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(Phone rings and interviewee picks up)
Interviewee: Hello!
Interviewer: Hello? May I speak with Miss/Mr/Mrs X?

Now in a scenario like this, what should the interviewee say? Have been pondering over it all day. Some answers that I came up with:

"This is X." (Sounds mechanical and redundant, IMHO atleast.)

"Yes this is him/her." (Sounds weird.)

"Yes it is I." (Sounds too grammatical.)

"Yes?" (Sounds too busy.)

"Go on" (Sounds vengeful.)

"Who else do you think is on the line?" (Sounds rude.)

What is the general reaction here? I remember fumbling and grunting to tell that it was me they wanted to talk to, during a phone interview.

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5  
"Speaking!". Too obvious? –  Oded Oct 23 '12 at 16:23
13  
"Hello, this is $(MY_NAME)" is how I answer my phone 100% of the time I don't know the number and need to avoid with situations like this –  enderland Oct 23 '12 at 16:25
13  
What a great example of analysis paralysis. –  MrFox Oct 24 '12 at 15:38
3  
This is not a bad question. Many third party recruiters take care of getting the parties on the phone and make introductions to avoid the pitfalls that can derail an otherwise excellent candidate. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Oct 24 '12 at 16:25
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@Chad This question boils down to: "How to answer phone calls?", be it for interviews, business deals, real estate transactions, or trips to outer space - that is irrelevant. The OP's real prolbem is s/he is unsure of how to carry themselves in a high-stakes phone conversation, and pretty much everyone's reponse has been "You're over thinking it". –  MrFox Oct 24 '12 at 17:17

7 Answers 7

up vote 17 down vote accepted

You are over thinking it - try looking at it this way:

Scientific studies show that communication is delivered more by how you say it than the words chosen.

For example, you could say, "Who else do you think is on the line?" with the same emotion, tone, voice level, pitch and enthusiasm as you would say to a friend - Hey, what's up man, haven't talked to you in so long!! If you said who else do you think is on the line with this energy, you can bet he won't think it's rude, and probably be like "what's up's so glad to hear from you too!".

See how it feels different ?

Keep it professional with a Yes, this is Arpith but with all the dynamics of: I am so excited to be interviewed, thanks for taking your time to do this, I am confident about this position and I know I will be a great benefit to this company.

You could even write down all these positive aspects on a piece of paper and stare at them the whole time you are interviewing - your positive internal state will make a difference!

Good luck on your interview and "break a leg!" =)

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1  
So many points-of view! This one seemed most sensible somehow. Thank you. –  Arpith Oct 23 '12 at 19:04
    
@Arpith: "seemed sensible somehow"!!?? Try it yourself in many different situations, see what types of responses you get and see if it still "seems sensible" haha –  Greg McNulty Oct 23 '12 at 19:53
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+1 for "you are overthinking" –  DJClayworth Oct 23 '12 at 20:00
    
Lots of publications have been hyping “non-verbal behavior” and the like for decades and it sure does matter to some extent but what scientific studies actually show that delivery matters more than the words chosen? –  Relaxed Sep 10 '13 at 12:23

"This is $name".

When I'm expecting the call, though (e.g. schedule phone screen), I short-circuit it by answering the ring with "Hello, this is $name".

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1  
Interviewer: Is this Jack? Interviewee: This is Jack. Does this sound redundant only to me? –  Arpith Oct 23 '12 at 16:24
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Usually, in my experience, the caller doesn't ask "is this $name" but "May I speak with $name" or "Is $name there" (as illustrated in the question). –  Monica Cellio Oct 23 '12 at 16:27
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Never try to pronounce a dollar-sign on the phone. :-) –  DJClayworth Oct 23 '12 at 20:01
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It's redundant, but it doesn't matter. Interviewer won't even notice the redundancy or think about it. –  pkhamre Nov 22 '12 at 12:46
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@DJClayworth Damn that's why people are surprised. I always say "Hello, this is dollar-name, replace name with Jack and keep dollar in case you might want to use my name as a variable. If so, I want to be a 64 bit double. How can I help you". Next time I will say "Hello, this is dollar-name, replace name with Jack and keep the change". –  Zurechtweiser Dec 10 '12 at 16:27

The words make very little difference. Anything on your list is fine, and many others - in addition, if you have a preferred short form of your name that suits your professional identity, now would be a good time to mention it.

It's also a good time to set the tone of the interview - for example, if you have a hard stop time in 30-60 minutes, you may wish to say so. Don't assume details like this were relayed to the interviewer.

But realize - the first few exchanges are simply awkward. Don't let it throw you - the interviewer feels awkward too. Just let the nerves happen, and move on with making a connection. The only truly bad outcome of that first part of the exchange is getting so hung up on the wording of a simple phrase that you can't answer the rest of the questions clearly.

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Depending on your personality, there are a few ways I could see going with this:

"Yes." - simplest and accurate answer. Note that there isn't a rising tone or lack of confidence here. Just a simple assertive answer to the query.

"Yes, are you Mr. X that is to interview me today?" - may be a way to confirm that it is who you think as someone else may call and it would be awkward to assume that it is the interviewer on the other end.

Alternatively, when you said, "Hello," you could introduce yourself at that point to say, "Hello, this is so-and-so speaking," and potentially nip the question in the bud.

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1  
"Yes, are you Mr. X that is to interview me today?" - a tad aggressive, perhaps? (IMHO, of course) –  Arpith Oct 25 '12 at 13:39
    
Depending on how it is said, sure. –  JB King Oct 25 '12 at 15:06

To remove all redundancy and a possible awkward moment, simply answer the phone with "Hello, this is $(MY_NAME)." or something on those lines. This removes the caller's need to request for you and sounds very professional.

Some other lines that can be used:

Hello, $(MY_NAME) speaking.

$(My_NAME) speaking.

This is $(MY_NAME).

You've reached $(MY_NAME). Please leave a message at the beep. Just kidding! What can I do for you? <<< Not recommended

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Upvote for option 4. –  Jeremy1026 Oct 23 '12 at 18:45
    
In the South "General Lee speaking." :) –  Amy Blankenship Oct 24 '12 at 0:31
1  
I always answer the phone with my name, and never hello. People who don't know me often ask for me when I answer - they literally do not process what I say. They hear "human voice sounds that mean telephone connection has been made" and say the next line in their script, "may I speak to Kate please". It happens so often it's clearly a universal thing not to really process what the person says when they answer the phone. –  Kate Gregory Mar 20 '13 at 23:13

I would recommend "this is he/she," as opposed to "yes, this is him/her."

"This is she," does sound a little bit weird, but it is a pretty standard way of answering the telephone and accomplishes your goal without being redundant or rude.

This page has some interesting insight into "this is she" vs. "this is her" grammatical correctness debate, but it looks like "this is she" is winning. http://painintheenglish.com/case/811/

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I usually rely on how they asked. If they say "This is X calling for $name", I reply warmly with "Oh, hi!". If they say "May I speak with $name", I can't be 100% sure it's not a telemarketer, so I replay with "This is she" until they identify themself, at which point I reply with the warmer greeting above. I feel that the warm, friendly greeting helps reinforce the idea that I was looking forward to the call, but the more formal introduction when I'm not sure who it is speaks to my professionalism. It's very likely I'm over-thinking it, though.

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