I was asked to set aside four hours for a 10-15-minute phone call

A reader writes:

I received an email from a hiring manager for a customer service position requesting that I do a phone interview. However, they are expecting me to set aside an entire 4-hour window of time to be available for the phone call. I already work at a call center that is closing down, so we have permission to do whatever we need for the purposes of finding a new position for interviews, but to me this just seems like poor organization. In every phone interview I’ve ever had, even for entry-level positions, the interviewer has always set a specific time for me to be available to take their call.

Here is the email sent to me by their hiring manager:

“Greetings. You recently applied for a position with (company name). I will be conducting short screening interviews over the phone on Thursday, October 9 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Please let me know as soon as possible via email if you are available during that block of time and are able to take that interview. I am sorry but I am unable to specify the exact time I will be calling.

Also, in your response email please let me know which phone number works best for you and attach another copy of your resume. Interviews will be only 10-15 minutes in length. Please be prepared to talk about your skills as they relate to the position for which you applied.

I suggest reviewing the job posting advertisement and company website before the interview. Successful candidates will be referred to an in-person interview soon after. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Yep, that’s entirely obnoxious. There’s no reason that the interviewer can’t schedule the calls for specific times. Sure, doing that would mean that she might end up with a five or ten-minute wait between calls, especially if some ended up being shorter than planned, but that’s not exactly an onerous thing; it’s a pretty normal thing when scheduling business calls, and it’s something that most other professional people manage to deal with just fine.

This is part of a larger pattern of (some, not all) employers thinking that if something makes things mildly easier or more convenient for them, it’s worth inflicting significant inconvenience or trouble on candidates. Other examples of this include demanding your references up front so they don’t need to bother asking for them later on in the process, even though many people prefer not to supply references until they determine that they’re actually interested in the job; doing the same thing with other personal information, like Social Security numbers; calling candidates for on-the-spot phone interviews without bothering to schedule them in advance; scheduling phone interviews and then not bothering to call at all; and using incredibly onerous and error-ridden online application systems.

It’s a really bad way to operate, because good candidates have options and the best ones will be turned off and look elsewhere.

{ 110 comments… read them below }

  1. Diet Coke Addict*

    In addition to this being completely aggravating and poor practice (as is asking people to provide references up front–including one notable posting I came across that asked for references to be submitted with the application and specified that references would be called before an interview was even scheduled, which is just ridiculous)…..”Greetings?” Who starts off business emails like that? It sounds like an alien has hijacked a business computer [“Greetings, earthlings. No, I’ll take out the earthlings, then people will know I’m an alien”] or like the person forgot to substitute an actual greeting, and other parts of the email might have that too. “We look forward to speaking with you. Closing. Signature block.”

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Hmm, and I just commented in another thread that I don’t like starting a business letter with ‘Dear’ for people who are not dear to me, and thus prefer ‘Greetings’. If that makes me sound like an alien, perhaps I should reconsider.

      1. Kelly L.*

        For whatever reason, “dear” has become kind of…invisible…? in letter writing. Like using “said” with dialogue instead of using lots of circumlocutions to avoid it. Instead of thinking “Oh, I feel so cherished” when we see Dear in letters, I think our eyes kind of slide over it and our minds ignore it.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Well if you think too hard about what “dear” means and not the letter writing convention, you may not want to put it in business correspondence.

          I do use “greetings” on some emails, and I must confess it does seem somewhat stilted and pretensious even my head, but it amuses me.

        2. Taz*

          Yes — it stands out in writing when someone uses almost anything other than “said,” and “dear” does seem similar. In any case, you’re always safe using those two. (Though here it really doesn’t matter, as she’s the one with a job to fill. Though for some reason with almost all things job-hunting related, I’ve noticed it’s so easy to get hyper-focused on the side things like this…) :)

      2. BOMA*

        Honestly, “Greetings” sounds incredibly stilted and overly formal. I’m sure it’s acceptable in certain offices, but “Dear” is so commonly accepted that no one will think twice about it.

      3. dawbs*

        Does “good morning!/afternoon/day” split the difference for you guys?

        I hate ‘Dear John’ or Dear Mr. Smith–and often the things I’m sending out go to multiple recipients.
        So “hey you guys!” doesn’t work. (That and I’m not on the Electric Company)

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’d be willing to go with ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Day’. Is that good enough for business correspondence, or should I just give in and use ‘Dear’ for all my dear hiring managers, dear references, and dear colleagues?

          I know, ‘dear’ is a word with no meaning anymore, I should just give in.

          1. Sidra*

            I just say “Hello Jane” or “Good morning Jane” in emails, as do most of my colleagues. It seems normal to me, but “Dear” feels a little off except for a first communication.

        2. AnonyMouse*

          I use good morning/afternoon regularly, but for some reason good day sounds weird to me…it kind of calls to mind a haughty gentleman swishing his cape over his shoulder and saying, “I said good day, sir!” But I’m 99% sure that’s just me. :)

          1. Mints*

            This was a bit on “That 70s show” too. Fez said it in anger all the time (he was also a foreign exchange student and had some English language quirks)
            “Good morning”/”Good afternoon” are probably the most neutral slightly formal, and “Hi” for informal

        3. kac*

          I like “Good morning/afternoon!” but if I’m honest I just use “Hello” most of the time. (Or “Hi” if it’s internal, much to the aggravation of my former boss who was a Brit.)

      4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I am exactly the same way… I only use it under duress (aka, when I’m writing a rare piece of official correspondence for my job, and I see that all the other related correspondence starts with Dear).

    2. Lily in NYC*

      She probably used email blast software to email all of the candidates at once. The default salutation in the software is usually “Greetings” when you don’t format the email to write Dear First Name.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      “Greetings” – isn’t that how the Selective Service began a Draft Notice?

      I have a friend who uses “Friendly greetings!” – but it might be something that works for him but not necessarily for anyone else.

        1. Phyllis*

          That makes me think of “Fancy Ketchup, Catsup”. Have you ever seen “plain” ketchup? LOL!!!

      1. oliviacw*

        Yes. I once supervised someone who began all of her emails with “Greetings”. Unfortunately, she also worked closely with a group of people who were of an age to be all too familiar with draft notices from the 1960s and 1970s – I eventually received a request that she modify her salutations.

    4. KimmieSue*

      I use “Greetings” all the time. I never knew it rubbed people. I’m keeping that in mind going forward!

      1. Cat*

        I use “Greetings” all the time also. Didn’t realize people would find me alien or pretentious.

  2. Dan*

    “It’s a really bad way to operate, because good candidates have options and the best ones will be turned off and look elsewhere.”

    Assume this other axiom is true: “It’s easier to get a job when you have a job.” That means the most desirable candidates already have a job.

    And guess what? When I have a job, I’m not willing to jump through too many hoops to find a new job, unless I’m desperate.

    So as AAM says, employers with unreasonable hoops are stuck with the worst candidates, or what may be perceived as the worst candidates.

    1. Your gut*

      Yeah, this seems incredibly inconvenient for people who *have* a job and need to schedule to be out of the office to take a phone call, or can’t do just any time and need to take such a phone call between 12-1, usually.

      It also seems cruel to people who enjoy eating lunch around noontime or who have to coordinate after-school pick-up process (which here starts at 2 pm).

      So basically – as the previous poster said, all earthlings. They ARE aliens!

      1. Colette*

        Or people who have to go to the bathroom less than every four hours, or get antsy sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, or …

      2. Melissa*

        Even if you don’t have a job – let’s assume that you are probably job-hunting, and blocking off four hours in the middle of the workday may mean delaying other interviews or otherwise taking away time from job-hunting activities.

    2. Vicki*

      I don’t have a job and can easily be available pretty much any time between 9am and 5pm any day of the week.

      But I still want a firm appointment time because I have Other Things To Do.

    1. Juni*

      You know, the thing that’s great about call centers is that it’s the ultimate leave-work-at-work job. You can’t take it home with you. Once you’re clocked out, you’re clocked out. That’s appealing for a lot of people!

      1. Anonsie*

        I’ve never heard a call center story that didn’t involve some totally outrageous management requests, though. Why does it seem like call centers are the epicenter of this specific type of tomfoolery?

        1. Colette*

          Call centers are often measured by things like average call time or the amount of time spent taking calls, which means things like bathroom breaks or spending a lot of time with one customer cut into their productivity measurements. You get what you measure.

          1. Taz*

            This. I once posted about this elsewhere — that once you’re clocked in, literally every second of your time is tracked electronically (you’re on the phone for 23.25 minutes with one customer who has called the call center twice before in the past month hitting the same keys indicating the same problem, you made zero sales on that call, you took a 5.34 minute bathroom break, etc.). A guy responding thought I was insane, saying people don’t work in such conditions, this isn’t Orwell’s 1984. But it’s very much how the “productivity” of people working in call centers or in Amazon warehouses etc. is measured, having almost nothing to do with anything like doing your job right the first time and getting the customer what he/she wants.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          What Colette said, combined with the fact that many call centers “rent” their employees to other corporations… so, one call center might have customer service for Sprint, Comcast, DirecTV, and a company taking surveys about higher education. Companies looking to hire a call center often use the stats Colette cites as data when determining who to hire, what to pay, and what level of productivity to write into the contract.

          1. Anonsie*

            Companies looking to hire a call center often use the stats Colette cites as data when determining who to hire, what to pay, and what level of productivity to write into the contract.

            AHA! That’s the missing piece.

      2. Joey*

        That’s pretty much all nonexempt jobs. I can’t really think of a whole lot of positives to call centers except that many pay above min wage and they aren’t dangerous

        1. Stephanie*

          It’s office work, albeit menial office work, but if you’re trying to jump from service or physical labor, you could show you’re somewhat familiar with office norms.

        2. Elsajeni*

          You’re indoors, you’re sitting down, you don’t come home smelling like the fryer? Within the category of “jobs you can get without a degree or much/any work experience,” that’s a pretty good deal.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Having done both, I’d rather smell like the fryer. Call center work messed with my psyche more.

        3. Anonsie*

          That’s pretty much all nonexempt jobs.

          I really disagree with you there. For a current example, most of the staff at the academic medical center I’m at are nonexempt– people who coordinate care for complex patients and run clinical trials and try to keep the clinics and operating rooms running and try to get care for un/underinsured families and deal with bioethics or palliative care… We are mostly non-exempt and I guarantee you that stuff is still on our minds when we’re at home.

    2. JCC*

      Maybe it’s a test — if you can’t put up with your interviewer being unreasonable and self-centered, how will you put up with an endless stream of unreasonable and self-centered callers? :-)

  3. OriginalYup*

    You could push back by replying that you’re very interested but only available between 11 and 1. This could cause them to say no thanks altogether, but it would help minimize the inconvenience on your side if it works. (And assuming that you’re willing/able to push back.)

    1. James M*

      I see no reason for OP to try to “meet then halfway” by offering a 2-hour window (still ridiculous, imho). Suppose OP replied with something like “I will be available during my lunch break between 12:30 and 1:00 pm”. That would push back on the ludicrous 4-hour window without sounding just as snooty, and it implies very reasonable grounds for doing so.

        1. Mephyle*

          Not really, in my view. To me, the two time windows being suggested (30 min. vs. 2 hr) are reasonable and unreasonable, respectively.

          1. OriginalYup*

            Ah, I see. You & JamesM are looking at the actual window that would inconvenience the OP, I was only looking at the act of pushing back on an presumptuous request. If I were really interested in the position, I’d probably be willing to agree to a 2 hour window for an initial phone screen (while mentally docking the employer several rudeness points) but I can see where that’s way too broad for a typical work day window.

            1. OP*

              To me it just made me feel like they were really disorganized, which I felt confirmed by the nature of the phone interviewer. The questions felt rushed. and sounded like she was remembering what to ask me on the spot, especially later in the interview towards the end. If it were not for the high pay of this job I’d probably just walk away now, but I’m willing to see it through to an in person interview, which may happen sometime later today. Oh! And the interviewer asked me if I had a smartphone to receive email. That tells me she probably won’t send it until right before it’s about to happen.

              1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

                Are you sure you want to work there? I am with you in going through with the in person interview. But be prepared. Be prepared to ask the right questions. Try to find out if they really are disorganized and other red flags. And trust your gut instinct, because pay isn’t everything!

                1. OP*

                  We shall see. I have a list of questions I’d like to ask, and on the look out for those red flags for sure.

  4. Adam*

    The description makes me think they’re mass calling people for a number of positions and are just winging it on times, but that frankly is still rather obnoxious. It pokes the “we have something you want (a job)” nerve just a bit.

  5. Lamb*

    Definitely had an employer do that to me. He asked about times I’d be available, I listed two hour windows for two consecutive days. He comes back that he’ll call during one of those times.
    I wrote back asking to narrow it down so I could schedule my break for then, and he said he’d try for the first day. Try.

  6. University Allison*

    At least they’re giving you a time frame. I got a call from a Fortune 500 company at 6:30pm, while on the bus with no warning. This was the 2nd time I’d thrown my hat in the ring with them, and I believe* that I had missed a previous call — unknown number + bad timing meant I didn’t answer. The hiring manager didn’t leave a voicemail –> opportunity lost.

    *I’m basing this off the area code of the call and putting 2 and 2 together later. My demographics (woman in a STEM field) and education meant that I virtually expected a call back, no matter how bad my cover letter might have been at the time. It was actually a red flag — I got a similar treatment at the interview. I could barely control my facial features to not react to some of their crap.

    1. some1*

      Yeah, typically it’s a good idea to answer unknown numbers when you are job searching, and that’s what I do, but I don’t want to work for someone who is going to pass me over because I didn’t answer their spontaneous call.

      1. Stephanie*


        What if you’re driving, at the gym, sleeping (I’ve gotten 6 am phone calls for cross-country jobs), cooking, or doing any innumerable number of things that would keep you from answering your phone right then?

        1. KellyK*

          Yep. My general rule of thumb is that if you can’t be bothered to leave a message, I can’t be bothered to call you back.

  7. Anx*

    “It’s a really bad way to operate, because good candidates have options and the best ones will be turned off and look elsewhere.”

    And even not-good candidates (are unattractive candidates) have their days when it’s just too much hoop-jumping. And they may be fantastic workers looking for their big break. I found the hiring process so incredibly discouraging that I would take weeks ‘off’ where I wouldn’t aggressively job search because I was so embarrassed to keep coming back to my references with elaborate surveys for them to fill out while I was unemployed. If the plight of the unemployed is not your concern as a hiring manager, think about this coming back to bite you when a former employee is asking you to fill out reference surveys for position after position.

    1. some1*

      What industry are you in? I’ve only ever had to provide the names of my references and contact info. If my references are asked to fill out a questionnaire, it comes from the company, not me.

    2. Adam*

      Were you applying to jobs in childcare or the C.I.A.? If employers made my references fill out surveys I’d be sending the poor references thank you gift cards.

  8. some1*

    Yeah, this is bs. Candidates are expected to treat phone interviews as seriously as in-person interviews. (Being prepared, having a quiet place to talk without distractions, etc). You wouldn’t expect a candidate to come in and sit around for four hours. And how is someone who’s employed but job searching on the DL supposed to handle this.

    Regarding asking for references at the application stage, not only is it premature, but it sucks to be filling out this long application and then you have to stop and look up the contact info for your references.

  9. OP*

    It’s a really bad way to operate, because good candidates have options and the best ones will be turned off and look elsewhere.

    And thank God for you and your resume/cover letter advice Alison because I’ve been following it, and this is only one out of four job interviews I have had this week, so despite my current company closing our call center here, I am a candidate with options!

    To update how this has turned out so far. I responded by stating I could be avaialble, but since I work in a call center I may not be able to answer, but I can see that someone has called me, and that I would be able to call back within a 1-3 minute window.

    The moment I suggested this, I thought it was a bad idea and I should have just said that I was unavailable and to see if we could do another time. The manager emailed me back ten minutes after 11:00am Pacific telling me it’s a great idea and she’d call me right now. I called her back and we had that 15 minute interview which she really rushed me through, and frankly I thought I did horrible on but then it ended with her asking me if I was available later that day to come in for an in person interview, so we’ll see!

    1. Your gut*

      Very good response – explaining your limitations and offering another viable option! Very impressive! Good luck.

  10. Mouse of Evil*

    Alison, I love your list of annoyances. You’ve hit on nearly all the things I hate about modern job searching. I hate having to give references up front and notify all my references, who as far as I can tell are never actually called anyway. I hate giving my SSN and permission to run a background check before they’ve even committed to interviewing me. I hate unscheduled phone interviews (which is why I never answer the phone if it’s an unfamiliar number). And I really, really hate online application systems, although today I’m filling one out that’s not too awful. All one page, lets you save whenever you want to instead of having to actually log out in order to save, no nonsensical required fields (even salaries and employer phone numbers are optional–the only required fields are name, address, titles, and other things that actually make sense). You can upload documents or cut and paste them. It’s like it was designed by people who have actually applied for jobs before! Imagine!

    My biggest beef today is finding out via the Internet that I didn’t get a job before I’m notified. That happened to my husband last year (the employer actually issued a press release about their new employee that I saw reposted on three blogs before he got a fairly curt rejection email more than a week later), and today someone I recently interviewed with published a NEW call for candidates for the job I interviewed for. Which I suppose doesn’t mean I’m totally out of the running, but it’s not exactly reassuring either.

    1. OP*

      I had not mentioned this before, but it just hit me reading this. This job application requested I submit references with my application as well.

      1. Traveler*

        I personally don’t give contact information/phone numbers for my references. I list their names and positions and nothing else. They can have the rest when/if they contact me for an interview. I am not OK with giving out my references personal information all over the internet and if the hiring organizations aren’t comfortable with that, too bad.

    2. some1*

      Yeah, this is pretty crappy way to find out you didn’t get a job, and it’s even an even worse thing to do to internal candidates. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve seen coworkers never get told they were rejected for an internal promotion or transfer and only find out because they get an email announcement about the new hire, or the new hire starts.

    3. Oryx*

      I found out I didn’t get a job I interviewed for because a friend posted on Facebook that she *did* so, yeah, that’s a crappy way to find out. Especially since I never actually got any official word from them that they decided to hire someone else. After a phone and in-person interview that strikes me as really rude to not take 30 seconds to let a candidate know.

      1. Mouse of Evil*

        That *is* really rude. It would be rude even without the interviews, but after two interviews it’s inexcusable to not bother to let you know you didn’t get the job!

    4. Kate*

      I applied at a job internally and they never told me I didn’t get it. The hiring manager just brought the new person around to meet everyone.

  11. Mimmy*

    Had I not been an avid reader of this blog, I would’ve thought tactics like those AAM mentions were completely normal. I remember years ago when I was first going into the job market having it drilled into me to be ready for an employer to contact you at any time. Unfortunately, I think we’re in the minority, just based on the stories I see here and elsewhere.

    Oh, can I add one to your list Alison?: Calling and expecting you to come in for an interview the same day. This happened to me a few weeks ago (I talked about it during a Friday Open Thread). I apply at 8:20 a.m.; guy calls me roughly an hour later and wanted me to come in that day. I already had plans and had to decline. I’m actually kinda glad I didn’t go in, though, because it would’ve involved handling registrations for a large conference, which I swore to myself I’d never do again after a temp gig in 2010.

    1. Stephanie*

      Ugh, I hate that. Phone interviews it’s a little less jarring, but still. I like time to prepare!

      I go back-and-forth on the hoop jumping (despite reading this blog avidly). I’ve probably encouraged some of these bad practices. Since I’m job searching, I wonder how picky I can be.

    2. Cherry Scary*

      Bingo. I had a place call me same day, expect me to drive down the next day (I lived 2 hours away and made it clear in our conversation.) After coming in for the interview, they asked if I would be available again the day after to come in for a second round (burning another half gallon of gas) which, if it went well, would mean a day of shadowing. Thankfully I realized during the first interview that door-to-door sales for a cable company wasn’t for me. The position was advertised as a marketing position.

    3. dawbs*

      Ugh, I had that happen recently-more or less.

      I am currently employed but I’m looking (not looking hard, just looking a little) and the field I’m in is pretty small, especially local to me.
      I was incredibly well-qualified for a position Company A had–I sent my resume (which shows that I’m currently employed and that my current employer is not local to Company A) and hoped for the best.

      They called me at 3pm on a Sunday and let me know the (insultingly low) salary . I said I’d consider that, and they wanted to schedule an interview–for Monday at Noon. I said that I needed to be available for my employer and needed additional time to become available. I offered any time on Friday and was told they were only interviewing on Monday through Thursday, I said I would see what I could do. I emailed Monday night and offered Wed or Thurs, early morning or late afternoon, or, again, any time on Friday.

      They said they’d already hired someone who could make themselves available Monday.

      I know I dodged a bullet and all that–and I may not have been able to make the pay-cut work. But still rather depressing for me (since Company A is one of about 20 places in my state that does this work–and the only one very local to where I live)

    4. stellanor*

      My favorite were the people who called me about a job posting and then wanted to do a phone screen ON THE SPOT.

      At that point I was applying to a ton of similar jobs, so half the time I didn’t remember who this person was or what the job was or exactly what I sent them. If I was home I could scramble and pull up the materials, but sometimes I was on the bus! Once I told the person I was on the bus and their response was “Oh, that’s okay!” NO IT’S NOT.

  12. Mimmy*

    Oh, also – I’m curious if anyone sees if the practice of asking for references at the application stage is common in specific industries. I’m often surprised to see it in larger organizations with multiple openings on a regular basis. You’d think that this would be highly time consuming given the volume of applications they likely get. Unless this is a way to keep the applicant pool to a minimum? I’m specifically thinking about a multi-state policy organization that I’ve always wanted to work at.

      1. Big10Professor (was AdjunctForNow)*

        It’s almost universal for faculty jobs, but it actually makes sense there. It sounds like this is one of those BS things where they can’t figure out that the staff hiring process should be different (and vice-versa! I actually had a faculty application ask for my high school info).

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I’ve seen a lot of push-back on the requiring-letters-of-recommendation front even for academic jobs. The thinking is that most people are going to have good-to-excellent letters of recommendation, so they’re not a particularly useful tool for cutting down the applicant pile on the front end. I say this having seen my share of faculty rec letters over the years.

          In my opinion, most of the academic searches could be cut down to a CV and an application letter outlining the areas of research interest, teaching experience, familiarity with the student population, etc. Ask for the advisor letters for when you’re deciding which three-four candidates to bring to campus. Unlikely to happen, given what I know of academic culture, but that’s MY recommendation!

      2. AcademicAnon*

        I can’t remember if for my current research tech job if the ad asked for references up front, not like it mattered since I’m sure the moment my application came through my current manager walked down the hall to talk to my former manager.

    1. MaryMary*

      I see it a lot at large organizations, particularly ones who use Taleo or one of the other (terrible) automated application systems. I figure someone decided in the implementation phase to ask candidates for references, it got programmed into the application to ask everyone for references when they apply. Oh, technology, making our lives so “easier.”

  13. MaryMary*

    I suspect/hope that the person doing phone interviews is a recruiter (internal or external), not the hiring manager. Although it is frustrating, I’d try not to dismiss a potential employer because of shenanigans during the application and screening process. Especially at a large organization, the hiring manager likely has no control and little line of sight to what goes on in the early steps. I worked with a series of terrible recruiters at OldJob, and I know our application system asked for all the things that annoy people (how do I know? Because I had to use it for internal postings! I appreciated having to enter my SSN and address even though a) the company already had them, b) they had already run a background check at hire, and c) I’d been working there problem-free for eight years). The hiring manager may be great, it may be a perfect opportunity for you, even if the application and pre-screen suck.

    1. OP*

      That also stuck out in the back of my mind, which is why I wanted to try and work with them on this, and just see it through. The company has good reviews on Glassdoor, and it pays well, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  14. Mallorie, the recruiter*

    This seems like a really WIDE WINDOW – that’s the part that I am not understanding. Our team does very short prescreen calls, usually about 5 minutes. We ask candidates to be available for a 30 minute window and we call between 4-6 candidates during that time. But asking someone to be available for FOUR HOURS for what is going to be a 10 minute phone call? Who are they, the cable company? (and I don’t even think the cable company does this anymore!)

    1. Joey*

      Doesn’t it feel like a cattle call though. I always try to make people feel like I’m super selective and hide that I might be calling 10 people or whatever. Absolutely I’ll schedule them back to back to back, but to me a specific call time feels a little more personal than a “put your life aside unnecessarily and wait for it to ring until I have a chance to call you” type window.

      1. Windchime*

        A cattle call is exactly what I was thinking. They had a ton of candidates that they were going to start calling at the beginning of the 4 hour window and were just going to go through the entire list, so they couldn’t give a time–I’m assuming if one person wasn’t available, they would just move right on down the list.

  15. Jamie*

    I am job searching as well, albeit not in call centers, and received a follow up to an application that I thought was both unnecessary and turned me off from the position, but I’m wondering if I dismissed them too quickly. I am midlevel with quality experience and sent a well-crafted cover letter and resume. I received this short email from the company:

    “1. In a nutshell, what is your [industry] experience?
    2. What makes you interested in working in [industry]? Specifically, why are you interested in [company name]?
    3. What is your experience in [industry]? Examples preferred.
    4. Do you have writing samples to send?
    5. What are you looking for in your next job? Are you looking for a career? Where do you ultimately see yourself in five years?”

    Is this becoming the norm? It is not for an entry level position and I addressed my experience in both my cover letter and resume, so I’m not sure why this is necessary. It seemed lazy on the part of the company.

    1. AcademicAnon*

      I so would’ve wanted to snarkily email back with a picture of cover letter and resume embedded in the return email.

    2. Stephanie*

      I had to do that once, except the hiring manager’s question list was about 20 questions long. It took me nearly two hours to do all those short answers and we hadn’t even had a phone screen yet. That was the first of many red flags.

    3. Chriama*

      The thing is, I could understand a hiring manager wanting answers to specific questions rather than trusting in a job applicant’s discretion to read their mind and create the perfect cover letter. However, that should be *instead of* asking for a cover letter and resume, rather than *in addition to*.

      Overall, what’s the opinion of asking specific questions rather than accepting the traditional cover letter? Obviously I’d expect the questions to be a little more well-formed than the example above, but I kind of like the idea.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I had a similar experience with a position I applied to a few months ago. I applied for an executive assistant position and they emailed back all the candidates to have them answer a bunch of questions that went over their level of work as an EA (years in the role, what companies, etc). It made no sense because it was all questions that would be answered by looking at resumes. The ironic thing is that I believe the application was done through an ATS system!

    5. Traveler*

      I’ve had to play this game with recruiters on the phone before. And most of the time the recruiters have ZERO idea what the job actually entails or what anything I’m saying means – to the point they have had me talk very slowly, repeat, and spell things for them. I know they are getting details to pass on to whoever the actual hiring manager is but – obnoxious.

    6. Josh S*

      This screams to me that the Recruiter is VERY accustomed to getting cover letters that read:
      “Dear Sir or Madam,
      I am writing to you about the job you have posted. My resume says some generic things. My cover letter repeats them. I would like an interview.

      and has learned to not pay any attention to cover letters as a result. Instead s/he asks for answers to those questions as an initial screen (which is what the cover letter should do). It speaks to laziness–or learned futility of reading cover letters!–on the Recruiter’s part.

      (In contrast, this should underscore the HUGE value of a well-written cover letter!)

      The Recruiter should be using the lack of good cover letters as a way to initially screen applicants, in part. If they’re not telling her why they’re interested in the job, and why they think they’d be a good fit for the industry/company/position, they probably shouldn’t be passed along. Because that’s what the CL is for.

      The Recruiter is, instead, ignoring that portion of the process. Maybe s/he doesn’t get enough applicants and doesn’t think s/he can afford to screen anyone out that early. Maybe s/he is just lazy. As a result, they ask those questions. It’s worth taking that into consideration as you apply (because it will impact the kinds of people who eventually get hired there!), but it’s not, on its own, a deal-breaker IMO.

      But highly annoying.

  16. Kevin*

    That’s not awesome. I’m in charge of setup interviews. We don’t do over the phone, because we want to see how the person responds to the question. There are three individuals grading the interviewees and each session is limited to 20 minutes. If the person talking spends too much time explaining their answer, its tough luck.
    That manager should have been more specific. Our time is valuable. If they can’t define what your time is worth now, how can they decide later?

  17. Cheesecake*

    I don’t know what is more annoying: getting a phone interview at the worst time ever without any prior notice or having to wait 4 hour slot. In any case, empoyers with bad scheduling or horrendous additional requests are those offering horrible jobs, awful bosses and low salaries. I haven’t yet seen a case where one has to jump thru strange and unnecessary hoops and got an awesome deal at the end.

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