Workplace Reason enough not to interview someone?


Jan 29, 2006
We do not have an HR person in my small company, so almost all of us contribute to hiring efforts by reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, interviewing, etc.

I shocks me how off-guard or downright indifferent some people sound on the phone.

Me: "Hi Josh/Donna/Whomever, this is IntlSet from XXXX Company."
Job candidate: <Long pause>
Me: "Calling in regards to the resume you submitted to us?"
Job candidate: <Unenthused> Oh, okay. <Long pause>

Really? "Oh okay?" I get this response *all the time.*

I work in the design industry... I won't say specifically what my firm designs, but we're well-known within our field so that I usually assume when someone is applying to our firm, they've bothered to do some research, or have heard of us by reputation, etc. But I think half the reason for the responses of "Oh, okay" are just because they totally forgot they submitted their resume to us or submitted so many resumes they didn't bother keeping track of the companies' names.

I'm beginning to think that when I get this response, I'll just not interview them. Or is this too harsh? I just don't get why it's so hard to say, "Okay, great to hear from you," or "I'm glad you called." If the person doesn't even have that much tact or aplomb, should I bother intreviewing them? If they can't respond enthusiastically to an interview offer, will they bother being enthusiastic about the work our office produces or the tasks they engage with? These are genuine questions -- I have *no* HR experience. None of us do. Any opinions would be sincerely appreciated. If I'm being unreasonable, please let me know.

I will be the first to say I suck on the phone. I feel awkward and shy, but I have *always* managed to summon up a chirpy, "I'm glad you called," for a potential interviewer.
Aug 17, 2008
It's a little harsh. A lot of my friend have recently graded and have done ton of interviews. After being rejected so much people kind of lose their pep and try to play it cool. More of trying to make you think you need them more than they need you. I wouldn't rule someone out for it the first time, but if they are like this in person maybe it's a diff story.


Jan 3, 2006
I think it's a little harsh too. Like lovepurses said, they might be trying to play it cool. Or they might actually be totally called off-guard because they didn't expect to get a call back. Or they may be at their present place of employment and others might be around, and they wouldn't want to say anything that would suggest they were looking for other jobs. I understand why you would think that they aren't excited about the prospect of an interview, but I think it's a big assumption to make. Enthusiasm should be judged at the actual interview in my opinion.


Jun 4, 2007
i agreed - a little harsh.

when i get phone calls for interviews i get really nervous and just totally clam up. some people come off why different on the phone than they do in person. my response probably would have been "oh ok" too.


Jan 12, 2007
Tampa, Florida
I actually agree with the OP... DH and I own our own business and if when hiring someone they were like "oh okay" I would just "Call them back later" lol


Jun 4, 2007
^^ but she's talking about calling them about their resume or to schedule an interview, not to hire them, yet.

i agree that if calling them to let them know they're hired and they said "oh ok" then that might not sit well. when i'm called saying that i'm hired i say "that's great!!"


Oct 12, 2006
...After being rejected so much people kind of lose their pep and try to play it cool. More of trying to make you think you need them more than they need you. I wouldn't rule someone out for it the first time, but if they are like this in person maybe it's a diff story.
That makes sense to me. Have we not given pretty similar advice to job-hunters right here?

That said, it is a buyers' market, and there is a surplus of cheap labor, which means that as an employer, you really hold all the cards, and whom to reject or select is your call...
Aug 29, 2008
I don't think it's harsh at all. I am terrible on the phone and also get extremely nervous and discouraged. When I was younger I was very quiet and unenthusiastic in interviews (although I still managed to say thank you for calling!!), but a huge part of the reason was that I WASN'T enthusiastic and I wasn't prepared. Just because you feel discouraged and really wanted to GET the job, doesn't mean you actually wanted to DO the job, and the kind of person who quits saying thank you when job hunting isn't fun will also quit the job when the job isn't fun.

That said, if the candidate looks great in the resume/cover but is really inexperienced, you might give him/her the benefit of the doubt. But IMO you would be totally justified in passing over anyone who doesn't at least say thank you. Even if they are caught off-guard and just not that quick thinking, a good second test would be whether they thank you for your time at the end of the phone call.
Aug 29, 2008
After being rejected so much people kind of lose their pep and try to play it cool. More of trying to make you think you need them more than they need you.
Playing it cool shouldn't mean you can't still be polite. I also don't think "you'd be lucky to have me" is a good attitude to take with an employer. If that were true for those particular candidates, they wouldn't have been through so much rejection in the first place. And even if they were completely fabulous, a bad attitude is never a positive thing.


Dec 5, 2007
I think it really depends on the job. You mention you work in the design industry...would this position that you need filled need someone who's good at talking? I know a lot of capable people who are just shy, can't think very quick on the phone but once you get to know them or meet them in person they're a lot of fun, friendly, etc. If this person's resume warranted a phone call from you, then there might be something about them you'll like when you meet them.

In my industry, if you can't think quick and make good responses on the phone you're automatically outed because speaking to clients is a huge deal with us. A really good second question would be "We're still looking to hire ___ position, are you familiar with XXXXX company?" That way 1) you'd remind the applicant about the job he/she applied for since they probably apply to so many it's hard to keep track and 2) you can gauge whether they really were interested in your company because those who are would probably be able to find one or two things to say about your company.
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Jan 28, 2007
LOL- I would think the same thing as you, IntlSet. Personally I always try to sound professional on the phone. When people called me for interviews, I turned the switch right on, no matter how many times I'd been rejected. If they have a stellar resume that seems to be exactly what you're looking for, then I think perhaps it might be worth a shot to interview them. I would give them the chance, but reluctantly after that impression over the phone. But if they are among dozens of similar candidates, then really, first impressions are a big deal, and the "long pause" and "Oh, okay," are not a good first impression. It's a competitive market, so why waste time on people who aren't right there with you from the start?


Bella Enchanted
Oct 4, 2007
I would wait and see how the rest of the conversation goes first. I received a call from a bank that I was applying for an online bank account from and didn't recognize the caller ID number. It took me a moment or so to realize who was calling.

Whenever potential employers have called me I automatically switch into this peppy cheerleader-type voice that I don't recognize in any other situation.
Oct 30, 2006
I think it might be a more simple explanation. With caller id, everyone usually knows who is calling before they pick it up. Maybe they are just caught a little off guard when someone they don't know is calling.
Dec 14, 2006
I think you have to use your judgement in situations like that. There's a big difference between someone saying "oh, okay" like you're asking them for a favor that they don't want to do, and someone who says "oh okay" and you can tell that there's excitement in their voices. I think that the way people say things are sometimes more important that what they say. Anyone can say "oh I'm so happy to hear from you!" and still not know who they're talking to.

Vegas Long Legs

Nov 13, 2006
Depends on the position. If its for sales postion or someone that interfaces with customers alot, I'd pass to the next resume. These people need to be good natured naturally & not turn it off & on. They need to think quickly on their feet & happy to hear from anyone.

If its a bookkeeper, IT etc. I'd rather have someone competent at their job than friendly. So in that case, it wouldn't be a big deal.