Cell phones + interview …

Admittedly this advice is mostly based on common sense, but as they say, common sense is not necessarily all that common.

In-person interviews

This one is simple – leave it in your car! At least turn it off if you must have it with you b/c some critical event is happening in your life that you have to know about when it occurs, don’t kid yourself about the vibrate mode as it’s just as intrusive during an interview.

Phone interviews

Perhaps you’ve joined the masses that no longer have a land line or maybe you need to do a phone interview while on the run, driving or at work (e.g. lunch time) and your only option is to take/make that call on your cell phone. Whatever the case may be, here are some simple guidelines for those times when you will be doing a phone interview on your cell phone.

• Choose your physical environment carefully. There is nothing more distracting than lots of background noise.

• Consider disclosing up front that you are on a cell phone. If not disclosing this up front, don’t be shy about mentioning it if you suspect that one or both parties are having a hard time with the connection. It’s really important that both parties are able to clearly hear one another and often a simple disclosure helps. For example, you might say “Before we get started, I just wanted to let you know that I’m on a cell phone so please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any problems hearing me and I’ll do the same at my end.” This way, you’ve left yourself the option for a certain level of comfort if you have to ask the interviewer to repeat something and vice versa.

• Make sure your battery is charged up as much as possible before hand. This way you don’t have to worry about it when you should be focusing on the call. However, if during the phone interview your battery is starting to run critically low, just disclose it so you are not distracted or stressed out. Everybody today can relate to a low battery.

TAKE AWAY – What actually prompted this topic is that too many times I’ll have a post-interview debrief conversation with a candidate who tells me that they had a hard time understanding some of the questions because the cell connection was lousy at times and they never said anything to the interviewer. Often the client has the same post call observation so I encourage those that are doing the interviewing let candidates know if the connection is not good. Getting the topic on the table at the beginning (from both ends) can often salvage an interview that was simply going south due to telecommunications challenges and that is simply not a good reason to not make it to the next interview step.