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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

you should not do a phone interview at 55 miles an hour

I'm not sure why anyone would do a pre-scheduled phone interview while they were driving, but since I've recently discovered that some people do in fact engage in this behavior, please consider this a formal suggestion not to.

It baffles me that this happens, because:

1. First of all, you can't focus fully. Why, why, why wouldn't you want to be able to focus fully on presenting the strongest case for your candidacy possible?

2. Second, it denies you one of the greatest benefits of a phone interview: the ability to have notes in front of you.

3. Third, has it occurred to you that you might have to honk at someone or slam on your brakes or that you might get rear-ended (or worse)? Obviously I hope you don't get rear-ended for entirely different reasons as well, but as far as the interview goes, why are you that cavalier about possible disruptions?

4. Fourth, you're sort of signaling that you're not prioritizing the interview enough to even pull over to the side of the road, and that's not a great impression.

5. And fifth, there's a not-insignificant number of people who are staunchly, passionately against talking on a cell phone while driving. I once had an industry VIP refuse to speak to me when he realized I was answering my phone from my car. (To say nothing of the in-your-face, screaming meltdown I watched one of my neighbors unleash on someone last week for driving while talking on his phone.)  If your interviewer feels even a little like that, do you really want to jeopardize your interview performance over cell phone politics?

Frankly, I wish everyone would use a land line for phone interviews, although I realize my dream is becoming increasingly out of reach. But at least pull over to the side of the road.


Anonymous said...

If I was the interviewer, I'd be pretty freaking irritated. Why doesn't the interviewee just call me when they're cooking and banging around in the kitchen? Or how about when they're mowing the lawn? Maybe while soaping up in the tub?

When you do a phone interview, you need to be 100% focused. Multitasking in ANY way just makes you seem distracted, uninterested, and quite honestly...douchey.

Sabrina said...

Sometimes interviewers don't give you a choice in the matter. I'd really liked to be asked "Is now a good time?" or even, oh I don't know, be asked to schedule a phone interview. Instead I had one launch into it as I was on my way to a different interview altogether. Just the first in a long line of red flags for that job. That I eventually *shudder* was offered.

Anonymous said...

You forgot the sixth reason (well, maybe it's implied in the third): potentially very, very dangerous.

Hawkeye said...

I've done an interview on the cell phone in the car. The interviewer was supposed to call about ten minutes later, and I was on my way home to my notes. I was very close to my house, so I stayed on the phone. I actually do find the car (while parked) to be a good place for me to interview at. It's weird - but it's quiet from the distractions of what's going on in the house (dogs, family, etc).

Charles said...

Forget the interview part; as anon at 1:36 said:


That's why in many places it is now illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone. Unless it is an emergency there is no reason for anyone to be talking on a phone while driving.

Count me as one who is "staunchly, passionately against" folks endangering my life on the road.

Harris Silverman- Business Coach said...

There's no accounting for human folly.

Jeff Hunter said...

"Frankly, I wish everyone would use a land line for phone interviews, although I realize my dream is becoming increasingly out of reach. But at least pull over to the side of the road. "

I can't tell you how many times I've talked to someone on their cell phone only to get cut off. Make me believe you think this is the most important call of your career, it just might be. I want you to be just as serious about this call as I am. If I get cut off because of bad reception, you're done, I won't even bother calling you back.

Anonymous said...

@Jeff Hunter

I agree with you regarding prioritizing this call, but lots of folks (particularly young urban dwellers) don't even have landlines anymore. I feel like bad reception, while irritating, is a bit of a tough cutoff, since it's not really based on a person's distractedness, lack of interest, or poor behavior.

Anonymous said...

I once sat on an interview panel where the candidate was not only in the car, but had her two dogs with her. We were treated to her dog-talking as well as her question-answering.
She's kind of a legend now, and we recently declined to interview her for a new opening. That bridge is well and truly burned.

shawn said...

i've conducted scheduled phone screens with candidates who are shopping at cvs, taking a walk outside while it's windy, at the airport, on a family vacation road trip, and in the waiting room at the dentist. there is pretty much no chance these screens could go well due to distractions for both the candidate and myself (listening to southwest announce gate changes).

i scheduled the screens for a time the candidate said was convenient, in advance, and communicated the exact time i would call. big turn off. some candidates just don't get it.

Bethany said...

A landline is impossible for most people my age. I can't imagine spending the money on a landline when I have my cell. It has generally good reception in my apartment and is a better deal than a landline. The only landline I have available is at my current job where I wouldn't want to do an interview for fear of that hushed "I'm afraid of being overheard!" tone.

Anonymous said...

It's dangerous!

Plus, if it's not hands-free, then you're breaking the law in a few states, if not all of them! Imagine that, having an interview only for your interviewer to hear "Ma'am, may I see your license, insurance, and registration?"

JC said...

I am very much against talking or texting on your phone while driving. It distracts you from keeping your full focus on the road. In my mind, a car is like a weapon - you can easily harm/kill yourself and other people with it if you aren't being careful. Also, how can you possibly maintain professionalism and your "A-Game" doing a phone interview while driving? I would be way too distracted for that!

I was caught off guard once during a phone interview. I answered, and when the interviewer asked me if I had a few moments to spare, I asked him if I could call him back in 10 minutes (to prepare my notes, etc). He assured me it would only take a few moments so I said sure - maybe he just needed time to set me up for a face to face interview! Wrong. It was an intentional trap I think. He immediately started asking me formal behavioral-based questions and the whole thing took about 20 minutes. He was also very rude and I felt like he was intentionally weeding me out of the process. Why he even bothered with me to begin with I have no clue! I felt very ambushed and unprepared. Or perhaps that's a new strategy interviewers use to counter the "Can I call you back in 10 minutes?" routine?

Also, I am one of those people who uses a cell phone as the primary phone. I haven't used our landline in 6 years and it was just collecting an extra bill in our house. I've barely had many problems with my cell phone at all, and people seem to understand if the signal gets dropped during a conversation. I think not calling someone back because their signal got dropped is a bit extreme. Just because they use a cell phone instead of a landline doesn't reflect on their ability to do the job. Now walking their noisy dogs, or screaming and honking in their cars, while doing a phone interview...that's a different story!

R.B. said...

I had a landline briefly at my first apartment because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. It was pointless, pretty much. I only have one friend with a landline, and that's because she doesn't want/have a cell phone.

I would be nervous on a phone interview, and even more trying to do it while driving. Very scary.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't do a phone interview while driving but a landline is not an option either. I am at work during business hours and in my car for an hour and a half either side of that. So the only landline I have access to is my desk phone and I can't exactly be doing phone interviews from it. I expect a potential employer to understand this and be willing to work around any technical issues that may arise because of it.

If I was doing a phone interview with someone like Jeff and there was a drop out I would be quite happy for them to not call me back. He is clearly the type of manager that is under the false impression that the interview process is a 1 way street and that he is doing someone a huge favour by hiring them. This is not someone I would want to work for anyway.

Anonymous said...

I have a landline. It's clearer and doesn't drop calls. And I don't have to remember to charge it. While I do have a cell phone, I rarely use it in my house. Actually, there are a few dead zones in my house which makes my phone have difficulties getting the signal bars.

But hey, to each his/her own.

Anonymous said...

Not only should someone not do a phone interview at 55 miles an hour - the interviewer should never cold call expecting that particular moment is a good time.

Courtesy, people, courtesy!

Anonymous said...

I agree that a scheduled phone interview should be conducted at a time and location that allows the interviewee (as well as the interviewer) to devote 100% of their attention to the interview. Something that cannot be done while driving, shopping, dealing with children or pets, etc.

However, many times an applicant will receive a phone call for a position they’ve applied to at an inconvenient moment, including while driving. Usually the interviewer will ask if this is a good time to talk for a few minutes. Now, if it is not a good time (interviewee is driving, shopping, etc.) and they tell the interviewer that it is not a good time, they are risking the chance that the interviewer will not call them back or schedule a better time but find someone else during the time in between. Even if that possibility isn’t likely, someone looking for a job probably doesn’t want to take that chance and would prefer to take the phone call when they have the interviewer on the line.

There is a difference between a scheduled phone interview and an initial phone interview. Interviewers should understand this distinction and make allowances, or be understanding, for initial phone interviews that happen at inopportune times for the interviewee.

And get with the 21st century. Cell phones are the norm now, not land lines. Technology advances, just wait until it gets to the point where voice to voice phone conversations are no longer the norm, having been replaced by some other method of convenient communication.

Ask a Manager said...

Totally agree these should be scheduled. (In the case I wrote about, it was.) But you will never pry my land line away from me!

Anonymous said...

I've worked in call centers, and i can't tell you how many times I'd get calls from people who were driving. I could suggest, but not request, that they make their call from home where it's safer. Nope.