How To Not Get Rejected In 60 Seconds

First impressions count, people. There. Just, there.  So in this post, I will attempt to teach the readership how not to get rejected by a recruiter in the first 60 seconds of your phone interview. I see you out there in reader-land thinking, “Nah, recruiters don’t snap to judgment like that. They are very interested in my skills.” Nope, not true. I’m being kind with 60 seconds. I’ve rejected someone in 10 seconds, because, how you answer the phone matters!

Here is a list of unacceptable ways to answer the phone:


“Hey, girl.”


The gruff cough hello – “hack!allo.” Think of the way Jack Nicholson answers the phone in the contemporary classic film As Good as it Gets. Side bar, that’s a great movie.

All of these terrible examples have happened to me in my recruiting career and oddly enough, the gruff cough hello and the “yeah” happened to me and a recruiter colleague of mine respectively in the same day, yesterday. How can this be? Part of me can’t believe I’m writing this post because I’m utterly appalled that many cannot answer their phones professionally. Just on YouTube alone, there are 1,900 search results for “answering the phone professionally.”

So, here’s how to answer the phone. First and especially if you are expecting a call from a recruiter is answer the phone in a pleasant way and state your name, “Hi, this is Cassie.” If you aren’t expecting a call, still use a professional and upbeat tone in your, “Hello?” What if your boss is calling you? Or the hiring manager of the new job you really, really want? You just never know, so play it safe. Here’s a good supporting clip on the etiquette of receiving calls.

Next, be professional when answering a recruiter’s initial questions. Don’t tell them about dreading your mother-in-law’s visit this weekend and if the recruiter asks, “Is this still a good time for you?” and it is, say, “Yes, absolutely,” not, “uh, yeah, I guess.” If it’s no longer a good time, just say so and ask to reschedule. Most recruiters out there understand scheduling challenges and would be happy to accommodate rescheduling a call.

Remember the advice that showing up to a job interview in a business suit is the best way to make a first impression? Well, answering the phone and initial questions professionally is the way to make a good first impression in a phone interview. If a candidate can’t answer the phone correctly when I’m calling, why would I ever risk moving that person forward in the interview process and risk a “whazzup?” happening to my client?

About the author


Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.


  • The way people answer the phone ranks right up there with their voice mail message and choice of ring-back tone… but you forgot my favorite:


  • Cassie, as a recruiter of sorts myself, I could go on with horror stories on interviewing.

    I am truly appalled by our society today and what they believe is acceptable when they are looking for a job.

    Is there nothing that helps teach people in high school or college level on how to go about having a good interview?

    I would rather work a position at my restaurant than give it to someone who can’t even present themselves properly.

  • All I can say is . . . RIGHT???! It’s frustrating to see a lack of pose and professionalism out there. However, the good ones are still out there and I’m looking for ’em! 😉

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