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* Job Applications

8. Sample Phone Conversations

These telephone conversations took place between the Personnel Officer of a firm looking for Junior Clerk, and several applicants. As you read through them, look for the good and bad aspects of each applicant's delivery.

Receptionist: "Good morning . . . Brown and Brown . . ."

Applicants 1, 2 and 3: "Hello, I'm answering the advertisement for a ..(job) that was in ..(day) paper. Could YOU please tell me who I should speak to about it?"

At this point... one of two things will happen:


Receptionist: "One moment... putting you through now..."

Applicants 1, 2 and 3: "But... who would I be... hello?"


Receptionist: "Yes... that would be Mrs Goodman in Personnel... putting you through now..."

  • Why is it important to find out the name of the person you are to speak to?
  • If you don't know who to ask for, what should you say when the person who answers the extension doesn't give a name?
Click! Ring... Ring... Ring...

Mrs Goodman: "Personnel... Mrs Goodman speaking..."


App. 2: "Oh hello.........Mrs Goodman? My name is ..and I'm applying for the job that was in the paper."

Mrs G: "Right - which one was it?"

App. 2: "Oh... the 'Daily Press'?"

Mrs G: "No, which job was it that you were applying for?''

App. 2: "Oohh! The one for the junior clerk."

(At this point... Applicant 2 might as well hang up! They have bombed out severely!)

  • Why should you say EXACTLY which position you are applying for?
  • Why have we not shown much of what happened to Applicant 2?


App. 1 and 3: "Hello Mrs Goodman. My name is ..... and I'm answering the advertisement for a ..... that was in ..... paper."

Mrs G: "Oh yes... what was your name again?"


(we'll get back to applicant 3 shortly...)

App. 1: ( repeats name)

Mrs G: "Good, now can you tell me, how old you are?"

App. 1: "I am ......... years old"

Mrs G: "Fine. What standard of education have you reached?"

App. 1: 'Well at the moment I am in my last year of school, and I am studying ........"(list subjects)

Mrs G: "Good. Could you tell me why you'd like to do this job?"

App. 1: "Well... I've always been interested in clerical work, and I really enjoyed doing it during the work experience we had."

Mrs G: "Uh huh... and where did you do your work experience?"

App. 1: "It was at Thatchett's... I went with a friend of mine... She worked in the accounts payable department and I worked in the other one... ahh.. the accounts receivable - that's it. We were there for a couple of weeks."

Mrs G: "Right... well, ah... could you give me your address and phone number then?"

App. 1: "O.K. It's .......... and the phone is .........."

Mrs G: "Thank you... We'll give you a ring when we've decided who we're going to interview. Alright?"

App. 1: "Oh... yeh! When do you think that will be?"

Mrs G: ''We were going to conduct the interviews late next week, so if you're to be considered we'll ring you by Friday."

App. 1: "Fine... thanks very much then!"

Mrs G: "Are you sure that you don't have any questions you'd like to ask while you're there?"

App. 1: "Oh no... I've found out all I need to know for the moment thanks."

Mrs G: "Alright... Goodbye then!"

App. 1: "Goodbye."

  • Why do you think that Applicant 1 finally got the "Don't ring us, we'll ring you" treatment?
  • Short answers to questions don't help you... nor do answers which show little or no preparation by the applicant. Where did Applicant 1 start to really go wrong, and how would you improve those answers?
  • Remember, you are expected to ask some relevant questions, so have them prepared in advance. What would have been Mrs Goodman's thoughts when Applicant 1 said that he/she didn't want to ask any (more) questions?


App. 3: (repeats name) "I was wondering what further information about the job you might be able to provide me with?"

Mrs G: "Right... Well the position was for a junior clerk, which would involve working in our accounts department handling debtors and creditors enquiries, invoicing, accounts and also filing. You'd be working closely with one other junior, two senior clerks, and our accountant."

App. 3: "And what type of work would I be involved with to start Mrs Goodman?"

Mrs G: "Well initially you'd mainly be involved in filing and invoicing until you picked up the other more involved aspects.''

App. 3: "Oh good... so I should be able to get fully involved in all aspects of the work fairly quickly then?"

Mrs G: "Ah... well... it would depend on how long it took you to properly learn how the section operates."

App. 3: "Well, I have already had some experience handling filing and accounts when I've been helping my brother-in law prepare the monthly statements for his business, and I've also had two weeks school work experience last month in the accounts payable department of Thatchett's Proprietary Limited."

Mrs G: "Oh... that's interesting... Look - could you tell me what level of education you've reached?''

App. 3: " Sure. I'm in Year ... at ... High School and I am presently studying .... (list subjects). My favourite subject is probably maths, which is one of the main reasons why I think I'd enjoy working in some sort of accounting position. "

Mrs G:"Right.."

App. 3: "Yes, and I'm pretty good at English as well. We had a big spelling bee at school recently and I went fairly well in that also."

Mrs G:"Right... well I'd like you to come in for an interview so we can discuss things further. When would suit you?"

App. 3: "Well... anytime really. When are you going to do the interviews?"

Mrs G: "The interviews are scheduled for next week. How would Wednesday at 10 suit you?"

App. 3: "Fine... next Wednesday at 10. Now where do I have to go to?"

Mrs G:"Our Personnel Department is on the 4th floor of our building at 21 Main Street."

App. 3: "4th floor... 21 Main Street?"

Mrs G: "Yes"....

App. 3: "And do I ask for you Mrs Goodman?"

Mrs G:"Ah... no. I won't be doing the interviews... you'll have to ask for a Mrs Roberts."

App. 3: "Mrs Roberts... right. Thank you very much Mrs Goodman."

Mrs G:"Fine... thank you. And don't forget to bring in your résumé and references and so on..."

App. 3: "O.K. Thanks again Mrs Goodman. Goodbye. "

Mrs G:"Goodbye."

  • You should be prepared for the unexpected, and maybe tricky, question. If Mrs Goodman's answer to Applicant 3's first question had been:
    "Sure... what would you like to know?''
    which of these replies would've made the best impression?
    • "ahh... well.... uhm... ahh, what sort of work would the job involve?"
    • "Well, I was interested in finding out firstly, exactly what sort of work the job involved?"
  • Notice how Applicant 3 could follow through on the information given by Mrs Goodman and use it to start further conversation. He/she was also able to bring in other relevant information which was needed (but not asked for). What effect did this have on Mrs Goodman?
  • Once Applicant 3 was invited for an interview, notice how the date, time and location was confirmed. What other information would Applicant 3 have to write down that was too important to forget?
  • How important is it to be polite?
  • What did you think of the approach that Applicant 3 took? Was it "coming on a hit too strong"? Do you think that Applicant 3 was lucky to get an interview? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think that Applicant 3 wasted his/her time on Mrs Goodman, because as it turned out, Mrs Goodman wasn't going to carry out the interviews anyway?

From what you have learnt about good and bad ways of making a phone call to an employer, draw up your own "Rules for Telephone Calls" which lists all the things you should do.

Look through a newspaper and find a job you'd like to apply for.

Imagine that you are applying for that job by telephone.

Prepare a set of questions which you could ask about that job.

Make sure also that you prepare a list of answers to questions that you could be asked - the ad should give you some clues as to the questions you may be asked.

Check your list of questions against those shown in the Interview section.

What about advertising yourself to improve your chances?
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