obnoxiously pushy recruiter wouldn’t let me decline a job interview, then snarked me when I turned down the job

A reader writes:

I’m writing after one of the more frustrating attempts to decline a bad fit job interview I’ve ever had.

For context: I’m an artist and in my “rent job” a contractor, although the pandemic made me realize my contractor path needs to seriously change and so I’m currently navigating that.

A few months back, a recruiter who I’ve previously gotten on well with approached me about contracting at a company. I reviewed it, decided it wouldn’t be a good fit mainly due to a mismatch between my/the company’s focus areas and work cultures, and politely declined saying as much. All seemed well until a few weeks ago, when the recruiter approached me sharing that the role had become available again. I had a load of project deadlines that needed my focus, so didn’t immediately reply … until the recruiter started calling me about it. Repeatedly.

Here is probably the point to say, I’m neurodivergent. It’s what makes me good at all the things I do. But it means phone calls are something I have to seriously pre-plan for to manage energy, hyperfocus, etc. Also, I’m prone to being pushed off-message on the phone in ways I’m not on email (as we shall see), and I *really* don’t cope well with someone repeatedly asking/expecting things of me before I’ve had time to consider. Therefore I’ve got boundaries which are stated when giving out my phone number, which amounts to “I don’t take unplanned phone calls, please always confirm with me on email/text before calling.” To know me at all is to know I don’t do (most) phone calls, and if I’m not doing something it’s not because I need to be convinced.

Unfortunately, when this recruiter started calling about this role, they ignored all of this, and wouldn’t stop. So now I’m getting several missed calls without context while also trying to hit deadlines, and getting extremely stressed. I eventually answered to make it stop. Despite repeating my earlier feedback, the recruiter insists it *will* be a good fit because they know the company and they know me. It’s clear I’m not getting off the phone until I agree to meet with them. Who knows, maybe it’ll be fine?

Like I said, phone calls are bad for me!

Between the recruiter, the interview, and my own research, it quickly became obvious that the role is unfilled because the company has issues. Headlines include: super-high employee turnover; major job scope conflation with no clear job description; painting the previous employee’s departure after three months (due solely to company mind-changes, with serious tax implications among other things) as ‘“taking it personally” (!). Also, the website is very unclear about their actual focus area. I got to 14 red flags before I stopped counting.

I decided (again) not to proceed, and knew I couldn’t go into detail — especially on the phone — without the recruiter trying to talk me around. Also, even I know that “there are more red flags than a semaphore convention” is not acceptable professional feedback! The unarranged calls started immediately after the interview; apparently the hiring manager *really* liked me and wanted me booked yesterday. After taking the evening, I emailed the recruiter a short polite note to withdraw, borrowing a lot from AAM scripts, restating *again* that it was due to fit.

He replied saying I hadn’t needed to use email for that and “we know each other well enough that you could have just said that when we were on the phone.”


Nothing I did to enforce boundaries around either email/phone or the job itself seemed to work, and now I’ve been snarked when I need help to navigate what I’m actually doing next. For the next time this comes up, I’d love to know: is there anything I could have done, or should have done, or not have done?!

Well, first, this was an obnoxiously aggressive recruiter. Calling you repeatedly when you weren’t picking up and pushing you to interview for a job that you said multiple times you weren’t interested is unacceptably pushy, as well as simply rude. The snark when you withdrew is rude too.

And the comment about how you “knew each other well enough” that you shouldn’t have sent an email is quite rich — since in reality if you knew each other so well, they’d know the phone isn’t your thing. It sounds like you’re forthright about that. So that assessment not just snarky but off-base as well. It was also out-of-touch; lots of people prefer to gather their thoughts rather than respond right away during a phone call. Thinking things over rather than giving an off-the-cuff response is a good thing, not a bad one. And if the recruiter had any self-awareness, it might have occurred to them that when you repeatedly pressure someone to do something they don’t want to do, they might choose to email their final denial so they’re not stuck on the phone dealing with yet more pressure.

So that recruiter sucks.

As for anything you could have done differently: Most importantly, don’t agree to interviews you don’t want to do. You felt you wouldn’t be able to get off the phone until you agreed to interview — but you don’t have to let anyone hold you hostage like that. You can say, “No, I’m really not interested in this one, and I’ve got another call coming in so I’ve got to jump off now — good luck with the role” and hang up.

In fact, feel free to fabricate any reason at all to end a call with someone who’s making it hard to do that: you’ve got another call coming in, you’re late for a conference call, you’ve got someone at the door, you’re on deadline and need to run, etc. And you don’t need to wait for the other person’s agreement — you can say your parting lines and then just hang up. This won’t come across as rude as long as you give your reason and end with a warm closer like “good talking to you!” or “thanks for calling” or “got to run, have a great day.” (To be clear, you don’t need to give a reason, but we’re talking about how to do this with reasonable grace so it helps to. Also, I wouldn’t be quite this abrupt with someone who’s been respectful, but when someone is trying to keep you on the phone despite your clear disinterest, it’s fine to just politely but decisively cut them off.)

Second, if we could go back in time I’d tell you not to answer the phone when the recruiter kept calling. I get why you did — it’s distracting to have someone blowing up your phone when you’re trying to focus on other stuff, and it can feel like it’ll be easier to just answer and see what they want. It’s not a terrible misstep that you did answer — but with the benefit of hindsight, I’d tell you to just mute that number, and maybe text back something saying you’re on deadline and can’t speak and please email you instead. (A recruiter who keeps calling after that is saying very clearly that they’re someone who will violate your boundaries if you work together. That’s useful info about them, annoying as the discovery method will be.)

But the biggest thing is not to get pushed into doing interviews you don’t want just because it feels like someone won’t take no for an answer. In fact, people who won’t take no for an answer are actually the most important ones to say no to. You have your original reasons for the no, plus the fact that their pushiness shows they’re not someone you’ll enjoy working with.

{ 262 comments… read them below }

  1. Sloan Kittering*

    Heh. The reason this recruiter is eager to catch you on the phone is because they get what they want that way. They don’t like email because they’re not getting what they want that way. It doesn’t have to be malicious, they just know if they can catch you on the phone it’ll be a different conversation. Don’t let their priorities and needs push you off track, OP.

    1. Forrest*

      They don’t really get what they want, since they presumably get paid when someone accepts the job, not just for accepting the interview. If the conpany is paying for people who simply come to interview even if they’re not interested in the job, that’s a pretty counter-productive business model.

      1. CoveredinBees*

        I’m guessing they think that they can push/convince OP into taking the contract after having pushed them into the interview. It might not even be malicious (“Once OP talks to the company, they’ll see what I see and want the job!”) although it is definitely rude.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Sadly, a lot of recruiters do this kind of thing because it worked once: the candidate ‘saw’ what the recruiter did, and accepted the job. If putting on the pressure works just once, the recruiter will count on it working again.

      2. R*

        It would be just like him to bug the company until they agree to such a business model just to shut him up. Maybe he’s onto something.

    2. Lacey*

      Yes, I’ve often seen advice recommending people insist on in-person or phone communication to get what they want, because it’s harder for people to say no directly than it is in email/text. Whether they’re consciously implementing that or not, it’s certainly why they’re insisting on a phone call.

      1. Nanani*

        Wow, that’s deeply concerning! Manipulation is not a solid basis for a professional relationship (or really any relationship). Whoever gives out this kind of advice must have a degree from Supervillain Academy

        1. Turnip Soup*

          Yes and no. I will definitely set up conversations so they have the greatest chance to go well – in-person if it’s complex or there’s conflict, picking times when I know the other person will be relaxed and able to focus, using a more or less direct approach based on what the other person is more comfortable with. I’ll do a lot of things to set up a favorable outcome for an interaction and in one light it can be pretty manipulative, but in another it’s actually great for relationship building – as long as you’re doing it with the goal of engaging with them towards a mutually beneficial outcome. When you start using the same observations & subsequent tactics to pressure people into what you want, or to forcefully convince them that what they want is actually exactly what you want, that’s when it crosses the line.

          That being said, I will 100% use pressure tactics if I’m trying to get needed answers from those above me in the food chain and other things haven’t worked. And I don’t think that is inherently unethical, though it can cross the line.

        2. Gerry Keay*

          Being aware of how your message will be received based on the form it’s delivered isn’t manipulation — it’s communication strategy. One could argue that all persuasive communication involves a level of manipulation, since you’re trying to convince someone to do/think something they weren’t already doing/thinking, though I don’t think that’s an especially useful framework.

          1. Nanani*

            making it hard for people to say no isn’t a question of “how it will be received” – it’s manipulating them into not saying no.

            1. Sandi*

              I sometimes have to interact with difficult people who try to avoid my work tasks. I miss the days when I could stand in the entrance to their cubicle and have one short discussion with them where I would shoot down all of their avoidance tricks and in the end they would agree to do the work. Now I have to write endless emails, sometimes to their boss, and I’m spending hours to accomplish what used to happen in a few minutes when in person.

              Whether it is labeled as manipulation or not, there are times when pushing someone into doing something they would prefer to avoid is better for everyone except the person who doesn’t want to do their job. This is a completely different situation from OP’s, and in an ideal company everyone would want to help rather than avoid some tasks, but sometimes in life I need to make it hard for some people to say no.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Ah yes – I deal with their cousin “ the doctor dodgers” who over email/text can never be pinned down to schedule their follow up appointments (for things such as Staple Removal, Wound Checks, and Wound Care – as well as less urgent things like Annual Physicals). The managers have changed to only allowing scheduling over the phone or in person – to “encourage” those folks to schedule. And yes, I do ask at the start of the call if “this is a good time to get your next appointment scheduled?” and if not I gather a call back time before I get off the phone (and yes, I always call them back or arrange for a coworker also doing calls to call them back at their specified time).

                This isn’t all I do, in fact most of what I do is pulling the next day’s charts and getting the completed charts from the day before filed.

                1. please no*

                  WOW. if i had a doctor’s office who didn’t allow online scheduling, i’d probably never go to one. So many people hate phone calls, are you sure this is genuinely getting you the outcome you want, or have you just quietly lost a whole bunch of patients who found more useful offices?

            2. Emmy Noether*

              I think there’s a fine line between “making it hard to say no” and “making someone more disposed to say yes”. For example, being polite, saying please and thank you, smiling, all make people more likely to say yes to a request – and all that is not seen as manipulative.

              I’ve also noticed people are more disposed to help me if I ask by phone and make some small talk instead of asking in writing. It makes the largest difference if it’s someone who doesn’t yet know me. It’s because it’s human nature to be more likely to help someone they directly perceive as a friendly fellow human being rather than anonymous text. And as long as everyone is happy with the interaction, I see nothing wrong with using this effect. And I actually hate the phone! I just use it when I need to.

              What this recruiter did is waaaay over that line of course.

        3. Beth*

          It’s not always manipulative to prefer a phone call or meeting over email/text. Sometimes it is–if a person has told you “no” already, and you then insist on a meeting because you know they have trouble saying “no” to your face, that’s bad behavior. But sometimes it’s “I have context on this that might change your decision and it’s easier to explain that in a conversation,” or “People are more likely to consider what you’re offering if you’re available in the moment to answer any questions and concerns they might have about it,” or other legit and understandable reasons.

    3. WomEngineer*

      This is true whether you’re neurodivergent or neurotypical. If you’re on the phone, then you have to respond immediately. And there’s no paper trail like with email.

      When recruiters are hired by a company, it’s their job to sell the company’s jobs. If they need a warm body with X, Y, and Z skills, they’ll fight to make it happen. As OP experienced, the job and/or the company may not necessarily be in the best interest of the candidate.

    4. Elsewhere1010*

      The best lesson I ever learned is that “No” is a complete sentence, and that you can repeat that one word an infinite number of times.

      1. Koalafied*

        Sometimes if I’m feeling the (entirely self-imposed) need to “explain” my no for politeness sake, I just use non-explanations – they sound kind of I’m giving a reason but actually just reiterating that I’m not going to do the thing:

        * No, I’m afraid that won’t be possible. Thanks for understanding!
        * No, I regret that I’m going to have to decline. Thank you for thinking of me, though!
        * No, I won’t be able to do that unfortunately. Good luck with your search!

    5. Tupac Coachella*

      Yep, this read SO manipulative to me. The recruiter’s references to how well they “know” each other seem like he’s trying to push OP into accepting the implication that they have some kind of relationship that creates an obligation. They do not. OP does not owe this person jack.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I get very annoyed when people try to manipulate me and this comment would have pushed me over the line. The recruiter doesn’t know the OP at all! If he did, he would know if they do not do business with phone calls. If someone said that line to me when they obviously are not knowing or respecting what I need, I would get mad and refuse to do business with them. With luck I would just assertively decline and hang up, but it’s possible I would completely lose my temper.

        1. Chas*

          Indeed, I’d have been tempted to respond with something like “Well, since we know each other so well, you’ll understand why I’m blocking your phone number from now on.” (Although I’d have also been tempted to just block the number in the first place.)

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            or, more probably for me, I would love to say that but that kind of response never comes to me while I’m on the phone. It dawns on me sometime between 2 and 4 am while I’m tossing and turning and cursing that recruiter!

      2. Batgirl*

        I would have been so tempted to respond with: “Telling me you know what’s best for me, and talking over me, has been the main issue with our phone calls. You don’t need to know me to understand the word no.”

  2. Recruiters_should_be_useful*

    I’m confused….the recruiter gets paid on commission right? Why would they waste their time with a candidate who says she doesn’t want the job? What am I missing?

    1. Purple Cat*

      Pretty sure the recruiter felt they “knew better” than the letter writer what was best for them.

      1. Lance*

        Yup; it’s the ‘hard sell’ approach, which just amounts to ‘make this one thing happen in the short-term, care nothing about the long-term or other consequences’.

      2. Cobol*

        Hard sellers are going to hard sell. 5000 NOs are fine if it gets you one yes. It’s good for some things (I mean I have my doubts, but whatever), and annoys most of us.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Exactly on both counts. If I’m shopping and see a think I know I’ve wanted or didn’t even know existed, I’m in that place of “eh, don’t want to make a decision,” a salesman could talk me into it, if s/he is willing to take ten “Naw, not todays.”
          Recruiter thinks this is how every transaction works, like there is no difference between an electric sno cone machine with monkeys on it and a job.

          1. Purple Cat*

            “no difference between an electric sno cone machine with monkeys on it and a job.”
            I think I found a contribution to the “oddly specific comments” threads ;)

    2. Beef Wellington*

      It could be that she’s on a recruiting team and her manager wants her to submit X number of candidates a week so that she can maintain high enough KPIs. If she acted as respectfully as people want third party recruiters to act, she would probably lose her job due to low call-time metrics, dials, among other things.

      Recruitment is soul-sucking

      1. Anon for this*

        I once worked for a recruiter. She used to say that the only part of the process she really had control over was getting as many good candidates as possible in front of the hiring manager. Not that it makes it ok for them to be as pushy as the OP’s recruiter!

      2. Lydia*

        I believe the LW mentioned it was a man and I think that actually plays a big part in this.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Because there’s a chance the recruit, in this case, could interview and change her mind.

    4. Decima Dewey*

      Because, as OP indicated, there are a slew of red flags about this job. And if the recruiter doesn’t present a candidate to the client, they won’t get all the money they were hoping for.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      Salesmen often will do anything to get past an intermediary obstacle, even if it hurts their chances of making a sale. When I picked up the phone, placing myself between the salesman and my boss, many would lie shamelessly to get past me. Since I would naturally tell my boss what the call was about, the lie was obvious to him. Even if he wanted to buy what they were selling, he wouldn’t buy it from liar guy.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        As a former receptionist, all of this.

        The immediacy thing is why people still go door-to-door, at least for business-to-business sales. It’s harder to turn down someone who’s smiling in front of you. Especially if they have swag.

    6. Sweet Christmas!*

      Give what the LW wrote about the company, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were having a hard time filling the role and the recruiter thought the winning approach was to get pushier with a few of the best fit candidates.

      1. LW*

        I posted this below in my longer reply but – yup, although nothing was said outright it was clear they were struggling to fill the role and had been for several weeks. A job post went up for it later the same day after the final email exchange, with a coda of ‘they’re happy to spend money’ to get people in (money hadn’t come up but given it eventually became clear the job was effectively a twofer, I’m not so sure I buy that!)

    7. Kevin Sours*

      Some people don’t think past today’s problem. They may think that if they badger OP into an interview, they can badger OP into taking the job. And they may just be desperate to get live bodies into the interview room to make it look like they are doing something.

    8. Meow*

      If they can bully OP into an interview they don’t want, they probably think they can bully OP into a job they don’t want too.

      (And I mean absolutely no disrespect to OP saying that – I’m speaking from experience myself, unfortunately)

    9. DJ Abbott*

      The recruiter doesn’t care what OP wants or needs. The recruiter only cares about what he needs – a commission. That’s what hard-sell sales people do, is try to force people to buy things they don’t want or need.

    10. Lucy*

      I think some recruiters don’t think past the commission to the fact that they will probably lose it (at least I assume they lose commission or contracts when someone leaves a job they recruited for before a set amount of time.) I got pushed into a job by a recruiter very early in my career. I was upfront I had moral issues with the company who appeared to be a pyramid scheme and that the commute was longer with lower pay than I was interested in, but she gave me a VERY hard sell and I was unfortunately desperate because my career felt stalled out (I graduated in the midst of the US recession). I’m on the spectrum and phone calls are similarly difficult for me as the OP and the recruiter definitely always called me when I expressed concerns via email, and I can see now how deliberate of a tactic it was.

      My fears about the company I worked for were correct: they were an MLM selling supplements I find personally immoral (diet pills)! I ended up finding a slightly better-paying job a few weeks later that was also a much shorter commuter. In an ideal world I wouldn’t have accepted the first job but I do think it’s far more on the recruiter to realize that’s what they risk by pushing candidates into jobs they’re not interested in. I think it’s short-sightedness on their part but it’s also probably something that plays out in their favor because knowing my own comfort level with change and job searching burnout it’s actually a minor miracle I didn’t just stay in that job. She no doubt picked up on the fact that I really wanted to get experience and get my career started after struggling and most people can’t afford to job hop since there can be a gap of both income and benefits not to mention worries about how it looks on a resume.

      Unfortunately the job I took after that was actually MUCH worse than the MLM (that place surprisingly happened to have truly lovely people working there who I stayed in touch with!), and I learned a valuable lesson that desperation and job searching don’t mix. Nor does making career decisions over the phone work for me, much as I wish I could handle phone calls as well as most neurotypical people.

  3. Beth*

    ” . . . saying very clearly that they’re someone who will violate your boundaries if you work together. That’s useful info about them, annoying as the discovery method will be.”

    I just want to say how much I adore this.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      Yeah, this recruiter would have burned 100% of their bridges with me and I would probably tell others to avoid them, too. There should be logical consequences for being this pushy and rude.

      I also thought, at one point, that accepting an interview at a place that seemed like a bad fit was the path of least resistance with a recruiter. Unfortunately I passed the interview despite my best efforts (including asking them point-blank about why the company had been convicted for fraud and racial bias), and the recruiter went all-in on pressuring me to take the job. Very glad I didn’t.

  4. Purple Cat*

    I had to look up what a semaphore was (railroad signals) but now that’s my new favorite expression!
    I’m sorry this recruiter was so terrible to you, but please rest assured that there are plenty of other recruiters out there. You don’t NEED this recruiter to help you pivot your career. In fact, they’ve proven pretty conclusively that they DON’T know you. And probably wouldn’t be as much help as you’ve built up in your head.

    1. Lance*

      All of this. The recruiter has shown you, very clearly, how they operate; the logical response, given that it’s not at all how you operate, is to not work with them again.

    2. supertoasty*

      I’m particularly fond of “more red flags than the USSR,” but I can definitely appreciate the semaphore phraseology

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I like “More red flags than a Chinese military parade.” (China’s flag is predominantly red. The USSR’s flag was red, but Russia’s flag is now red, white and blue.) Morocco has a primarily red flag, but I don’t know if they do the big military parades like The USSR used to.

        1. Jarissa*

          Acclimating to my new home region back in the 90s included learning to interpret the phrase “more red flags than an Iron Bowl tailgate party” and I was later delighted to realize that the person who taught me the phrase was, herself, waving so many red flags that I could describe her exactly that same way.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        It was used on ships (and on land) long before rail was invented. The rail semaphore arms were meant to mimic the flags of a person sending semaphore messages.

      2. All the words*

        I can’t think of semaphore without remembering the Monty Python sketch where they did a dramatic performance of Wuthering Heights… completely in semaphore.

  5. it's just the frame of mind*

    If all phone calls are pre-planned, can you just send all calls directly to voice mail whenever you aren’t expecting a call? I also struggle with unplanned communication, and the only thing I’ve found that prevents me from getting stressed and angry about people attempting to reach me is turning off whatever notification is stressing me out.

    1. hbc*

      Yes, ideally with a voicemail message that includes something like, “If you need an immediate response, please send one text with a description of the issue. Otherwise leave a voicemail or email me. Unscheduled phone calls are never answered.”

      The person who [just found your dog/is taking your mom to the ER/got the hiring manager to double their offer if you start next week] will have no problem following those instructions. The person who is using the element of surprise as a pressure tactic may be put off, but that’s not a bad thing.

      1. Wombats and Tequila*

        Yes, and OP should block this recruiter’s number, including texts.

        If their phone or service doesn’t allow that, they can add the recruiter’s number to their contacts, putting (sat their name is Jack Handy) “XX DO NOT ANSWER Jack Handy” as the name. Then they can set the ringtone for that contact to silent and keep their phone face down.

        As for anything OP has gotten browbeaten into agreeing to, that doesn’t mean they have signed a pact with the devil in blood. They have the right to change their mind. It’s as easy as sending an email saying something like, “Dear Jack, I have decided not to take this position, so I shall not be attending the appointment on at . Please do not contact me regarding this position again. Thank you in advance for respecting my choice.”

        1. Michelle*

          “Thank you in advance for respecting my choice, in the unlikely but I guess technically possible event that, for once, you in fact do.”

  6. White Squirrel*

    My brother hated speaking on the phone. He used to blurt out “Gotta go, the dog’s on fire,” and hang up. (No actual canines were harmed during the making of this excuse).

    1. emmelemm*

      Hah, I love it!

      I also hate talking on the phone but I can usually find a way to wind it down when I need to.

    2. Pomegranate*

      I love this blurt! It combines the recognition that it is polite to have a reason to hang up and an understanding that that reason can be nobody’s business. “Gotta go, the unicorn is hungry”, “Gotta go, need to fuel up the space shuttle”, “Gotta go, the moon is in the third house”.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          “I’m so sorry, I can’t (whatever), I have to shave my goldfish.” *click*

    3. Red5*

      I used to play an online game where a guild had named themselves “OMG Dog’s on Fire GTG!”

      That has noting to do with this post, but your brother’s exclamation made me think of it.

    4. Becky*

      I generally hate talking on the phone but will do it when necessary. Callers who call out of the blue generally go directly to vm but if I do happen to answer then my standard response is “I’m not interested, please don’t call me again. Thank you.” and then just hang up.

      Not nearly as interesting as the dog is on fire but has usually worked for me.

      1. Harried HR*

        If you have applied for a job and your phone number is on the resume, as a HR Manager who does phone screens if I called a candidate and received a response of

        ““I’m not interested, please don’t call me again. Thank you.” and then just hang up.

        They would 100% go on the Do Not Hire list

        There are enough obstacles to finding good candidates I don’t need another one !!!

        1. Sweet Christmas!*

          …yes, that’s the point of the statement. You wouldn’t tell a company that you were interested in not to call you again.

        2. Alex M*

          I mean, you … probably shouldn’t be calling people out of the blue to do phone screens? Once upon a time, when phone was the main way that people communicated, yes, that made sense. But these days, every call I’ve had with a potential employer has been scheduled in advance.

        3. Tin Cormorant*

          Unless the phone number is the *only* contact info on the resume, I’m not expecting that to be the very first contact I get from an employer. Email should always come first. Phone can come later, once we’ve both agreed this makes sense and I can prepare myself for this specific conversation in a time slot where I can give it my attention. I’d be happy to be on a do-not-hire list for a company that insisted on phone first.

        4. Batgirl*

          So you would listen to their instructions to never call them again? Yes…of course you would.

        5. Alice*

          “There are enough obstacles to finding good candidates I don’t need another one !!!”

          So your solution is to take potential candidates out of the running? How is that working out for you?

          Apologies if that sounds snarky, but the few employers who called me out of the blue for a” quick 30 minute screen” were always the ones who showed no consideration for my time and the fact I was juggling a full time job and personal commitments while trying to interview. Most people send an email to schedule the phone screening in advance, I have no time for people who don’t bother to do that.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            If it’s a role that involves thinking on your feet/phone, it would probably be for the best that they don’t hire someone like me/OP.

      2. Tin Cormorant*

        I can’t remember the last time I answered an unscheduled phone call and it was actually a person I could say that to. I’ve never liked answering the phone, but the past few years it’s been 99% robots.

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      BWAHAHAA this reminds me of one time as a child when my mom was on the phone making a hair appointment and my younger sister had decided that she wanted to put a “leash” on her pet guinea pig. Poor guinea pig freaks out and starts squealing and my mom is alerted to this and freaks out and hangs up on the hairdresser… Thankfully the pet was unharmed, just scared. When she went to the hair appointment, the hairdresser was very concerned about her, but they both had a laugh and moved on.

      I definitely could see something similar working even without the squealing pet in the background – gotta go walk the dog, gotta go before the microwave explodes, or just “gotta go, byeeee”. Good luck OP!

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      “My little brother, this morning, got his arm caught in the microwave, and uh, my grandmother dropped acid and she freaked out and hijacked a school bus full of penguins, so it’s kind of a family crisis…”

    7. Winter Sky*

      Great, now I’m sitting here wondering if dogs actually do catch on fire, and if so, what causes it.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        IANAFDE (I am not a flammable dog expert), but I’m going to say with a high amount of confidence that dogs do not typically spontaneously combust.

      2. someone*

        Dog hair can burn, or the dog’s clothing, or leashes or collars. They can get too close to a flame, knock a candle/cigarette/something over, etc for accidental methods of dogs catching on fire.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I don’t know about dogs, but my cat once stood over a tealight to lick something, probably an open tub of cream or pat of butter, and managed to singe her fur before realising what was up!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I quit a telemarketing job (at the end of my first hour) by telling a telemarketer that my house was on fire.

      2. The Rafters*

        An acquaintance of mine once got rid of an obnoxious salesman b/c her parrot decided to use that moment to act like a whining child – “mommmeeeee!!” Acquaintance said, “I have a sick child upstairs. You have to leave,” and shut the door in the salesman’s face.

        1. Wombats and Tequila*

          I had a run of proselytizers who had decided foe some reason that I was a fruit ripe for the picking, and were showing up at the most inconvenient times. Once asked them, “Did you see the dog? I think he got out!” I wasn’t trying to be clever; I genuinely thought the dog had gotten out. They looked extremely alarmed and never darkened my door again.

          (No dogs either escaped or combusted in this tale.)

      3. Faceless Old Woman*

        I told a telemarketer from the local paper that I didn’t know how to read. It threw him completely and he just stammered for a bit then mumbled “have a good day” and hung up.
        The next one that called, how claiming to be illiterate didn’t get us removed from the list is beyond me, I interrupted and said we really weren’t interested. He sighed and said no one wants to even hear my spiel in the saddest voice. Him I told “you have 30 secs…go!” He speed ran the full sales push ending with “but.I.know.you’re.not.interested and.thank.your.for.letting.me finish.have.a.great.day.” in one big breath and hung up on himself.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          LOL!!! that’s so sweet I’d have wanted to buy something from him. But then I’d have regretted it so what a mercy he hung up.

    8. Yay I'm a llama again*

      I have been waiting for a chance to use “Honor requires that I be elsewhere” from Dune and this seems like the perfect one!

  7. hipsterfish*

    I also cannot do unplanned phone calls so I have my phone set to go to voicemail, which sends me an email with a transcript of the voicemail and then I can check that when I please. My job does not involve saving babies therefore people can leave a message. That recruiter was unacceptably rude and pushy and they’re lucky you didn’t name and shame them for such crappy behaviour!

    1. Margaery Tyrell*

      My phone auto-blocks unknown numbers, too. I recently was playing phone tag with a recruiter where he called me (when I was busy), then if I called him back when I was free, it was inconvenient for him — just a mess. I don’t understand why he couldn’t just set up a time over email — assuming people are free to take calls whenever you are is wild.

      1. Harried HR*

        As an HR Manager who at times can do 10 – 25 phone screens a day. There is not enough time to pre schedule EVERY.SINGLE.PHONE.CALL

        Yikes !!!!!

        Phone screens are vital to the hiring process (communication style, ability to articulate your point, ease of clarifying job expectations to name a few.)

        1. Colette*

          Huh? Yes, you should be scheduling phone screens, especially if you want someone to answer and to be inerested in working for you. It’s incredibly rude to call someone (who might already be at work) and expect them to drop everything to talk to you.

        2. Nanani*

          The people you’re trying to reach don’t have time to wait for your call either, and both parties save time by not playing phone tag.

        3. Sweet Christmas!*

          I’m a hiring manager, too, and I work with HR managers who do the same volume of pre-screens. They pre-schedule every single one.

          It’s not a good practice to call people spontaneously. First of all, they need time to prepare to do their best during those screens. Secondly, what if they are not available at the time or it’s a bad time to call? You could be losing good candidates because you’re unwilling to schedule them ahead of time, and you are wasting more time by randomly calling people rather than setting up a time to talk. And thirdly, as a more senior-level hire, I pass on employers who make it clear that they don’t value my time, so if an HR manager tried to randomly call me at all hours of the work day I would be very unimpressed.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Hell yes. I’ve had people call me when I’m in the middle of Walmart. Which, if you’ve ever been to Walmart, is incredibly noisy and large and it takes more than a few minutes to exit and get back to your car. So that would NOT be a good place to chat right now about the capybara cuddler job.

            1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

              Although, if there IS a capybara cuddler job, I think I’d be motivated to interview for it. Capybaras are ADORABLE!

          2. Artemesia*

            Did dozens of phone screens when hiring back in the day and they were always scheduled. It is just rude to expect someone to give thoughtful answers on the fly and not recognize they have needs to find times convenient to them and their work and family schedules.

        4. 2 Cents*

          So, if you happen to call me during my regular one-on-0ne with my current boss from the job I’m trying to leave, you expect me to drop everything during that meeting to talk to you and wouldn’t accept scheduling? Um, no. I’ve worked with recruiters and others who have a similar call volume and they’ve made it work via scheduling.

          1. Alice*

            I’ve had a recruiter call while I was in a meeting with the team. Had to take the call as I was waiting for the results of some medical analysis and the prefix was the same. I said “sorry not interested, I’m at work, bye”, they took offence that I hanged up on them. I’m not going to schedule an interview in front of my boss! I consider that a bullet dodged early.

        5. Environmental Compliance*

          Seems a bit out of date, considering nearly every HR person I’ve worked with over the past few times I’ve been interviewed have done exactly that out of respect for everyone’s time.

        6. Kella*

          Really? Which takes more time? Calling, getting voicemail, calling again, getting “sorry can’t talk right now, can you call back later?” on repeat until you happen to call them when they are available and mentally present OR offering a set of slots and asking the candidate to choose one, and then calling them at the scheduled time? There are automated systems that allow you to do this and you don’t even have to send more than the initial link with the available slots that are updated in real-time.

          Also, yes, phone screens are important, however, unless using the phone is a key part of the job, you will encounter people who’s disabilities prevent them from using the phone for this kind of purpose and you will need to offer them reasonable accommodation, such as a zoom call, email exchange, or live chat. Please don’t disregard people’s boundaries around phone calls out of the belief that phone calls are inherently better than other forms of communication, if they are only better for you.

          1. Bad Memories*

            Seriously – I can’t imagine how much time juggling 10 games of phone tag must be

            1. Bad Memories*

              Edit: ”I can’t imagine how much time juggling 10 games of phone tag must TAKE”

        7. Alex M*

          Every single phone screen I’ve had has been scheduled in advance. If you’re not willing to pre-schedule these calls, I think you’re doing something wrong.

        8. Dragonfly7*

          An organization that calls me and demands to do any level of interview on the spot is one I never apply to again, and none have tried since 2011. My last few phone screens were scheduled via email.

        9. Stripes*

          I genuinely don’t understand this logic, not everyone who is job hunting is jobless or sitting at home waiting patiently for phone calls and doing nothing else. All of my phone screens before interviews were scheduled, maybe for the next day or something fairly quick but I at least could clear up some time and expect it. What if I had a dentist’s appointment and didn’t want to talk with you while my mouth was full of fluoride while I was wearing a trash necklace? I feel like it’d be much more conducive to send an email, or an Indeed message, and say “I’m impressed with your resume! I’d love to schedule a phone screen, are you available tomorrow afternoon?” and have the person reply so you’re not both playing phone tag. That way I could say “I actually have an appointment at 1:30, but if you can call me before 12, or after 2:30 I’ll be available!”, which has always worked for me.

        10. Curmudgeon in California*

          If you call me for a phone screen
          A) While I’m in a meeting
          B) While I’m driving
          C) When I’m in the bathroom
          D) When I’m in the store
          I will take two things from it:
          1) You are rude
          2) I don’t want to work for a company that has so little regard for my time that they won’t check that I am available to talk before calling me.

          IF I answer, it will be to tell you to call back another time, or to bluntly tell you I’m not interested.

          I have a life beyond waiting for some random HR person or recruiter to call me. The fact that you don’t think I should tells me that I have no interest in working for your company.

          If you schedule the call I can be sure to clear my plate, go someplace quiet, and give you my full attention.

        11. DJ Abbott*

          In my job search that ended last week, I had two or three phone screens and all were pre-scheduled by email.
          Everything was pre-scheduled by email. Virtual interviews with both employers and staffing agencies, phone calls, and in-person interviews. The only exception was the time when an overloaded HR coordinator was trying to schedule a phone screen with me and I had an interview with someone else scheduled at the time she wanted. She wasn’t getting back to me and the interview ended early, so I emailed her I was free and she called half an hour later.

        12. RGB*

          Lol are you really under the impression we’re all sitting around just waiting to take randomly timed calls from recruiters?
          Would you like me to take personal calls at work in the role you place me in?


        13. Batgirl*

          In my last profession this would be sort of okay. It was the kind of job where you had to be very good on the phone off the cuff, and you were constantly expected to be on the phone so there was a chance you could pick up. It would still be pretty brief and unprepared though!

        14. Greige*

          Maybe you wouldn’t have to do so many screenings if you were more considerate of your candidates. You might get more quality answers and candidates more inclined to move forward in your hiring process.

        15. Harried HR*

          ** Clarification **

          Leaving a voicemail and asking the candidate to call back at their earliest convenience is the typical first interaction.

          If the candidate answers the phone (rare but it happens) Asking if the candidate has a few moments to discuss the role, typically they do if not I ask them to call at a time that works for them.

          Calling to schedule a phone screen when the candidate answers the call and is available to discuss the role seems overly complicated. IMO

          1. FormerInternalRecruiter*

            I would always email first to set up a time to speak. It was more considerate.

          2. Nanani*

            Your mistake is -calling- to schedule.
            Email them! Asynchronous communication excels at this. You get an answer when they’re able to answer and have had the time to check their schedule. No more calling back and leaving messages and hoping for the best. Just email.

        16. Joielle*

          Sounds like with that volume of phone screens, you might want to use Calendly or something to manage scheduling. That way you don’t have to email back and forth with every candidate but people will still know when to expect your call so they can be prepared.

        17. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yeah, but I totally hammed up a phone screen a short while back because I was caught off guard – I didn’t even remember sending my CV to these people. I was actually a very close fit for the job described, with plenty of experience, but I was utterly unconvincing because I hadn’t had any time to prepare. My job involves thinking and researching quietly, no need to be super responsive to phone calls out of the blue, so the hiring manager just lost out on a prime candidate by calling unannounced.

          People used to call unannounced all the time, but nowadays with SMS, as far as I’m concerned it’s plain rude and you don’t do it to people unless you know you’re in their phone directory and that they feel comfortable with not answering when they don’t feel up to it for whatever reason.

    2. river*

      Is it an app? I didn’t know you could get an email transcript. I would like that for my phone.

      1. VV*

        It’s called visual voicemail. iPhones have this feature by default, but I’m not sure about Android.

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          My android phone does indeed have this as well. It’s lovely.

          (My local bookstore once called to let me know they had settled on a price for my used books, and it transcribed the amount as $1,200 instead of $120. I showed the transcript to an employee but they refused to honor the transcript. We laughed a lot at that one.)

        2. Momma Bear*

          Google is doing it, too. I didn’t sign up for it specifically but it came with my current phone.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My Google Voice number does it automatically. I use it because I get a ton of spam when job hunting and I don’t want that coming to my real phone number.

          2. Tin Cormorant*

            My pixel 4 does it. It does not understand voicemails that contain more than one language, and I’m always entertained by its attempts to transcribe the Spanish portion of my daughter’s school announcements into English.

            “It hasn’t been to your children is for Rural Oscar PR news. Watch over. Marshalls only asked me to most of our total loss of silly active. For February see the nurse for Peter web barela”

        3. Brightwanderer*

          Sadly it looks like visual voicemail is only available in some regions and for some carriers. I briefly got very excited.

      2. Pants*

        I use YouMail (it’s an app) and it gives me visual voicemail. It’s not always 100% accurate, but you can also listen to the message if something is really out of whack in the text.

    3. Sweet Christmas!*

      I’m also neurodivergent and the phone is really hard for me – I have a hard time processing spoken language without having visual, non-verbal cues – so I also have my phone set to send all unknown numbers to VM. I call people back once I have had the time to prepare how I want to engage.

  8. KoiFeeder*

    > until the recruiter started calling me about it. Repeatedly.

    Nightmare! Nightmare scenario right there!

  9. Jesshereforthecomments*

    I used to have a lot of anxiety around pushy “sales” tactics and being assertive on the phone. Three ways that helped me overcome this were: (1) practice – practice in the mirror by yourself, practice role-playing with a trusted friend, practice when it’s actually happening; (2) prepare a few phrases to have in your arsenal so you can use them when needed and don’t have to think of something under pressure; (3) be a broken record. And it’s hard! It’s really hard at first and you may feel rude, your face may get hot, and your voice may be shaking – just wanted to acknowledge that!

    1. Rolly*

      I was going to say this also. Practice practice practice. Including when the stakes are low.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I am a big fan of the broken record technique. Repeat the exact same thing in the exact same tone of voice. Eventually even the slowest person will figure out this is all they are going to get.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        I used to do that. Now I don’t bother more than twice. After that the conversation can be over.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I use the technique when dealing with someone I can’t simply walk away from. I will totally just hang up, or the equivalent, on these people when I have that option.

    3. Momma Bear*

      The recruiter was a jerk to you, OP.

      We often want to please (or shut up) someone and get anxious about them not being happy at the expense of our own happy. When someone starts in on a hard sell, I default to “no.” I bought my first car because the salesperson was the first one all day to not treat me like a moron. More recently I walked away from a sale when the first guy thought it would be smart to get the finance guy to tag-team the sell to me. I had been on the fence until then.

      Over time you will be able to plant yourself like a tree and not be pushed. It takes time.

  10. quill*

    OP, if you haven’t already: block this recruiter’s number. You are NEVER going to get a good match from them and even if you did, their approach would negatively impact your ability to get the job!

    1. Pomegranate*

      I agree! To be honest, I thought that would be in Alison’s reply, that she would give OP her blessing to block the recruiter’s number.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      It can feel hard to do that when it comes to job searching. You feel want or need to keep yourself somewhat more open to things and/or not burn any bridges with recruiters or companies.

      But this was a prime example of when you can.
      Know that it’s OK to say NO to something. And then put your foot down firmly.

      1. it's me*

        In the current job market, there’s not so much of a need to reward recruiters with poor practices.

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*


      Put that recruiter on every block list imaginable: phone calls, e-mail, social media, whatever. They’re more interested in getting a “sale” than in respecting your boundaries, and you don’t need them.

    4. Janeric*

      And if you run into a similar situation in the future, it’s OK to block their number for a week or two while you’re busy, and claim nebulous “phone issues” if confronted. Blocking doesn’t have to be permanent.

    5. SW*

      I worked for a terrible recruiter for two weeks. She made so many superfluous and pushy calls that her clients the hiring managers would stop receiving her calls.
      Odds are this recruiter is just as annoying to the hiring manager but they’re out of options for better, less desperate recruiters.

  11. penny dreadful analyzer*

    Alison’s got good advice for what to do if another recruiter ever pulls these shenanigans, but for this one, it seems to me like it’s about time to block their number.

  12. OlympiasEpiriot*

    In fact, people who won’t take no for an answer are actually the most important ones to say no to.

    Cross-stitch this on a pillow NOW!

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*


        I mean, afaik, I am not ND and the repeated call backs w/o leaving a message and w/o leaving me alone and not taking no for an answer would have me screaming at someone.

        Jedi Hugs for the OP/LW. They should feel free to not bother with this recruiter ever again!

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yeah, it’s enough to make me start wondering whether I might be ND! I mean, I only discovered I was an introvert a couple of years ago (having been labelled the family extravert by my even more introvert parents)

    1. KateM*

      Yes, that’s exactly how I have told my kids that if someone ever tells them they shouldn’t tell about this to their parents, it’s an absolutely sure sign that it’s something the SHOULD tell us about.

  13. ceiswyn*

    I also need time to process, dislike phone calls, and am easily pushed into things ‘in the moment’. After spending £3000 on new windows I didn’t want or need, I made myself a Rule.

    When someone pushes something at me, I tell them I need to think and ask for details to get back in touch. If they press me for an immediate decision then the answer is an absolute, unchangeable no and I communicate that as bluntly as it takes to make the person who is causing me unnecessary stress just GO AWAY.

    1. generic_username*

      Yep! “If I can’t have time to make a decision then my answer will need to be no” and repeat it over and over again.

      1. MicroManagered*

        One of my practiced lines: “I won’t be able to think through this while we’re on the phone, so I’ll get back to you by date/time.” and then “Again, I won’t be able to think all the way through this while I’m on a phone call” over and over.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Hard agree. And I’m also inclined to be very clear that had they given me time, the decision might have been different so it is entirely their fault that they aren’t getting the sale.

    3. Hks*

      I used to have a boss who would say something along the lines of, “if I have to answer now, it’s a no. Would you like to give me some time to think about it?”

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Yes! An important lesson I learned after having a salesman in.my.house for two hours who refused to acknowledge any and all hints that it was time for him to go (including me setting the dinner table with plates for just me and my husband) is that if someone ignores your hints, you are cleared to be crystal clear. “Thank you for the information, I’m going to walk you to the door now” is not rude, and anyone who ignores it gets increasingly blunt statements up to and including “get out of my house.”

      Incidentally, the other lesson I learned is to never let a salesperson in your house and if it is absolutely unavoidable to set a timer on your phone “whoops, that’s my reminder that I have to move on to my next appointment. Have a great day, goodbye.” My next appointment may or may not just be “time without salesperson” but…that’s still an appointment!

      1. LimeRoos*

        I also may have had a run in with a similar salesman… the vacuum was awesome, but no way would I ever buy one now. We did the same – talked about dinner, start prepping… Dude just joked he’d like some of our steak. (Which we aged for 45 days, so like, no random dude, you are not getting our steak). Mr. Roos had to actually threaten to call the cops, and then the dude stood outside in the street berating his associate and Mr. Roos had to yell out the window that the dude is an asshole and his associate is fine to get them to finally leave. Feel bad for the associate, I hope he found another better job. (I may have Facebooked the whole encounter and need to find the timestamps, but I believe it took about 3 ish hours from start to finish, maybe 4). Our living room carpet was insanely clean though.

        But yes! There’s so much good advice in this comment section – practice, scripts, repeat saying no, and I’m totally stealing the idea from this specific thread because I also suck at saying no (mall kiosks are the worse) but telling people it’s an immediate no unless you let me think is awesome. I’m going to be practicing those specific scripts myself.

  14. anonymous73*

    The best advice I can give when someone won’t leave you alone is to block them. Block their number, block their email, block every form of connection you have to them. In this case, the fact that you’re neurodivergent is irrelevant. This recruiter is obnoxious and should have left you alone after the first time you explained the job wasn’t a good fit. After that, all bets are off as far as you being accommodating and cordial.

  15. PT*

    The way I handle intrusive phone calls that I’m not able to filter out (sometimes they come from a local area code, and I do often need to answer those because they could be the doctor, a service company I’ve hired, they come from the same outgoing number as a business I use, etc.) is by cutting them off and saying “Oh I’m so sorry, I don’t (take political phone calls/talk to telemarketers), have a good day!” and then hang up.

    Just like I don’t have to answer *my* front door to whatever rando turns up, I don’t have to talk to whatever rando calls *my* phone. The *my* is in asterisks, to emphasize that both the front door and the phone are mine to control.

  16. I should really pick a name*

    Because I don’t think this was explicitly stated:

  17. Bluburry*

    Yeah… in my state this is borderline harassment. If you keep getting calls from the recruiter, consider getting a protective or restraining order.

    1. Colette*

      That seems unlikely to work, and it’s certainly overkill. Just tell the recruiter not to contact you again.

    2. Jora Malli*

      Unless the recruiter has been making credible threats of violence, most police departments/courts would not even consider this.

      Just tell the recruiter not to contact you again, and if they don’t listen, block their number and their email.

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      … the police aren’t interested, nobody’s life or bodily integrity is in danger.

  18. generic_username*

    Recruiters are weird. I had one get mad at me for canceling an interview after I had just accepted a job offer from another company. He said it made me look unprofessional and that I should go to the interview regardless of whether I was unable to accept the job. I felt really guilty about it and really felt like I had put myself in a position where I’d never be able to get a job at that company…

    Years later, I’m realizing that the people meant to interview me probably didn’t care that much at all – they just got an hour of their time back and didn’t waste it on a candidate who would not be able to accept their offer, lol. The recruiter was just upset because he wasn’t the person who got the $$ from placing me (it was an external recruiter).

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yes, this! I’ve never done hiring, but I can imagine being pretty annoyed if I ended up taking time out of my day for someone who knew they were absolutely not going to take the job I was trying to fill. Cancelling is the professional thing to do!

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      What if they had liked you? And asked you to stay or called the next day? And then you would have said, “oh, I already accepted another job. I thought it would be unprofessional to cancel.”
      And they would have told you, that’s not what professional means.
      And when they asked the recruiter why he sent you, he’d have said he didn’t know. And he’d be shocked that you hadn’t LIED FOR HIM because he’s a selfish jerk who only cared about himself.

      1. generic_username*

        Exactly! The only relationship I ruined in that exchange was the one with the recruiter who chose to emotionally manipulate me, so that’s a win, lol.

  19. MistOrMister*

    Also, in the even that you get roped into an interviee you don’t want to do – you can always cancel!!! I don’t think it would be inappropriate at all to email the recruiter after the phone call where you’d been pushed to agree with the interview and tell them that, on reflection, you don’t think the place will be a good fit and have decided not to go through with the interview. Or, if you don’t care about working with that recruiter again tell them flat out (via email still) that they were too pushy and you only agreed to interview because they put you on the spot and you will not be showing up. But if you plan to try to salvage a relationship with them, the first way would probably be better.

    1. RB*

      I like this idea. “Family emergency” or “Not feeling well” should suffice. You don’t need to go into details.

      1. Nope.*

        And then they’ll ask to reschedule. Better to just say you’re withdrawing your name from consideration. If they ask why, decline to answer.

    2. JustA___*

      “Upon consideration, I have decided that I do not wish to pursue this opportunity. Best wishes with filling this role. As a reminder, please contact me via email if you feel you have any roles you would like me to consider in the future.” OR, you know, “Please don’t contact me again about this role, as I have a number of competing priorities and do not have time to discuss it further.”

  20. LW*

    Hello, LW here! Thank you so much for this and the helpful comments already.

    Just to clarify a couple of things (some of which is info I cut out of my initial letter for word count)

    – one of the many red flags that came up, both in research and interview, was that they were clearly desperate to fill this role ASAP as it had been empty for several weeks, and this industry is not one where roles like this generally stay empty for long. So I’m pretty certain that’s why they persisted – nobody else was biting.
    – the recruiter followed me on multiple social media profiles which I think may have played into the ‘knowing’ bit (although other recruiters follow me on the same channels, know about my dual professional lives, and this issue hasn’t happened before, so…yeah).
    – without going too much into the specifics (because it might identify people), I don’t believe this was a case of KPIs, pressure from above etc., although I certainly believe commission was in play.
    – I’ve no idea if I can get my voicemails emailed to me (am not in US) but I like this as a future solution!
    – @ceiswyn – your approach is how I usually am! Which in retrospect I think says a lot that it ended up not happening anyway.

    Thank you again Alison and everybody, I genuinely appreciate the thoughtful advice.

    1. KateM*

      Yesterday someone called me while I was in the middle of lesson. I was guilty of forgetting to set my phone on mute, so, I rejected the call and set my phone on mute then and there. Surely if you are trying to hit deadlines it’s not THAT different from being in classroom? Set your phone to mute until the expected end of your workday. :)

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Please don’t attribute any of this to neurodivergence or anything that has to do with you at all.
      I assure you, Will Rogers never met that man.

    3. Popinki*

      Yes, if a position that is normally easy to fill has gone vacant for a significant length of time, there’s a reason for it. Lousy salary, toxic culture, horrible management, or all of the above.

    4. Nanani*

      Feels like a good time to pre-empt the oh-so-helpful people who always recommend Google Voice with a reminder that this service specifically only works in the USA. Where LW is not.

      Enjoy your life free of this recruiter, LW!

      1. Brightwanderer*

        Unfortunately it looks like the voicemail transcription stuff is similar, although some networks in the uk apparently support some of it.

    5. Kevin Sours*

      You should be able to get specific numbers to go straight to voicemail without ringing for those instances where you don’t want to take the call but don’t want to fully block for some reason. Then you can deal with them when time and energy allow.

    6. LC*

      In addition to visual voicemails, (some?) Android phones can do automatic call screening, I think something like that would be worth looking into.

      I keep my ringer on silent (it’s usually within eye sight, so I can still see if someone is calling), and when I see someone calling, I can:
      a) pick up the phone (rare, unless I’m expecting a specific call, or it’s my dad).
      b) swipe it away to decline.
      c) hit the “screen call” button, which then plays a message to the person calling saying I’m using a screening service, please state your name and why you’re calling, and the person will get the message and can start speaking a response.

      But the best part is the live transcription of what the caller says. So if they do happen to be someone I want to speak to (again, rare), I can pick up the phone to talk to them. Otherwise I just ignore it or swipe it away.

      Sometimes I can tell as soon as they say their name, sometimes I need the next couple of sentences to get the context, but either way it’s super helpful. Even if it’s someone I want to talk to, having them state why they’re calling so I know what they want before I pick up helps a ton with the anxiety of answering.

      Also, even if I want to talk to them, maybe I just need 30 seconds to gather my thoughts and mentally prepare myself, then I can call back right away. (I usually use the “sorry, just missed you, my phone was out of reach!” excuse if I feel the need to provide one.)

      As a fellow neurodivergent person, I definitely hope you can look into this or something similar.

    7. Nesprin*

      Worth noting that lots of people have lots of reasons to not answer the phone at lots of time.

      I work in a lab where there’s some times I just can’t answer the phone, and anyone who’d hold being wrist deep in something untoward and thus unable to answer the phone against me isn’t someone I want to work with.

      If they want to hire me, they should be at least marginally cogent of the fact that my time is valuable, and what the easiest/fastest way to get in touch is.

    8. Sweet Christmas!*

      I picked up the first two from the vibe of your letter! I figured that she was being so pushy because they were having a hard time filling the role, which is even more reason to run far away from this.

    9. Batgirl*

      Some people really are so invested at getting past the word “no”, that no script or tone of firmness in the world will get them to accept it. You go so far as to sum it all up in writing, in black and white, and they still say: “Aw, I’m sure we can talk about it some more”. Truly these are the people that blocking was invented for.

  21. Anastassia*

    No is a complete sentence. I like to practice just saying no, and stopping. No need to explain, just No, until it stops.

  22. astral debris*

    “People who won’t take no for an answer are actually the most important ones to say no to.”

    Can someone please embroider this on a throw pillow for me?

  23. Alex*

    I think part of this question is “Is there anything I could have done to change the behavior of this other person without upping my own defenses more than makes me comfortable,” and the answer to that question is almost always no.

    It is uncomfortable when you put boundaries in place and someone challenges them, because your only options are to allow them to stomp your boundaries, or put energy into enforcing your boundaries and experiencing the discomfort that comes with it (the discomfort that boundary stompers count on for their success!). That is why boundary stompers suck so much–either way you slice it, you have to be uncomfortable.

  24. GameDevPerson*

    Oof. This is a reason I use a Google Voice number for recruiters when I’m searching for jobs. I just let it expire after I’m done job hunting. They can still (and do) reach out via LinkedIn and email, but at least I don’t get multiple calls a day from the same people.

  25. RB*

    Now that I’m working from home, I like to use “I’ve got something on the stove” or “someone’s at the door.” These don’t work as well from the office, obvs. If it’s during the workday, I use “I have a meeting starting in a few minutes that I need to prep for” or, “sorry, I was just running out the door to an appointment.” It helps if you sound a bit frantic. And then if they keep going you literally just say “sorry, bye” and hang up.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Yes! And your appointment can even just be “time that is not spent with Person Who Will Not Take No For An Answer.”

    2. Emotional support capybara*

      One time I got a couple of those very excuses tangled up somewhere between my brain and mouth and told the unwanted caller I had someone on the stove. Yep.

      Cons: lived in lowkey fear of the law knocking on my door with a warrant to search my fridge for leftover long pork for a week or so

      Pros: got rid of the caller real quick

    3. Sweet Christmas!*

      I love “I gotta run” because most people assume it’s for my next meeting.

  26. Cobol*

    OP I’m more than mildly neurodivergent as well. I think a lot of us are trying to avoid mistakes we’ve made in the past, and often overcoming reoccurring micro traumas. Some people just don’t understand or don’t care about people who’s brains are different.

    It’s okay to disregard somebody who isn’t respecting your boundaries, especially if they’re a less significant contact. It’s them not you. In this case since phones are triggering you can block the number so you don’t see the calls.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      I’d go farther and say pushy people don’t care about others at all. Many years ago I was in a sales consulting job and my boss said, “Pushy people are being selfish. They care about their own needs not yours.”
      When a person gets pushy that means they’re thinking only of themselves and is a sign you need to shut them down by any means necessary. They are not going to do what’s best for you or even consider you.

      1. Cobol*

        I agree with this too. Sometimes when you are neurodivergent it’s hard to trust your own feelings/perceptions, i.e. determining whether somebody is being pushy in this case.

        For myself, as I learned to navigate the world, an important step was to recognize that it wasn’t always me.

  27. Suprisingly ADHD*

    I have the exact same issue talking on the phone (or in person with someone pushy). I found out that my best bet is “send me the details in writing, I need to make sure I understand all the details about this” on repeat, exactly like that. “Cool, email that to me so I can decide.” “I’m out of time, but send me an email!” My rule (to myself) is, I can’t do anything until I have been able to READ it, because my audio processing is garbage at best, and my memory has more holes than a sieve.

    I hate pushy phone people, and this is the only way I’ve found to make it stop. Arguing, giving my reasons, explaining why, just give them more chances to push, to make your reasoning sound like excuses, and make you feel like a bad person for saying no.

    1. LC*

      I love this advice! I’m going to (try to) remember it for next time I’m in some kind of similar situation.

    2. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

      Yeah, even with people who aren’t being pushy, I sometimes agree to something in person that sounds perfectly reasonable… and then given time to process that information, I remember issues that didn’t make it through the various external organization aids (calendars are my friend, but sometimes things just escape you) and whoops, that time won’t actually work or this is really not a logical approach.

      I mean, in this case, the recruiter was also pushy in a way that was objectively unreasonable, but even without a bad actor you can still have issues.

  28. WonkyStitch*

    I’m also neurodivergent and hate phone calls; I will usually ignore calls because 9.99% of the time, the client emails me their question shortly after leaving me a voicemail.

    I wish I could put something on my email signature that email works best for contacting me with questions but I wonder if that would seem off-putting to clients?

    1. OrigCassandra*

      I don’t think that would be a huge problem. Even less of one if you quantify it: “email typically answered within X hours; phone calls returned in X+Y hours.”

    2. Nanani*

      Nah, go for it. The people who don’t read signatures or think their preferences matter more aren’t going to change, but there will be those who see it and think “great ! I don’t like phones either” or otherwise email you when they might have called instead.

  29. MissDisplaced*

    Just. Wow.
    This situation is most definitely NOT YOU dear OP.
    And neurodivergent or not, it is incredibly rude and unprofessional to expect you, as a potential candidate, to drop everything to take a phone call or meeting about this job without first requesting some possible times first via email. Especially given you had looked over the posting and told the recruiter you didn’t think it was a good fit. How incredibly rude and condescending to think they know better than you. Unbelievable. It made me feel stressed on your behalf just reading it.

    I can only think the company is now *desperate* and pushing that recruiter hard to find candidates. But still, it is no excuse to behave like that. Admit though there was a small chuckle too, because man, what a bullet you dodged with that hot mess of a company. Used the force well you have Padawan.

  30. Candy*

    > is there anything I could have done, or should have done, or not have done?!

    When you’re on deadline and have a firm no-phone-calls boundary shut down, put on silent mode, turn on Focus, or download an app that automatically forwards your calls to text or email.

    If you absolutely do have to take a call from a recruiter who you already know you don’t want to work with, firmly decline their offer and don’t under any circumstances agree to meet with them. Treat them the same as you would a telemarketer — a simple “no thanks!” then hang up.

  31. KRM*

    I got an unexpected phone call from a recruiter a couple weeks ago, which I only answered because I was expecting a call from some service people. When he launched into his “I just wanted to talk to you about this opening we have that you’d be perfect for” I just said “Oh, no, no, I don’t think so” and hung up. And bonus is that he hasn’t called back! Win!

  32. Fluffy Fish*

    Hi OP you seem like a nice reasonable person and often nice reasonable people can feel like certain behaviors such as blocking numbers or sending to voicemail are rude.

    If this is the case, please know that those actions are perfectly reasonable responses to people who are behaving rudely. Other people are not entitled to your time or energy.

    1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      This is great advice. People who have demonstrated they do not respect your boundaries are not entitled to continued access to you.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I think it’s Captain Awkward who says that once someone has violated the social contract, you are free from having to respond to them within the confines of the social contract. Reasons are for reasonable people only!

  33. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    Letter Writer, this sounds incredibly frustrating and it’s no wonder you felt like you had no option but to cave. I may be wrong, but I thought I picked up some sense from your letter that you anticipate working with this specific recruiter again–that some of what motivated your question is to be better prepared to enforce your boundaries with this person because you need his help. You do not need his help. His help will not actually help you. You have lots of evidence to make it easy to decide you are not going to work with this person again (unless he is the only way to gain access to a hiring process for your dream job–but even then, try to find a way around him): he doesn’t listen, violates your clear boundaries, tries to convince you to do things you don’t want, is not interested in you input on issues like fit, will call you repeatedly, will be rude to you when you don’t do what he wants. You will be better off without that kind of help, full stop.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      If this is a recruiting firm that is prominent in your area of expertise and region, you may need to work with them in the future. If that’s the case, contact management in the firm and tell them you will not work with that specific recruiter ever again.

  34. Jean*

    Before I started reading AAM, I thought the several weird, off putting run-ins I had had with recruiters were because of me or something I was doing. Turns out, some of them are just… like this.

  35. Florida Fan 15*

    LW, the one piece of advice I’ll offer here is to reconsider your perspective on boundaries.

    Most people think boundaries are about getting someone else to do or stop doing something. I disagree. To me, your boundaries are to stop YOU from letting other people push you into things or put up with stuff you don’t want. Boundaries are about YOUR actions, not theirs.

    So, when you put up a boundary and the other person pushes back, the boundary hasn’t failed because the goal wasn’t to get them to act a certain way. The only time a boundary fails is when you give in. You didn’t give in, LW, so your boundary DID work. You didn’t get the outcome (i.e., the recruiter’s actions) you wanted, but your goal of putting up a boundary and sticking to it was a success.

  36. Jen*

    As a parent and teacher of teens, I often tell (young) folks, “The answer is maybe, but if you press me right now, it’s no.” or “Now that I’ve said ‘no’ a couple of times, I’m pretty much locked into ‘no’ for eternity, so I’m not just training you that nagging works.”

    Now I’m thinking that’s pretty much rules for living.

    1. allathian*

      That’s true, sort of. But as a parent I learned early that it’s much easier to change a no into a yes than vice versa, although my son also learned early that he can’t change my mind by nagging.

  37. Nanani*

    This recruiter sucks and isn’t going to change.
    The good thing is you don’t work for them, they aren’t entitled to your time, and you can block them guilt-free.

  38. Bookworm*

    Sorry that happened to you, OP. I don’t think there was much differently you could/should have done–these types won’t take no for an answer. Alison’s last paragraph really hit it home, I think (thanks for the answer, Alison!). These types have no boundaries and as others have said, will try to have the conversation they want, rather than accept the conversation for what it is. You’re much better off.

    Good luck for search, though! Hopefully it’s nothing like this. O_o

  39. Person from the Resume*

    No is a complete sentence.

    But also you do not ever have to talk to this recruiter on the phone again. You don’t have to answer, and you don’t have to call him back. I’d consider blocking his number because I wouldn’t want to deal with his pushiness ever again. If you do think you’d be willing to do business with him just not about this job, then ignore all phone calls for the next month or two. Don’t even listen to voice mail.

  40. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    I figure part of the last bit is that they’re mad at you for not taking the job, but they can’t say they’re mad about that (because that would be super weird), so instead they made up a complaint about your professionalism for e-mailing.

  41. Koala dreams*

    I’m reading the suggestions in the comments with interest. Phone harassment is such a common problem! Unfortunately many unscrupulous people use the fact that some people have difficulties saying no or hanging up the phone. You did very well, I really like the idea to email and cancel after the phone call. I’m stealing that!

    Some other ideas:
    Put your phone in flight mode. This is good for when you need a break from incoming calls/messages/whatever, for example while you change the phone settings.

    Send all calls to voicemail. If you don’t like voicemail, you can record a voice mail message asking people to text or email and set up voice mail so people can’t actually leave a voice message for you. (I’m not sure if you can do that set up on your phone or if you need to contact the phone company, it was a while since I looked into it.)

    Practice saying “No thanks”. This short phrase is useful in many situations, and has saved me a lot of money and problems. On the phone, you can then hang up right after. It might seem rude, but actually it’s polite to end the phone call instead of wasting time on a phone call that’s going nowhere.

    With reasonable companies you can often email and ask to be taken off their list and not be contacted again. This recruiter doesn’t seem reasonable, but it might be worth a try.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      If you don’t like voicemail, do what former boss did with his personal voice mail. He recruited everyone he knew to call and leave long VM messages (I just set my phone in front of a radio until the VM timed out) until his VM box was full. Then he set his message to something like, “Yes, I know my mailbox is full. Please email or text me.” I just checked, it’s still full.

  42. Kella*

    OP, just wanted to say I feel absolutely the same way as you do about phone calls, and I used to work as a receptionist! I also relate to the feeling of having no control over how the conversation went when you were pushed into an unplanned phone call. I once spent about 20 minutes on the phone with a scammer before I recognized the scam, simply because they were bullying me the whole way. Thankfully I recognized it before any serious damage was done.

    I also cannot answer unplanned phone calls and even when I’m in control of when I’m making a phone call, I have to really gear myself up for it mentally. I typically do best if I write myself a script to read for the parts of the conversation I know will happen. Interestingly, I do way better with zoom calls, I think because the facial cues help me process the auditory information.

    I’m so sorry this recruiter bullied you in this way! I don’t know if this helps at all but it really helps me to think of boundaries as agreements to myself, not rules that compel someone else to act in a certain way. So, I have an agreement with myself that I won’t continue communicating with someone who is ignoring my stated needs around communication. If someone is doing this, I need to block their number, turn off my phone, email them to end contact, etc. I can’t control how they’ll react to my boundaries but I control how I go about enforcing them.

  43. late for breakfast*

    I agree with everything Alison said except for what OP’s biggest mistake was. The biggest mistake was thinking that a recruiter is there to “help to navigate what I’m actually doing next.” That is not what the recruiter is there for; they are there to fill jobs for the employers who pay them, full stop. A good recruiter cares about making good placements because it is good for their business, not because your career is their business. It is not. Stop relying on recruiters for that.

    1. LW*

      I think this wasn’t worded quite right on my part, so just to clarify: I meant ‘navigate’ in terms of ‘once I have decided what it is I’m actually doing that works with longer-term goals, let’s approach some recruiters I’ve worked with before and see what might be out there that looks like this, which might include this recruiter’. Not ‘please, recruiter, tell me what to do!’ Your point is taken, though :)

  44. theletter*

    I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling an external recruiter that “there are more red flags than a semaphore convention”. For one thing, that’s hilarious, and for another, they don’t work for that company, they’re trying to sell you to them as an asset. You can be honest with them about your concerns.

    As for the phone calls, I think there’s a setting that will send all unknown callers straight to voicemail. It’s done wonders for my focus.

  45. Maudefindlay*

    Write out a script for turning down interviews and keep it handy and just keep repeating it.

  46. Daisy-dog*

    I also get pressured into doing things when I’m on the phone with people in sales type roles. It’s a common issue, so I would say that this case has nothing to do with you. It was an overly pushy recruiter who was desperate to fill the position.

  47. ecnaseener*

    I know this wasn’t the most egregious part of the recruiter’s behavior, but IMO it ranks: sounds like they were just calling and calling and never even leaving a voicemail? I haaaaaate when people do that to me, especially people like recruiters who are trying to convince me of something.

    I never know whether to chalk it up to an innocent difference in communication style – for people who really strongly prefer real-time conversation, maybe they genuinely don’t understand the point of voicemail – but in this case it was clearly a deliberate tactic to stomp on the boundaries LW was trying to set. Ew.

    1. LW*

      Yup, it was calls with no voicemails. I don’t mind being nudged, and if a voicemail had been left, I could have emailed back and cleared it up that way, but…nope :-/

      1. Nesprin*

        I’ve also changed my voicemail message to “You’ve reached Nesprin. The fastest way to get in touch with me is my email addy Nesprin@N.com, or to text me at this number. If you insist on leaving a voicemail, I’ll get back to you eventually.”

    2. Batgirl*

      I really dislike leaving/receiving voicemails but would never communicate like this recruiter has. For me, my phone shows me if someone has tried to reach me and I’ll know whether or not I want to call them back on the basis of the missed call. I’ll find out the details from them when I call them back! I really hate having to check my voicemail and clear it as an extra step, especially when it’s usually no more detailed than “It’s X and I tried to call you”. If it’s me who’s calling, and they have no idea who I am or why I would be calling, I’d be more inclined to follow up with an email: “Hi, I tried calling you earlier today and just wanted to know what’s happening in case I don’t reach you….”

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, I think that’s fine. The thing I hate is repeated calls with no voicemail and no email, so you have zero information other than “I want to talk to you and I’m going to insist on it being real-time at a time of my choosing. No, it hasn’t occurred to me that you might have other priorities to weigh against my call.”

        And yeah, voicemails without any information are the worst of both worlds!

  48. SW*

    If you had written this to Captain Awkward instead of AAM, she would have pointed out that it’s this recruiter who who is making this awkward, not you, and so it’s only fair to return that awkwardness to them. That and reasonable responses are only for reasonable people. Unreasonable people have proven that they don’t deserve them.

  49. Courageous cat*

    This recruiter absolutely sucks first and foremost. But, you probably should work on developing more… assertiveness. You don’t owe random people anything. Work on saying no and holding the line. Block their number if you have to.

  50. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP – one simple trick you can do is to block this recruiter’s phone number.

    Doesn’t sound like they respect you, and do you think you’ll ever want anything they offer?

    There are plenty of recruiters and jobs out there. Sounds like you don’t need this one in your life

  51. LittleMarshmallow*

    Return awkwardness to sender and just hang up on them if they won’t let up too. Oh sorry… we must’ve lost connection and btw I’m blocking your number don’t contact me again can be sent via text. Haha. I’m not very nice though.

  52. Dhaskoi*

    This is the recruitment version of the guy who nags women into dates then bitches about how they ‘led him on’.

  53. Ihaveaheadache*

    I had a similar experience with a recruiter back in ’08. I had gone through a phone interview, and an in person interview. The recruiter called me to setup another phone interview with a VP for later that afternoon which was kind of annoying, and I told the recruiter I wasn’t interested in pursing the opportunity any further and they would not let me get off the phone. I finally agreed to do the interview, and when I got the call I started off by saying I wasn’t interested and that was the end of it. I always felt like I could have handled that better but the recruiter was just so aggressive that I felt like I had to agree to do the interview just to get off the phone.

  54. CalT*

    LW, why do you answer the phone? They call you because you answer and engage in conversations with them. You can ignore the call, silence the phone, block the number. The recruiter isn’t making you do things you don’t want to, you are an active participant.

  55. Nazmazh*

    I mean, I kind of don’t have to care about professional norms right now due to not being able to work (boo-ray for chronic illness/conditions…), but, like if someone was this massively disrespectful of my clearly stated (and entirely reasonable) boundaries (heck, even if they weren’t all that reasonable), I’d be tempted to answer my phone rather rudely, with a few choice words that might or might not be appropriate here depending on exactly how aggravated I was, and tell them to permanently lose my number before blocking them for good measure.

    …I mean, I’d at least probably really, *really* fantasize about doing that and probably do a much milder version of that when push came to shove. Like, at least hopefully refuse to do any interviews with the company I’d outright rejected and reassert my boundaries and give a final warning about the phone call thing.

  56. Lp2*

    I can’t stand this type of pushy recruiter! I had one call me everyday during a 4 week recruitment process. By week 2 I asked him to only call with updates not just to check I was still interested. By week 3 I didn’t pick the phone up to him. I ended up taking the job but I was ready to decline solely based on his pushiness. I certainly mentioned it to hr after I had been in position for a few weeks.

    Op, set boundaries and remember you’re the product, the recruiter needs you.

  57. LW*

    Hello again! Just to answer a couple of questions in the thread:

    – I ended up answering firstly to say no (again), but also because as my fellow neurodivergents will probably appreciate, the repeated calls and then refusal to accept the ‘no’ ended up wearing down my executive function to the point I couldn’t do *anything* else until it went away. I don’t necessarily struggle to say ‘no’ in general, but a ‘no’ that the other person refuses to hear can derail an awful lot in my brain.

    – The interview was scheduled for early the next day, and between that and more in-depth research there was virtually no time to then turn around and say ‘actually, really no’. The industry is also one where people move around a lot and the hiring manager was relatively new (and, in fairness, didn’t really have any direct impact either way on my turning down the role because of everything else I discovered), so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that declining after agreeing to meet would lead to getting knocked out of other opportunities elsewhere. Of course, then I turned it down anyway and here we are!

    Thank you everybody for your helpful comments and suggestions. It turns out I don’t even have visual voicemail, never mind Google Voice access, so I probably need to get that sorted and am open to alternatives :)

  58. Nope, not today*

    I can’t tell if this is a recruiter you want to keep working with or not, but in your shoes I’d be tempted to send a final email letting them know that their lack of understanding about the work I am seeking, plus the mismatch in communication styles, means I’m requesting they lose my number. And then I’d block them. Problem solved.

  59. Lobsterman*

    It is a baseline Adulting skill to hang up on a conversation when necessary, and this story is an example of why.

    Just hang up.

  60. SassyAccountant*

    Not a specific comment on this person’s situation but I want to thank Alison for featuring more questions and scenarios from neurodivergent people. It makes me feel less alone and helps me navigate my own issues in the workplace.


  61. Quinalla*

    I’m not neurodivergent, but I’ve laid out to recruiters very specifically when I want to talk on the phone and when I don’t – for me it is about keeping the conversations private, not always being available when they want to talk and wanting time to think about their questions and respond (I’m need time to process). I wanted phone calls to be scheduled and for specific reasons – like debriefing after an interview or interview prep, otherwise email was better.

    If a recruiter can’t respect the way you prefer to work, they are a bad recruiter. Part of their job is to adjust their approach to you, the client. I would either stop working with this recruiter or give some feedback about the phone calls and the pushiness in an email to them and ask if they can use email going forward unless the call is scheduled in advance.

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