Hello? is a poor greeting

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I've done what I think is an insane amount of phone screens since December (well over 100) and in the last few weeks there's something I've been noticing when I call candidates for their initial phone screen. The more I think about it the more that it has surprised and even bothered me. It is this: When I call candidates the most common greeting I get is "Hello?"

That's it. Just a single-worded, sort of thoughtless, confused, and even a bit rude-sounding "hello". You may not think there's anything wrong with that greeting and that I'm being overly sensitive (I probably am, a tiny little bit) but I beg to differ. That's a greeting alright but a rather poor one. I've kept track of how people greet me during phone screens for only the most recent 6 phone screens. 5 out of 6 times I was greeted with a "Hello?" and only once was I greeted an actual proper greeting ("Hello, this is XYZ"). I wish I've kept track of how frequently this greeting is used by candidates during all of my phone screens in the past but I would bet it happens at least 60%. Maybe as high as 80%. It's an not the best greeting given the fact that candidates know when & why they'll be getting the phone call as well as the name of the person who will be calling them. Better greeting would be any of the following:

  • Hello, this is XYZ.
  • Hello, this is XYZ. Is this Junho?
  • Hi, I'm XYZ. How are you today?

"Hello?" is way too abrupt of a greeting and while not inappropriate it's not entirely appropriate either in an interview context. Just my opinion. At the very least, as a candidate, you should state your name when you greet your interviewer. Remember that that this is the very first time your interviewer will be speaking to you. First impressions are important, especially in interviews. The interviewer has no idea what your voice sounds like and depending on your first name your interviewer doesn't even know if you're a man or a woman. When you use a greeting that's more proper than a simple "hello?" it helps you sound just a bit more confident and ready for the interview. It helps you come across as being someone who is polite.

The way you greet your interviewer is not going to make or break the interview (well, maybe it can break it) but it can help.

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