Please Don’t Put Me On HOLD!

At times I like to give career and coaching advice to this audience. Other times, I just have to RANT. This (I warn you) will be a RANT!

When you are on a phone interview, please try and remember to (ok, always) ignore any and all incoming calls. Just yesterday I took an unscheduled call from someone I didn’t know and was totally blown away by what transpired. First, she calls me out of the blue with no resume, no e-mail and no warning. That was her first mistake. I took the call and attentively listened to her job-hunt-related plight – she sounded very bright and highly qualified – just apparently lacking basic business skills and common courtesy.

She went over her background, and we were having a nice, warm conversation when I heard her phone beep, alerting her to an incoming call. “I need to put you on hold – it shouldn’t take long.”  WHAT?! Actually, IT should never have happened. How rude and inconsiderate! I wish I could say it was the first time this ever happened to me – but I can’t. It just baffles me that anyone would be so bold and just plain rude during a brief phone screening. This (by the way) was not a scheduled interview – and the chances of ever scheduling one with her are slim. Sorry. Not to be rude here <shrugs>  but I can’t help myself. I figure if she does that to me, I can only guess what might happen during an interview with one of my clients.

Just forget about incoming calls during an interview UNLESS it’s critical, and you know that before the call ever starts. Also, inform the person you are speaking with about the situation, and that you may receive an urgent call during the interview. Most people will be pretty understanding about it, while others may want to reschedule. Whatever the case may be, when they do call you back try not to put them “on hold.”


About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Great post Tim! I hope you have room on that soap box for me!
    We might as well add: “Do not check and respond to e-mail while your on the phone either?” That is rude as well, and gives the interviewer clear indication that the conversation with them is not your top priority….. YES WE CAN HEAR YOU TYPING…. Maybe we need to make Manners 101 required for job seekers!?!?

  • It really does amaze me! The candidate apparently needs a job, wants to interview and then does stupid stuff like put the search guy “on hold” or, to your point, types on their computer while talking! WOW! HELLO – IS ANYBODY HOME? I just don’t “get it”. Thanks Joe!

  • Excellent RANT! Some people are absolutely unbelievable.
    Along the same line of thought, do NOT answer or even look at your cell phone during a face to face interview. Put it on silent or turn it off.

  • So true Tim! As phone interviews are becoming more and more popular as the “first” interview for a position, I advise all of my clients to never take an incoming call or allow other interruptions during their phone interview. You definitely don’t want your lack of common courtesy to ruin your chances of landing a great job.

  • For most of us – logic prevails. For others…not so much! Go figure. Thanks Shannon and Erin!

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