company scheduled a phone interview by telling me to be available “the next couple of days”

A reader writes:

A company scheduled a phone interview with me by sending an email saying this: “Thank you for your interest in our company. We have received your resume for the above open position. As part of our hiring process, our interview panel will be calling you during the next couple of days. We request you to keep your mobiles/phone available to be prepared to take the phone call.”

I waited patiently for that call, but I did not get a call from them. Now I want to send an email asking for asking status of my resume and application. How do I do that?

First, it’s unreasonable for them to send you an email asking you to remain by your phone and available for their call for the next couple of days.

There’s a reason people schedule meetings and phone calls. It’s because people have other things going on in their lives. What if you’re in the shower, or eating dinner, or meeting with another employer, or sleeping, or kicking ass at Guitar Hero? What if you’re on a work call, or at a movie, or talking to your boss, or just settled in to relax in your damn hammock?

Their email was rude. It says “We want to talk to you, but it’s going to be so very much at our own convenience that we’re not even willing to commit to a time — but we want you to wait for the call to come in for days.”

And then to not even call you?

If you want to work with jackasses — and I understand that you might not have the luxury of choice in that matter — you can certainly send them an email saying something like this: “I didn’t hear from your interview panel this week, but I’m eager to talk with you about the __ role. Is there a time we might speak next week?”

But wow, they’re rude.

{ 59 comments… read them below }

  1. Hlyssande

    Holy crap, that’s hella rude.

    I just can’t even fathom what would make someone think this is a good idea.

  2. Brett

    I know of major Silicon Valley companies who do this…
    or worse, ambush you with a phone interview without warning.

    I _think_ their thinking is that they are calling to do a technical interview (although you are not told that ahead of time either), so by ambushing you, you do not get a chance to set up ways to cheat.

    1. Stephanie

      I interviewed with a major Silicon Valley company–even they scheduled their phone interviews!

      Now on the other hand, the in-person interview scheduling was an absolute cluserf*ck, but we were still at least aiming for a half-day set time versus a “have two days open to show up on a whim.”

    2. Elysian

      Ugh what a horrible practice. I’ve also heard of Silicon Valley doing lots of interviews where you don’t know you’re being interviewed… They’re apparently just too cool to hire in the “traditional” way where you… you know… let the other person know you’re interviewing them. (See http://carlos.bueno.org/2014/06/mirrortocracy.html)

    3. Tandem

      Interesting. I’ve worked for many of the big names you think of when someone says “Silicon Valley” and I’ve neither encountered that nor even heard someone mention it. This is all anonymous, so do you mind saying which specific companies do that so I can avoid them???

      1. Mints

        Yeah, I’ve applied for some big names and some start ups, and this has never happened to me.
        Occasionally recruiters will send an email and tell me “Call at your earliest convenience” (without scheduling) but that’s usually more informal, and I can choose the time
        Maybe it’s only specific positions?

      2. Brett

        This specifically happened to me with a Google Earth interview…
        but I have also heard that they abandoned this practice at some point in the last couple of years. I have current co-workers who experienced the same with Google and Apple.

    4. Judy

      Oh, tell me about it.

      I’m in the restaurant business and I’ve seen some high end, fancy, expensive restaurants
      do this as well. They ask for a date that might suit me for an interview date and when I emailed/told them,
      no answer. No call backs. Nothing. They could have at least told me that they filled in the position, right?

      If they are that disorganized and rude, I don’t want to work for them, even if it’s a Michelin rated
      restaurant.

  3. Katie the Fed

    If you can’t treat people with basic respect, you shouldn’t be in a managerial or HR position. Geez.

    1. BTownGirl

      Honestly, I would be so tempted to respond to a missed call from these fools with an email reading simply:

      “Sorry I missed you. I was on the toilet.”

  4. Observer

    Not only rude, but incredibly stupid. Never mind the fact that they have just cut their chances of getting really topnotch talent to close to zero. But, even someone who is willing and able to cut out all extraneous things like other interviews, etc. is not going to be able to stay in suspended animation for a few days, which means that your odds of actually having a useful interview has also gone down the tubes.

  5. Anon Accountant

    This just sounds like it’d potentially chase off superstar candidates who had other options and would decide they won’t tolerate games like this.

    1. Stephanie

      “Hi, this is [HR rep] from Teapots Ltd. Is this still a good time to chat about the analyst position?”
      “Oooh, I can’t. I’m playing Guitar Hero and the solo from ‘Freebird’ is about to come up. Need to concentrate.”

      1. JMegan

        I once had someone call to schedule an interview, and my first thought was “But they’re about to do the Showcase Showdown on the Price is Right!”

        I took the call, and the job. Probably the better choice, even if I never did find out who won the boat.

  6. Ash (the other one!)

    At least they provided some notice? Yea, rude not to call after that but I’ve had now three HR people call to do an initial phone screening with no a priori scheduling. It usually is okay, but often catches me off guard.

    1. some1

      Yeah, I don’t have a problem with employers who call for a spontaneous phone interview, but the first question should be, “Do you have X minutes to talk right now?” and the employer should be not at all put off if you say no.

    2. OfficePrincess

      I once got a surprise phone screen at 9:30 on a Friday night. I was half asleep on the couch with a fair bit of wine in me and had no idea which job I was interviewing for. Apparently I did well, because he brought me in for an interview, but that was even more of a hot mess. So glad I didn’t get an offer because I was desperate enough to have taken it.

    3. Mimmy

      Ugh I remember when I was searching for my first post-college job, I felt like I *had* to be ready at a moment’s notice to take a call from a perspective employer! Older and wiser, I now know that you should never have to feel like you have to get into a conversation *right now* if you are not ready.

  7. Lore

    Also, if you have a job and have anything other than a private office, it’s not practical to a) leave your ringer on and certainly b) take a call *interviewing for another job* at your desk.

    1. Audiophile

      Exactly. Can you imagine?
      “Sorry, boss. I have to take this call from a potential employer. Be right back. Love working with you, seriously.”

      *boss gives side eye *

      1. Stephanie

        Haha, or a last minute doctor’s appointment.

        “Oh hey, boss. I need to go to a doctor’s appointment.”
        “When?”
        *Looks at ringing phone*
        “Uh, now.”

    2. Anonsie

      And even then, plenty of large office buildings don’t even get cell phone reception inside.

      1. L McD

        Hell, plenty of buildings don’t, period. I get no reception in my place, and I primarily use my home phone because of it, but it’s clear that lot of my neighbors just deal with it by taking all of their calls outside. Or, you know, God forbid you’re picking up some groceries in one of the big box stores with thick concrete walls. Or you had to restart your phone. Or…

  8. Kay

    Maybe I’m the only one, but while I see the potential for rude, I almost saw this as a form letter that gets sent out to everyone who applies, one that was written by someone utterly incompetent and doesn’t realize what they’re asking of their applicants.

    I absolutely agree that it comes off rude and disrespectful, but I think it could be a mistake rather than intentional rudeness.

    1. Clinical Social Worker

      The form letter could easily say “We will contact you in the next few days to schedule a phone interview.” Much more clear what they expect and not rude.

      1. Kay

        I don’t disagree. I’m just assuming incompetence before I assume willful disregard of all applicants’ time.

        1. This is me

          “I’m just assuming incompetence before I assume willful disregard of all applicants’ time.”

          In this case it’s pretty much the same thing, no?

          1. Kay

            I think what makes the difference is “willful”.

            Someone who is incompetent or made a mistake is not purposefully wasting applicants’ time. She may not even be aware how the wording comes across.

            Someone who is willfully being rude and purposefully worded the email to keep people sitting by the phone for 2 days is inexcusably rude. We don’t know which situation is the case.

        2. Puddin

          I think that many times being incompetent is rude. A co-worker’s or interviewers inability to do his or her job well and properly should not become my problem to resolve unless I am that person’s manager.

    2. Laura

      It could be a mistake, but it’s still highly rude. They do say the interview panel will be contacting the person, so if they send it to *every* applicant, not just the ones they will be calling, it’s a lie, not just rude.

      That said, it’s entirely possible that if their interview team is calling people at will, they may have not gotten to everyone intended – they could just be behind schedule.

      I’m just thinking of the average two days in my life – if we assume week days, they’d have a 4/5 chance of catching me on a work day. In which case I’d guess they have a 50% chance of my being available. The rest of the time I’m in a meeting, working/talking with a coworker, on the phone with a client, etc. If we assume they are calling starting early in the morning and into the evening, the ratio is worse – because those times are full of commuting and taking care of my young children.

      That’s okay. Not only do I love my job, but if I were contemplating leaving it, this kind of scheduling process would immediately drop that company from the list.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Yes, unless this is a position with a very low applicant rate, there is little chance they will actually interview everyone who applies.

        (And if actually was a position with a very low applicant rate, I wonder if it would be the type of place with an application system and autoresponder. When I’ve run across those positions, they’re usually the ones where you email your resume to Jane @ company . com.)

    3. Observer

      Well, if it IS incompetence, it’s at such a monumental level that Allison’s description still holds. And I would really, really wonder what working there would be like? A week to get clearance to use the bathroom? Or maybe bathroom monitors? (Consider this company’s policy: http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/15/smallbusiness/bathroom-time-penalty/ SOMEONE there thought it’s a good idea.) Who cares if they are doing it because they are stupid vs mean? It’s still going to be an insane environment.

  9. John

    It’s a power thing. The employer thinks that the best employees are those who hop to and this is how they test for this as well as set the tone (we have all the power, my dear, lest you think otherwise).

    Following that thinking to its logical conclusion, they will have zero respect for personal boundaries.

  10. LouG

    Oh, I would have been so stressed and unbearable to be around that week waiting for the phone to ring at any second.

  11. Levois

    They should’ve just sent an e-mail requesting a good time to interview or if I wasn’t available leave a voicemail on the phone so that I can call back. This wasn’t good business anyway.

  12. Jamie

    “Thanks for your application. We’d like to speak with you, but in order to make sure you’re a good fit for us for the next several days we’re going to need you t be at the ready to answer your phone at a moment’s notice.
    This will show us you have the ability to:

    1. Eat fast – and judgement to choose foods that doesn’t require that time waster chewing.

    2. Take care of your bodily functions quickly and efficiently – and silently should we call before you are done.

    3. Board any dogs or loud cats in a kennel so as to control background noise – ditto small children or spouses who speak in their own homes before checking first to see if you’re on the phone.

    4. Suspend any plans, work, or errands because doing so will show us you’re just the kind of employee we’re looking for – able to put up with rude and intrusive requests without complaint.

    Seriously though, if they can’t schedule a specific time I wouldn’t consider it a phone interview.

    1. Puddin

      When you break it down like that it really points out how inconvenient and presumptuous the time frame – or lack thereof – really is. Nicely done :)

    2. Jennifer O

      I love this list – but who are you and what have you done with Jamie? I thought the real Jamie always lists three and exactly three things…

      1. Jamie

        Ha – that’s only when listing logical reasons something could have happened – other lists can be any number up through 5 and after that preferably in increments of 5. :)

        One of these days I need to write a rule book.

      2. Carpe Librarium

        Then shalt thou count to three. No more, no less.
        *Three* shall be the number of the counting, and the number of the counting shall be three.
        *Four* shalt thou not count, and neither count thou two, excepting that thou then goest on to three.
        Five is RIGHT OUT.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Wait. So I have to board at the kennel IF they speak before checking the phone situation?
      This is complex.

  13. Clever Name

    I once got an email from a company asking if I could do a phone interview on X day and time. I was scheduled to be in the field that day, so I said I was unavailable, and listed alternate available times.

    I never even got a response. Later, after I started a new job with a different company, a coworker of mine told me the company that did that was an awful company to work for, and it was basically a revolving door of employees.

    I think you dodged a bullet here.

  14. Mena

    These people are doing you a HUGE favor by telling you a lot about their culture and expectations, not to mention how they treat people. Please listen to the message …

    1. Totally Normal Person

      Agreed. After some of the employment experiences I’ve had I almost pray for the rudest, most incompetently handled interview processes possible so it is very clear to me to not take a job with that employer. Of course, I want good interviews as well, but I really like it when they just go all out with the rude/incompetent factor, that way I don’t have to wonder about it and can just move on.

  15. Leah

    That is beyond rude. Maybe I’m skewed because because I’ve come across a few of them recently, but I wonder if there was some sort of scam involved and they roped enough dopes they didn’t call OP.

    I’m not a fan of phone interviews, despite their efficiency.I would much rather have to spend the time primping and travelling to see my interviewer than have to gauge everything from tone of voice. I once had an interviewer call me an hour EARLY. I had just sprinted up two flights of stairs to get some things done before she’d called and also had gotten my metal-loving flatmate to headbang with headphones during the hour I was supposed to interview. I was super annoyed and I feared that it came across in the interview but they loved me and I loved working for them.

    1. Mints

      Oh, tie-in to the MLM/pyramid scheme thread last week? The first thirty warm bodies who agree to be salespeople get hired?
      OP dodged a bullet, regardless

  16. De (Germany)

    So what, they expect you to take a phone interview at your desk at work? Tell them you are not allowed to bring your cell phone into work and thus need to leave the office to take a personal call.

    Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t lie to them. For me, that would be the truth, though. And you might be in a meeting or at someone else’s office when they call. How do they even expect this to work?

  17. L McD

    This is awful. For me, just waiting around for an important phone call is stressful enough – don’t want to take a shower, can’t get absorbed in anything, don’t want to risk wearing headphones – waiting all day for a phone INTERVIEW would probably give me a heart attack. Even if it were reasonable to assume you wouldn’t be at work, it’s super disrespectful of your time.

    Agree with Alison – if you possibly can, RUN.

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