Secrets to Scheduling an Interview

If you’re on the job hunt, you know how exciting it can be to receive a call from a recruiter who wants to set up an in-person interview with you. As with any facet of your job search, you want to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward and appearing as a complete professional.

Other candidates are your biggest competition, but you can create obstacles for yourself without even realizing it! So, how do you guarantee that you’re giving yourself a helping hand? We’ve created a helpful guide for what to do when scheduling an interview below.

Do this:

  • Schedule an interview as soon as possible.
  • Respond to emails from recruiters before the end of the business day.
  • Stop screening your calls! Answer unknown numbers.
  • Make time in your schedule, even if it’s inconvenient.

Your goal as a job-seeker should be to get in for an interview ASAP. An interview is a major step towards an offer of employment, and you won’t do yourself any favors if you schedule your meeting weeks or months in advance.

Let’s say you’re really interested in a job but your schedule is jam-packed for the next week… It can be tempting to ask if you can come in and interview at a later date. If you can avoid this, you should! Recruiters often have deadlines for when their open positions need to be filled by, so you’ll need to work off of their timeline if you want the job. While they might schedule you for later on, you run the risk that one of the candidates they screen in the interim will be offered the position before you even set foot in the building for your interview.

Pro-tip: Don’t give them the chance to choose someone else! Try and schedule an interview on the first day that the recruiter is available.

When to Schedule

If possible, offer to come in and meet with the hiring team within a three-day timeframe. Did you receive a call early in the day? Ask if they’d like to meet with you later that afternoon or the next day. As a candidate, you want to seem eager, interested, and accommodating. The company has something that you want (a job), so you’ll need to work around their availability. If your personal schedule is tight and you simply can’t make it in that fast, try and take one of the first appointments that the recruiter offers.

If you’re having trouble scheduling a convenient time and nothing seems to be working out, it’s easy for the recruiter to write you off as uninterested in the opportunity, unaccommodating, or difficult to work with. It’s important to remember that you’re most likely not the only person that has applied for the job, and while you might be the best person for it, you have to prove that to the company.

Scheduling an interview more than a week in the future will give the impression that you’re uninterested and not looking to make a change in your employment any time soon. (Obviously, this isn’t applicable if the company’s not looking to interview any time soon.) However, when you’re on the hunt for a new job, understand that you’re going to need to make room in your schedule to interview on short notice. If you’re restricted by your current position’s hours of operation, try and plan multiple interviews on the same day in order to lessen the number of days you’ll be out of the office.

Some companies will designate specific days for interviews. During this time period, recruiters will set up as many interviews as possible for a single position and make a hiring decision from the candidates that they spoke with. Candidates who were unavailable during this period are simply not considered. Often, this is a hiring tactic used for entry-level or high turnover positions.

If you are asked to set up an interview during a specific range of days, do your best to be there. You won’t often get the chance to reschedule since the hiring manager is looking to make a decision by a certain date and will most likely choose the best candidate from the group they interviewed.

Pro-tip: While you’re job hunting, create a professional email address and link the account to your phone. Turn on notifications for your inbox to ensure that you don’t miss any interview requests.

Here’s some insight into the day of an actual recruiter: If they’re trying to fill more than one open position, they’ll begin by screening applicants. The obvious “no’s” are discarded, and a short list of potentials is created, broken up into “yes’s” and “maybe’s.” They’ll start off at the top of the “yes” list, calling each candidate and either conducting or scheduling a phone interview, or leaving a voicemail.

Once they’ve reached the end of their “yes” list, they’ll start on the “maybe’s.” Often, when candidates don’t answer the phone, the recruiter will send a follow-up email asking the candidate to return their call. Because the search for quality candidates is fast-paced, it’s in your best interest to make yourself available when that initial call comes in.

If you’ve ever missed a call from a recruiter, listened to their voicemail and given them a call back immediately, only to reach their voicemail, it’s probably not because they wanted to give you a taste of your own medicine. Due to the fast-paced nature of recruiting, the time it took you to return their call was long enough for them to dial the next candidate on their list and start conducting a phone interview. Leave a professional voicemail and they’ll call you back.

When you reach back out to a recruiter, you want to make sure your response gives them all the information they need to know exactly who you are. Remember that it may be a few hours before they have a chance to listen to your voicemail, so a simple, “Hey, this is Jenny returning your call. Bye!” won’t cut it. Your message should include your full name, what position you were called about, your phone number, and a good time (or two) to call you back.

If you receive an email inviting you to set up a time for a call or interview, try to respond before the end of the business day, or within 24 hours (at the most). Time is against you when you’re job seeking – you don’t want to give the recruiter the chance to choose another candidate. Taking too long to respond could cause you to lose the opportunity.

Pro-tip: Recruiting moves on a different timeline than you’re used to. Make an effort to be available when an opportunity comes knocking!

It can be a pain to rework your schedule to accommodate the interview schedules of multiple companies, but your efforts will pay off in the end. You’re job hunting because you want a change in your life, so shake things up a little and make extra time for interviews in your regular routine! Once you’ve found a position with a new organization, you’ll hardly remember that you were inconvenienced for a few weeks.

As with every aspect of your job search, timing is important. Try your hardest to be prompt when responding to recruiters and keep a positive attitude about your search. If you’re looking for more interview tips and tricks, we’ve got them for you!

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