signal.
If you know you have a telephone interview coming up, prepare for it like you would any other job interview. Here is a closer look at why employers conduct phone interviews (and how you can ace one.)