Woman Claims Her Voicemail Greeting Prevented Her From Getting a Job

A woman claimed in a now-viral video that her phone's voicemail greeting prevented her from getting hired at a local Harris Teeter location back in 2020.

The video, which is a screen-recording of the rejection voicemail she received from the hiring manager, was posted to TikTok last week by zenayajones8. So far, the post has amassed over 14 million views and thousands of comments from people who vented frustrations about constantly worrying about being "professional."

"Yes, Ms. Jones, I recommend if you apply for a job and you expect somebody to call you that you have a more appropriate, uh, response on your voicemail," the manager said in his message to Jones.

"So, thank you for applying, and no need to give us a call back here at Harris Teeter," the manager concluded. "Thank you, ma'am. Bye."

Whether or not the employer intended to hire Jones before hearing her voicemail greeting remains unclear.

In an emailed statement to Newsweek, Paige Paige Pauroso, the communications specialist with Harris Teeter, said: "Harris Teeter is committed to being the best when it comes to recruiting and hiring incredible associates and that's why we are disappointed to see how Ms. Jones' hiring process was handled in 2020. The manager's actions do not align with Harris Teeter policies or protocols when it comes to hiring.

"We continually train our recruiters and hiring teams in the importance of hiring diverse personalities. Once Harris Teeter learned of the voicemail, the company investigated and acted accordingly," Pauroso continued.

Unfortunately, there are many "small" and "uncontrollable" factors that can prevent someone from getting a job, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Boston-based recruiter Brian Metcalf told the paper that in some cases, a person simply "rubs [a hiring manager] the wrong way."

"It could be your handshake, which someone might find too aggressive. It might be the volume of your voice. It might be your haircut. There may be something about you that raises a red flag for someone and that's it—you don't get the job," he said.

Similarly, a person's body language could prevent them from being hired.

"If you're slumped over in your chair, if you play with your hair, if you crack your knuckles, you're putting a bad face on your brand," Metcalf added. "Even small things, like constantly scratching the back of your hand, might annoy your interviewer."

As previously stated, many commenters were bothered by the idea that something as simple as a personal voicemail greeting could prevent a person from getting a job.

"Why does everything we do need to be 'professional' for work like that's our only purpose in life?" asked Jessica Metzler.

Others, however, felt that the employer had every right to recommend that Jones create a more "appropriate" greeting.

"I actually agree with this, your voicemail and email [are] very important when applying for a job," said Plushvixxen.

In response to curious commenters, Jones shared a screen-recording of her greeting in a follow-up video, and viewers loved it.

"Wassup, wassup, wassup," she sang at the beginning of the message. "Wassup ya'll it's your girl Zanaya... I'm sorry I couldn't answer the phone. Please leave your name, number, yeah you know all that."

Typhany Bleu wrote: "Maaaan I thought you were cursing or something the way he was acting. This is adorable."

Pauroso said that those with Harris Teeter enjoyed the greeting as well.

"Harris Teeter listened to Ms. Jones' voicemail, which she also posted on her TikTok account, and we thought it was a great way to make someone smile before leaving a voicemail. That kind of bright and outgoing personality is exactly what every Harris Teeter store needs."

Update 02/03/2022: This article has been updated to include a statement from Harris Teeter.

Woman on phone
A woman claimed in a now-viral video that her phone’s voicemail greeting prevented her from getting hired at Harris Teeter. fizkes/istock