Q & A – Handling an Unplanned Interview

Q & A Handling an Unplanned Interview
Q & A Handling an Unplanned Interview

Q & A Handling an Unplanned Interview

How do you prepare for an on-the-spot call from an interviewer? Or if they call you should YOU ask to set up a time? It seems I get caught off guard and not prepared when the interviewer just calls and says, ”I would like to discuss with you the job you applied for.”

Answer: I warn all of my clients to be “on deck” (ready) the minute you start applying to jobs or networking for new opportunities. That means:

  • Change your voicemail message to ensure it is professional. “Hello, this is and I’m sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message and I’ll get right back to you. Thank you.”
  • Change your auto-signature in your e-mail. Go into the settings and create an auto-signature that has your first and last name, phone number, and e-mail address. Why e-mail address? If the recipient wants to forward your e-mail your address may be lost from the address bar at the top.
  • Answering the phone: “Hello, this is Joe” instead of “Hey” or “Whattup.”

Now, for surprise interviews, there are two paths you can go down:

A. IF you are in a quiet place and have your notes with you for this company, then say “I would be happy to talk to you now. May I have a few minutes to get to a quiet place?”

B. IF you are not in a quiet place, or you are at work, or you don’t have your preparation with you, then say “I am very interested in talking to you. However, this is not a good time. Can we look at calendars together and set a phone meeting time?”

Either way, you should have your interview answers pre-scripted, especially for the most commonly asked interview questions. Additionally, you should have the job description at your fingertips so you can make your answers relevant to what the interviewer is looking for.

I am a mature Dallas paralegal who will be interviewing with local law firms. Of course a high-quality skirted business suit with conservative accessories is appropriate attire for when interviewing. Is a similarly-accessorized pantsuit of comparable quality an appropriate choice as well?

Answer: For women interviewees, a pantsuit is equally appropriate, formal, and effective as a skirted business suit. For maximum formality, the pantsuit should be a “set.” However, a wonderful jacket with solid slacks is also very nice. For cost savings, I have a few pairs of black slacks and a few nice blazers that all mix and match. Local consignment stores have beautiful garments, too!

For both genders, be sure you are focused on what you are carrying. Do you have a briefcase? How about a folio that you can place on the desk with copies of your credentials? And a pad and pen, since you will be taking notes, right? Leave laptops, coats, umbrellas, etc. in the car so you are not burdened with extra items you have to carry and manage.


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