I got a job offer today that I would like to accept. My manager called and left a voice message. He gave quite a few details and said to call him back on his cellphone. But he stuttered and mumbled and it sounded like he said 11 digits, not 10. I tried all combinations I could think of but they were not his number. I can call the number of the branch I have been in contact with. How exactly should I proceed and how exactly should I word this? It’s kind of abrasive to tell my manager “you mumbled when you left me a message” before the first day.

  • 3
    Do you have his email adress ? Or a business card ? Oct 20, 2016 at 15:41
  • 9
    doesn't your voice mail tell you what number called?
    – njzk2
    Oct 20, 2016 at 18:31
  • 2
    Look up in a company directory maybe or a "Contact Us" page on the site? Oct 21, 2016 at 0:07
  • It happens when someone will leave their cell number but call from an office phone. Rendering the call log useless in this case. I would just dial the number back or call the company asking for this individual's number.
    – Joe
    Oct 21, 2016 at 1:52
  • 18
    Seriously ...? Call the company switchboard and ask for him. Oct 21, 2016 at 8:14

7 Answers 7


Quite simple really - the polite (ahem) thing in this kind of situation is to blame a third party who will never care or have to answer for it ;)

e.g. The line was breaking up as he spoke the number so you couldn't quite make it out.

  • 5
    This is the easiest way
    – Kilisi
    Oct 20, 2016 at 8:41
  • This does raise the question of why they didn't ask the manager to repeat themselves in the first place.
    – Harris
    Oct 20, 2016 at 14:58
  • 2
    @HarrisWeinstein It was a voice mail so unless he was listening in and not picking up it would have been difficult. Oct 20, 2016 at 14:59
  • 15
    Why would you even lie here in the first place? You can just say, "I'm sorry, I had trouble understanding the number that he left over voicemail." It's 100% true, and it's not blaming anyone or being rude. There's no need to lie and say the line was breaking up when it wasn't... if I were the hiring manager and I didn't think the line was breaking up, I would even get confused and possibly annoyed that you had to lie for something silly like this.
    – user541686
    Oct 21, 2016 at 2:46
  • 9
    I agree with @Mehrdad and I'm surprised how many upvotes this answer has when it basically says, "Lie in your first conversation with the hiring manager you want a job from." (Or your first conversation with his secretary.) There's no need to lie. None at all.
    – Wildcard
    Oct 21, 2016 at 4:28

There is no need to make up excuses or blame anyone.

Call the main number of the plant, ask for the manager by name, and eventually talk to him that way. When you talk to him just say "Sorry, I didn't get your cell number from the message.". It happens. There is no need to bring up that you think the reason was that he mumbled. It's irrelevant anyway. If you get his voicemail, just say the same thing in the message.

Remember, he wants to hire you and have you get back to him. He would have liked you to call on his cell phone, but that didn't work out. That really shouldn't be a big deal. There should be nothing wrong with work-related communication via his work phone.

Perhaps he knows he'll be out of the office, and won't get the message for a while. Send him email also. If he has a secretary, leave a message that way too. With all those, he'll find out you tried to get back to him soon enough. He's certainly not going to figure you gave up on the company and offer the job to someone else before checking his voicemail and email.

You are overthinking this.

  • 41
    This may backfire if you're looking to get a job transcribing phone numbers from answer machine messages.
    – David
    Oct 20, 2016 at 15:01
  • 3
    If he has a secretary, the secretary almost certainly has his cellphone number. You can explain to the secretary that the manager left a voicemail with his cellphone number, but that it was garbled, and ask the secretary for the correct cellphone number. You may have to demonstrate to the secretary that you have most of his cellphone number, as the secretary may have instructions not to give out the cell phone number.
    – Makyen
    Oct 20, 2016 at 15:23
  • 1
    @David OP already failed that job test. Voicemail systems tell you the calling number before or after playing the message, or sometimes by pressing "5" to get envelope information.
    – SnakeDoc
    Oct 20, 2016 at 21:13
  • 4
    @SnakeDoc there any number of reasons why the voice mail envelope might be useless here. The most plausible to me is that he might have left the message from a different phone line, perhaps his office line, before going out the door. There are voice mail systems that make the caller ID info unavailable or useless. And there certainly are phone systems (and likely cell carriers too) that provide worthless caller ID.
    – RBerteig
    Oct 20, 2016 at 23:04
  • 1
    @RBerteig That may be true, but you're making this up in the context of this question - OP didn't say they checked any of these very common ways to get the callback number.
    – SnakeDoc
    Oct 21, 2016 at 1:28

Email or call the work number of the manager. Failing that, call the company's main number and ask for contact details (or request a call back).

It's not unusual that voicemails are garbled, and people often don't repeat phone numbers when leaving a message (I often have to listen to a VM three or four times before I get the number written down).


Have you tried different ways to contact him? for example you can find him on Linkedin or just google his name and you might find his direct contact.


I can call the number of the branch I have been in contact with.


You don't have to turn this into a big deal or into some veiled insult.

Just say: Hey Bob, for some reason the voicemail recording cut out for a second when you were saying your number so I had to call through the main switchboard. Do you think you can give me your direct line one more time so I can get it down on paper?

See, it's the voicemail's fault. Darn technology. Oh well.


Doesn't your voicemail system allow you to call back?

  • Press 1 to delete
  • Press 2 to repeat
  • Press 3 to save
  • Press 4 to dial back
  • 2
    This should probably be a comment rather than an answer. An answer typically doesn't require clarification or ask a question of the asker.
    – Chris G
    Oct 20, 2016 at 21:26
  • 2
    This also isn't a good answer, since those numbers are dependent on the provider (I've never even seen one that uses these particular numbers) and they may not necessarily provide such a function anyways. Oct 20, 2016 at 22:50
  • 1
    @ChrisG it seems like a rhetorical question to me - though it could have been rewritten as "If your voicemail system allows you to call back the number, use that option."
    – alephzero
    Oct 21, 2016 at 1:09

Tell your manager the truth: he has mumbled. If this manager cares about his self-development he will thank you for the feedback and he will try to be clearer next time over the phone.

edit: If he gets angry because of the criticism then it is not the manager you want to work for anyway.

As for the part how to contact him: simply call the company and explain the situation.

  • 11
    And if he does not, you come of as disrespectful and start on a wrong foot with your new boss, who may still be generally a good boss and a good person. Oct 20, 2016 at 10:01
  • 8
    It is only OP's assumption that the manager stuttered and mumbled, but in reality OP probably has no idea what was going on at the other end of the call. To use that assumption to put the blame on the manager for the missed phone number is a horrible way to get started.
    – cdkMoose
    Oct 20, 2016 at 13:20
  • How is a good boss good if they can't deal with reasonable critique?
    – kukis
    Oct 19, 2018 at 18:28

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