OT: Texting during job interview: not such a good idea

Submitted by UMgradMSUdad on May 5th, 2013 at 3:10 PM

It seems like a slow news day, so here's my old man, Sunday afternoon rant to liven things up.  Apparently not everyone realizes that during job interviews, texting and checking twitter are not exactly activities to give the candidate a leg up on getting hired, and according to some HR professionals, such behavior is increasing:


Human resource professionals say they've seen recent college grads text or take calls in interviews, dress inappropriately, use slang or overly casual language, and exhibit other oddball behavior....

[Jaime] Fall and other HR executives say such quirks have become more commonplace the past three years or so, and are displayed by about one in five recent grads. They're prompting recruiters to rule out otherwise qualified candidates for entry-level positions and delay hiring decisions.

Here's some advice, if you're going into a job interview and you think you might be tempted to check your messages or send a text, turn your damn phone off!  

Geno Smith certainly seems to be part of this trend that HR executives are noticing. As Jason Cole reports on Yahoo Sports, texting and checking Twitter may be part of the reason Geno Smith dropped to the second round in the NFL Draft:


Two sources indicated that when Smith went on some visits to teams, rather than interact with coaches and front-office people, he would spend much of his time on his cell phone. Instead of being engaged with team officials, he would be texting friends or reading Twitter or a number of other distracting activities.

"All these other players who were in there were talking to the coaches, trying to get to know people and he was over there by himself," one of the sources said. "That's not what you want out of your quarterback."

I guess Geno's agents failed him for not telling him that that sort of thing was frowned upon.





May 5th, 2013 at 3:22 PM ^

Maybe texting and taking calls during job interviews is up, but I have a really hard time believing that the relative frequency of "bad interviewers" is increasing. There always have been and always will be people that take interviews very seriously, and the same goes for people that feel entitled to jobs and see interviews as a formality. There are just new ways for the latter group to make their shortcomings visible.

LSA Aught One

May 5th, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

Once had a kid tell me all about fireworks/fire being his main hobby. He then followed that up by telling me, completely out of the blue, that anyone who purchased a PS3 over an XBOX 360 was a dumbass. On the ride back to the office from lunch, he asked if talking about fire had hurt his chances of getting the job.


May 5th, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

It may even run deeper than Smith apparent aloofness, from the sound of it:

"Reports surfaced Tuesday that Smith fired agents Jeff Nalley and Eric Burkhardt of Select Sports Group. While Smith has publicly denied that it had anything to do with his falling out of the draft's first round last week, there are indications to the contrary." - from the Geno Smith article

I have to wonder if these sorts of demonstrations perceptibly impair his chances of being a starter in the league, as between this comment and what seems like a kneejerk firing of his agents due to bruised ego, it doesn't exactly show one of the more important intangibles you might want from a QB - someone who can sift through and lead amidst adversity and still not flinch. That's rather an important trait to have if you really want to be a quarterback. 

I don't know how many teams are really in the market for a QB who, at the first missed reception, fires the wide receivers and goes back to the bench to check Twitter and phone messages. 


May 5th, 2013 at 6:23 PM ^

I'd take the under.  After hearing him speak I can't say I'm impressed; he sounded... dumb.  I really can't put it any other way.  Plus, I doubt he was doing much work at all in terms of "school".   WVU probably isn't a challenging place to be an athlete in terms of academics.


May 6th, 2013 at 8:35 AM ^

I don't have evidence for it, but the notion that's being bandied about is that the horrible reports coming out about Smith right now are basically all sourced from (and possibly made up by) his fired agents. I find it rather convincing, because it seems like this is the kind of thing we would have heard an inkling of before the draft, not suddenly days afterward.

Follow Thy Fullback

May 5th, 2013 at 3:50 PM ^

U would think this is a no brainer but apparently not...I would like to think that parents teach/tell you how to interact/act when you go to get a job in high school and that it would stick the rest of your life.

BOX House

May 5th, 2013 at 4:23 PM ^

I would presume and hope that the type of person that reads this blog would not need this advice. 

Yet it never ceases to amaze me how people fail to turn their phones off during important things. I've seen students' phones go off during exams and in the middle of representing someone in court.

All Aboard

May 5th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

As a soon-to-be college grad, I wouldn't mind if people continued doing this...less competition for me. It's pathetic that some people don't have the common sense to refrain from something like that in an interview.


May 5th, 2013 at 4:54 PM ^

seriously? wow, honestly as someone who does some interviews please just leave your phone in your car. You have zero reasons to bring it in. Be focused on the job and the future not on the next 140 char tweet.



snarling wolverine

May 5th, 2013 at 5:10 PM ^

It's classic addictive behavior.  Many, many people are lost without their phones.  They know it's a bad habit to constantly be on it.  They say to themselves, "It's OK, it's just going to stay in my pocket, no biggie" and the next thing you know, they're either responding to a text they get from a similarly-addicted friend or starting their own conversation during a brief instant of dead time.



May 5th, 2013 at 6:13 PM ^

I understand it is crazy to text/call during an interview.


But I'm not about to leave my $500 phone with all sorts of info and data on it in my car when there are hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of phones being stolen every year in this country. Employers expect you to protect their property, proprietary and sensitive info and in fact my employer has policies about phones and laptops. For example, if I leave my hotel room to go eat dinner I am supposed to have my laptop attached by a security cable or in a safe to protect it. In turn, I am going to protect my property and data and keep my phone in my pocket where it is more secure than it is in my car. Of course it will be turned off and unused during an interview.


May 5th, 2013 at 6:28 PM ^

"I'm not about to leave my $500 phone with all sorts of info and data on it in my car when there are hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of phones being stolen every year" ...wut?  Is Seattle that dangerous?  I've never had an issue with anyone messing with my car and I leave a GPS / iPod in there all the time, sometime I'll leave other semi-valuable items.  Unless it's a really shady area I doubt you'd have a problem unless it is hidden... I'm more worried about a $20,000 car getting stolen than a $400 laptop.  Although I am suprised how many idiots there are who are willing to risk prison time for a $100 phone.  If I'm risking jail time, I'm going to at least make some real money.


May 5th, 2013 at 6:29 PM ^

Wow. I leave my phone and/or wallet in my car all of the time- when I go to the gym, hit the golf course, wearing shorts without pockets, etc. Never just on the seat, but I can't imagine just having to take everything, everywhere all of the time


May 5th, 2013 at 7:27 PM ^

Or locks? People aren't just randomly breaking into cars to see if there's something valuable in the compartment. They're busting into cars that have valuables visible in them, or more often than not, cars people just leave stupidly unlocked.

(Isn't it funny how we still call them glove compartments even though they haven't been really used for gloves for decades?)


May 6th, 2013 at 8:43 AM ^

*shrug* There's one time I've been happy that I had my phone with me during an interview -- I was interviewing for a Software Developer position at Meijer. I'd already told them that I didn't want the job, but they really wanted me to come in and I'd just started a ten day vacation, so I didn't have anything better to do.


It was supposed to be a string of interviews with different people on the team that I'd be working with, six in all. I got through the first five and the sixth person was supposed to show up and then escort me out. They never showed. I sat there for an hour, tried calling my HR contact (the only person I knew; I didn't know who the sixth person was supposed to be) three times, but she'd apparently decided to leave for lunch without telling anyone. If I hadn't had my phone, I would've been bored out of my mind. In the end, they told me they'd get back to me within the next week to let me know whether or not they wanted to make an offer -- that was the week before Christmas. I still haven't heard back from them.


TL;DR: Don't go work for Meijer. They have some serious issues taking care of their interviewees.


May 5th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

I'm an HR professional with a 4,000 employee company and I can assure you that you'll be a pass/fail within 2 minutes of interviewing. All boils down to how you handle yourself and communicate. It's not 1985 anymore. Everyone (including IT and engineering) needs to be able to communicate and interact with multi levels of the organization.

Cville Blue

May 5th, 2013 at 5:09 PM ^

I interview and hire folks as well and I have to agree with you completely.  I can tell almost instantly if we are going to be interested in you.  The other thing that I've noticed is that folks just don't put a lot of effort into their resumes.  I've helped many friends update their resume and it makes a huge difference for them.  It isn't any special skill that I have, it is just taking the time to highlight what you have done.  Be specific!

Cville Blue

May 5th, 2013 at 7:48 PM ^

I have heard this argument before, but even though we have an extensive online application to review the resume is the best chance to make a good impression.

The other issue I see is that folks worry too much about making their resume flashy.  That ultmately leads to awkward formatting or something that is tough to read.  I'd rather see consistent, easy to digest formatting and good substance than the most unique visually appealing reasume.  Obviously there are certain careers where flashy resumes are better... but substance over style is important for me.


May 6th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

Ugh. Honest truth: when I run into something like this, it feels horribly disrespectful to the candidate. This process seems all too common:


Email: Hello, SituationSoap! I came across your resume, and I would like to talk to you about X Job! I think you'd be a great fit. Here's a job description!


I read the job description, and say, "Hey, I'm interested in new opportunities, let's go see if they want to set up an interview." I'm told that I need to fill out the online application in order to go forward in the process. "OK," I think, "hopefully this won't be too bad."


I hit the website, and I'm asked to upload my resume. No sweat. Next, I'm asked to submit to a background check to verify my job history. No big deal, not a problem. Now I'm asked to painstakingly re-enter the information that was submitted both in my resume and would be available from the background check. At this point, I am seriously considering whether or not this job is worth it over the five other emails I've gotten this week. 


Now, my circumstance is unique; I work in software development and there are a lot more development jobs than there are developers. But HR departments seem to have this hard-on for utterly ridiculous pre-interview requirements, which seem even more ridiculous in light of the fact that often, they're the ones who reached out to me, and it's the kind of thing that can eliminate your company from consideration right off the bat. Streamlining your application process is going to make the interview more pleasant for everyone involved.


May 5th, 2013 at 8:39 PM ^

At the school I work at we use three people during the interview process.  If I find one spelling error on a  resume the candidate is dead to me. 

The only time we ever hired someone with a mispelled word it was two to one and I threatened to leave the leadership team over it.   Ultimately the teacher seemed great but ended up being horrible at completeing their tasks and we had to let them go...

The other joke for me is if there is a second page I am not reading it...


May 5th, 2013 at 5:43 PM ^

I don’t doubt that on the whole, hiring managers choose the candidates who dress up, stay off their phones, and have canned answers ready to go.  So if you want a job, you do those things.  If you work in a field where your craft is gab – and there are several – it probably matters that a candidate can quickly whip up some tale about leading a team through some perilous journey in Uganda or something. (And make sure you throw in somewhere that you delivered the team ahead of schedule, as this is a critical piece of nonsense.)  

But in my experience in the transportation sector, we have been just as successful hiring quirky types and candidates who are willing to say “I don’t know” in an interview.  The correlation between good interview and good worker has been nearly non-existent for us, so lately we’ve just been over-hiring and then booting the people we don’t like over the ensuing weeks and months.  Anyway, we wouldn’t much care if candidates/employees were on their phones.  If they can do that and still be listening/productive, then good for them. That’s multitasking, I guess.         


May 5th, 2013 at 6:11 PM ^

Agreed, most people can't do it, and we don't really prioritize/value it.  But if I'm choosing from a few candidates, I'm taking the most productive one, phone-checker or not.  And besides, everyone checks their phone on the job, so faking like you won't during a one hour interview isn't that impressive.