Imagine that I'm taking a phone call. I don't know this person and he/she doesn't know me.
However, we have some information about each other from my/their job advertisment.
So, when I'm picking the phone should I say "This is Peter Surname speaking..."? Isn't it too stiff?
Are you the one calling or the one being called?
I'm the one being called. I receive an incoming call.
I think you can say." Hello, Peter speaking, can I help you?"
On a landline I just say "Hi...Damian Surname."
On my mobile I can usually tell who's calling if they're logged into my system, then I can answer appropriately. If not, it's usually just "Damian" or more usually "Dami" as 98% of the time it's friends who call me on my mobile.
If still unsure, an option could be to simply let your answerphone take the message then call back and say: "This is Peter returning your call". The only problem then is that you are paying for the call.
If you feel sure it is a business call (such as a job interview scenario) then you have to be fairly formal to a degree, but still friendly. Just remember to sound confident and up-front, that's all. Be natural.
Thank you all for your replies. I was thinking about the job interview affair particularly.
I would know what to say in my mother tongue language in the case,
but I haven't known how this custom appears in English.
I'd just go for "Hello!" You shouldn't expect them to expect you to expect them. I mean, unless it's a mobile (with caller ID like Dami's) it could be anyone calling you. The caller realises that you wouldn't know who it is. If you answer as if you'd been hanging out for their call, what's the employer going to think? They're going to think "Who's this bright-eyed bushy-tailed youngester with no friends and family?" ... Then, on the other hand, it's probably best not to go for "Yeah, wha'd ya want?"
Yeah, I agree with Jim. You can never go wrong with a standard "hello." If one of my friends were calling me on my cell phone, I might say something like "what's up" or "hey," but in all other situations (especially with a call from a potential employer) one should answer with "hello."
You could say what the Germans say: "Lily Fenley here. Who's on the line?"
Or you could say ah-lo, like most continental Europeans do.
Or you could shout "way? way!" like the Chinese do.
Or you could bark "identify yourself, sir/or madam/or miss!"
Your choices are infinite.
If you're really going for the whole "Chinese" thing, saying "WEI?????" at least five or six times would be best (or just one long, drawn-out "We~~~~~~i?"). ;)
At home, I say, "Yo!" if I know who it is (there goes my somewhat positive image around here ;); otherwise it's simply, "Hello?" or, "Hello, X residence!" (if I think it's a telemarketer).