Career Services

Telephone Interviewing Strategies

The telephone can be one of your most important allies in gathering information for your job search. It can also be one of your biggest obstacles if you fear rejection and/or do not know how to present yourself. To make telephoning easier and more productive, develop a script and practice it. Below are some examples that you might tailor to your personal script.

When Speaking to a Secretary:

Hello, this is Lilly Morris. May I speak with Katherine Williams?

*If contact is not in and/or the secretary asks the nature of the call, reply:

Beth Gordon suggested I call her regarding some research that I am doing in the field of _____________. When would it be convenient for me to call back?

*Assuming the secretary provides you with the information, reply:

Thank you very much. I'll call back at (restate time).

When Speaking to Your Contact:

*If you have been referred, your opening might go something like this:

Hello, this is Lilly Morris. Beth Gordon suggested that I call you regarding the possibility of setting up a brief interview with you. She tells me that you are an excellent source of information on the field. I'm interested in exploring new career options and am meeting with a small group of people for information and advice. Is it possible that we could set up a brief meeting?

*If your contact agrees, confirm the time, date, and place, and be sure to get clear directions to your meeting site. Before you meet with your contact, send him or her a letter confirming your meeting and expressing your thanks.

*If your contact does not have time or does not wish to meet with you, reply:

I appreciate your being unable to meet with me. Could you suggest someone else in your company or your field with whom I could meet?

*If you've uncovered the contact person on your own and have not been referred, your opening might go like this:

Ms. Williams, this is Lilly Morris. I am calling because (select the appropriate option):

*...of your expertise in the field of ____________________

*...of your recent promotion to ____________________

*...of your association with (professional or other relevant organization).

* are a fellow alumni/ae of ____________________


After you've opened the conversation, continue with your explanation of the purpose of your call.

*If your contact asks if you are looking for a job, be honest, but make it crystal clear that you are not contacting this person to apply for a job; the meeting is for information purposes only. Your reply might go like this:

Although I am currently applying for various positions, my meeting with you would be for informational purposes only. I hope to use your advice and suggestions in gaining additional information about the field and potentially develop leads.