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What to Say When an Interviewer Calls You at a Bad Time?


Have you ever faced a quadrangle where you’ve been asked to report at a certain time but you will be taken up with something else?

If YES, then this post is for you. Many times we are called by a recruiting manager to appear for a certain interview and we just cannot make it because we are busy.

When the phone rings with an unknown number, you can be sure that your next potential employer is calling you. But, you are not really in a situation to discuss, since you might be at the grocer’s, at the gym or maybe even running errands.

You might be faced with many questions on how to handle the call and you answer the phone with the fear that there won’t be another chance. However, a lot of us don’t know how to answer the question and ask for another time. If that’s you, then give this article a good read.

What to Say

What to Say When Interviewer Calls You?

1. Get the phone call done straight:

Since most of the jobs expect you to speak to one person or other who works for the company, it is extremely important to show how you will be answering calls whenever it comes to professional spheres. Try to be as professional as possible.

Your first impression shall give the interviewer a clear indication of you. It will also help other customers and vendors at the same time. You should eliminate the five seconds when they are feeling awkward and don’t know what to tell. If you go by our suggestion, we would say you must simply smile throughout the phone call.

Start with a simple hello and then confirm to the recruiter that he is speaking to the right person and is willing to make normal conversation. Try not to be too defensive and start with a condescending tone.

Just a positive response is more than enough to assure the employer that you’re a person with a welcoming personality. This also encourages the employer to carry on with the conversation on a positive note.

2. Show some enthusiasm and gratitude:

When you are on the phone, your attitude and your voice should be the first and most important criteria which are available to recruiters for valuation in such essential moments. This may also be the opportunity that you could be waiting for, so you should be happy about that too.

Regardless of however busy the scenario maybe, if you were given one second to speak on the phone, then try to end it positively. Try to build on that pleasant way as you have done before. You could thank them for calling you and say that you do hope to hear from them again.

Also, mention that you are super excited about such an opportunity since they met you. Try to show gratefulness and enthusiasm to the employer, since he/she was able to contact you. This also gives off a positive vibe that can be sensed by the interviewer through the phone. This gives off a good first impression to the interviewer and also helps to develop the phone conversation in a positive and fruitful direction. Positivity is a lifesaver when it comes to this kind of situation.

3. Always be honest:

If you can’t speak at that moment, it is completely alright but does not ever share the reason why. When you are speaking to a professional individual, who is at work and maybe he isn’t available at the moment, you will find that normally their assistants will inform you that they are busy at that moment but will get back to you later.

You could see that the assistant does not describe the reason for which the individual isn’t available for the moment. This is done so since the caller does not need to know the reason why that individual was not available. These kinds of information and reasons are irrelevant since they are not related to the caller.

Have you noticed the kind of behavior they have had? You should also maintain that same kind of professionalism, but there is no way you should say for a few minutes once you have completed what you were doing.

The main purpose of an honest conversation is to politely and firmly end the call. Then try to decide on a suitable date, which is compatible with both you and the interviewer. You are not obligated to tell for what reason you are not able to hold a conversation telephonically.

4. How should you end the call?

It is also essential to know how you should end the call. If you go by our suggestion, be as polite and as firm as you can. You should also show how professional you are and what initiatives you are taking while setting up your call.

It is almost like a date. Whenever you ask a person out and they say they cannot make it, you always have to think whether they have a proper day they are going to be free in. However, the feeling is never really good.

The case would be somewhat different if they say that they aren’t free today but sure can make time for you on a Thursday. Wouldn’t you be happy hearing that? So when you are answering the question and in case you are busy, just politely say that you will get back to them an hour later.

Try to end the phone conversation on a note that you will contact them back since you were not able to attend the call properly. During this process, try to ensure that you are not giving off a feeling to the interviewer that you are being desperate for the job or you are just simply idling all day doing nothing productive.

5. Other important points you should remember:

Know that saying no at that moment is important and very crucial. You need to know how to say no but in the right way. If you don’t say no, you will not be able to sell your point across.

So what you must do in this scenario is trying to establish a healthy and simple boundary. If you feel that saying no will make people feel uncomfortable then try to show that you care about them and their phone call.

Also, try to avoid to speak at a fast pace. It is given that an unexpected call from the employer can be a bit stressful, especially if you are not in a compromising situation. Then speak slowly and make it clear to the interviewer that you are not able to connect to the call and hold a conversation.

If you speak too fast, then it would be seen as rude behavior to the interviewer, even if it wasn’t unintentional. Also, use supportive languages to give out an affirmative and approving first impression. Inform the interviewer that you are available for the position and is very much interested in the job.

6. Be very honest with them:

Next, be very honest with them. Yes, it is very easy to lie and elaborate a whole story. But in case you do that, you could simply risk your credibility.

It could threaten relationships regardless of whether they are professional or business. Try not to delve too much into the various reasons and factors why you couldn’t attend the phone call.

Most of the employers would take this behavior as whiny and complaining and nobody wants a whining employee, who complains for the simplest reasons.

The best method you could do is reply with a truthful and honest answer. Towards the end, being honest matters a lot. For example, if you have refused an invitation, you may say that it sounds like a good opportunity but at the moment it doesn’t suit you.

Being truthful will not hurt your chances of acceptance by the interviewer. There is nothing bad in admitting that you do not have a flexible schedule that will allow you to attend a phone conversation. But if you are both truthful and rude, then it is a given that the employer might reconsider the position. Try to be subtle, yet forceful when you inform the employer that you are not free to attend the call.

7. Make a good impression:

Lastly, you must remember to make a good impression. However, that can only be possible when you speak nicely the minute you pick up the call. We know you were eager for the phone to come so just be nice and cordial right from the start.

Making a good impression is necessary and very important. You should be a fun and nice and pleasant person to speak to. If you can do that, you sure will make a brilliant impression in front of the person who has called you.

They will genuinely believe that you are busy and are unavailable for them but will get back soon. Try to be as positive and smart as possible about the situation. This gives the employer the impression that you are very cool and compose under stress and that you can handle sudden emergencies and situations in a professional manner.

Also, as a sign of professionalism show that your interest in further contacting and keeping in touch with the interviewer. Mention a follow-up, if the situation feels right.

8. Do not use automated answering machine or voice mails:

If you are not able to attend the phone call, then the next thing that you could do is to not use any automated answering machines or voice mails to save the message.

Most employers and interviewers refrain from using such methods since they are sharing confidential information. Also, it is always advisable that you should attend the phone call instead of any other person. Since a piece of important information is being shared, you should be on the receiving end.

Do not ask anyone to take messages from interviewers, this consider as a rude behavior from the candidate. Many employers take this as a sign of negligence and the employer will feel that the candidate is not that serious, loyal or interest in attending the interview or to accept the job.

You do not want to give a wrong impression to the employer on the first stage itself. Being careless about not attending the phone interview might even result in you losing the chance to attend the job selection process.

If you do have an answering machine or voice mail, then try to ensure that you will call the employer after a minimum amount of time. Apologize to the employer since you couldn’t attend the phone call and schedule a time that is comfortable for both the employer and the candidate. This shows that you are enthusiastic about the job and that you are happy to be part of the company.


This brings our article to an end. When you have been called for an interview and you find out the timing is completely wrong, make sure to be polite as much as possible and end the conversation in a proper and friendly note.

Whenever handling any kind of call, make sure you handle it professionally, so that the employer reassures about your behavior and persona. This also shows how well you’ll behave to future customers and clients while working as a part of the job.

The ideas that have been enlisted to you above are very simple and effective as well. They will surely help you in the long run. On that note, good luck. Also if you have any feedback regarding the post, do let us know in the comment box below. We will for sure get back to you.