Cell Phone Etiquette During Job Interviews

These days, cell phones feel like an extension of ourselves. We are rarely without them and seldom power them down. A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that 46 percent of Americans “couldn’t live without” their smart phones. According to a survey by Zogby, 87 percent of Millennials say they are never separated from their cell phones.  

They are our cameras, calendars, entertainment, and part of our social interactions. However, when heading in for a job interview, do the smart thing and power down.

When it comes to cell phone etiquette during job interviews, there’s one essential tip:

Turn Off Your Cell Phone – This one is pretty simple, but many people fail or forget to do this. Set a reminder in your phone to shut it off before the interview if you have to. It should be completely off—no setting it to vibrate mode. That buzzing noise will be distracting and embarrassing mid-interview. Those phone calls, texts, and emails can wait.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

Turn Off Your Cell Phone Early – Ideally, shut off your cell phone in your car and leave it there. If you are taking public transportation, turn it off before you enter the building. This is critical first-impression time. A receptionist will probably greet you when you walk in, so focus on putting your most friendly and professional foot forward. Resist any temptation to pull out your cell phone if you are kept waiting a few minutes before the interview begins. Many business reception areas disclose information about the company in pictures on the walls or in written materials. We are sure you have done your research, but take a look around and peruse any available writing.   

Practice Being Without Your Phone – Many of our cell phone behaviors have become subconscious. We automatically reach for our back pocket to make sure our phone is safely in place, or when someone nearby gets a text alert. Keeping your phone in your car, or closed in your briefcase will help prevent this. Practice what it feels like to be phone-free for an hour or two. Go out to dinner a few times with friends or family with your phone turned off and in your bag, as you will during interviews. As a bonus, you may rediscover the pleasure of an uninterrupted conversation.

Bring a Pen and Notebook – Most of us put reminders and notes in our phones. For the interview, go old school and bring along a presentable notebook and pen. When you receive important information during the interview, keep your cell phone tucked away and use the notebook and pen to jot it down. You can transfer the information to your cell phone later.

Don’t Check Your Cell Phone – This means no sneaking a peek in the office hallway or bathroom. You are in a building filled with possible future co-workers. It’s important to make a good impression on everyone. If you are using your cell phone to write a thank you note, wait until you are settled in a coffee shop or at home. It’s best to take time to reflect on the interview first anyway.

We get it. It’s hard to be without your cell phone. They are a huge part of everyday life. Even your prospective employer gets it. But the chances they’ll turn from prospective boss to current boss are much better if your phone doesn’t start ringing or buzzing when they are getting to know you.