Good news! An employer has contacted you with an invitation to interview for a position. How you respond is an important first step toward ultimate success in securing the job. Follow these tips to make a favorable first impression with the hiring organization. Pay attention to your timing, tone and details.
Respond in a quick but not desperate manner. A few hours within receipt of an email or voicemail is sufficient; always get back within the current workday. Your response should match the communications medium that the employer used or requested. So, if you receive an email, it is best to respond by email. If the recruiter called you by phone, then respond by phone. Of course, if the employer requested certain instructions be followed, then do so.
At all times be courteous, professional and respectful. Use the name of the person who contacted you, and use the same level of formality they used with you. On an email, use a subject line that will stand out in the recipient’s inbox. Imagine a human resources manager, recruiter or hiring manager who may be trying to fill multiple positions. Address the details that the employer will need to efficiently schedule your interview.
For example: “Subject: Marketing Director Interview Response — Mary Jones.”
Introduce yourself and immediately tie your response to the open position. Express your interest and enthusiasm, and then confirm logistical details. These will include dates and times that you are available, confirmation of the interview location (physical or virtual, phone or video), the dress expectations (if unclear) and any specific requirements like bringing work samples or references. Specify time zones and confirm locations.
Finish with a review of your contact information and a pleasant and professional closing.
If leaving a voicemail, speak clearly and slowly, spell your last name and leave your phone number and email at both the beginning and the end. It is a courtesy to the recipient that he or she will not have to replay the message to confirm the details.
Email Response Example
Subject: Logistic Manager Position — Susan Gonzales
Dear Ms. Smith,
I am very excited that you wish to interview me for the Logistics Manager position at XYZ Company. I look forward to showing you how my skills, education and experience are perfect fits for your need.
Please let me know if any of the following dates and times work for your schedule:
Aug. 10 at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. or 5 p.m. (all times are Eastern)
Aug. 11 at 12 p.m. or 5 p.m.
Aug. 12 at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.
If none of those times are convenient, please let me know and I can offer dates further out.
I will assume that the interview will take place at XYZ headquarters at 123 Main Street unless I hear otherwise. Please let me know if you want me to bring anything other than my resume and a few work samples.
I very much look forward to meeting you in person.
Phone Voice Mail Example
A voicemail will contain the same information as an email, but the applicant should start and end with contact information and spelling. For example:
Good morning. This is Susan Gonzales, spelled G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-S. My phone number is 123-456-7899. I am responding to your call about the open Logistics Manager position at XYZ company. I am very interested to come in for an interview …
(Continue the message with similar content to the email.)
Again, this is Susan Gonzales. My number again is 123-456-7899. You can also reach me by email at Susan@mail.com.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Follow Up for Confirmation
Once you have responded, you may follow up after 48 hours if you have not heard back. A simple, “I am following up to make sure you received my reply on (date) … ” added to the email you previously sent is a simple solution or you may leave another voicemail. Most job seekers hate to be a “bother,” but employers typically like to see a professionally persistent follow-up. This is especially important for sales positions.
Declining the Invitation
If you are not serious about working at the company in that role, it is best to bow out gracefully so that you do not waste anyone’s time. It is alright to attend an interview if you are unsure or are open to persuasion. If you decide to decline the invitation, respond immediately using these tips. Offer another candidate or source of candidates as a referral if you have one in mind as a courtesy.
Dear Ms. Smith,
Thank you for the invitation to interview for the marketing director position at XYZ Corporation. I am a long-time admirer of your organization and, under other circumstances, I would be thrilled for the opportunity.
The timing is not right for me, however, in that I have just received a promotion and I am excited by the direction my career is taking at my current company. As such, I respectfully decline your kind invitation.
I know two other candidates from my professional network who might be excellent for the role; please let me know if you would like an introduction.
Job search is a matter of connecting with employers on a human level so that they can come to appreciate your future value to their organization. A prompt and courteous response to an invitation to interview is a great way to get off on the right foot. Pay attention to your timing, tone and details, and good results will likely follow.
More from U.S. News