You are tech savvy and take pride in the fact that you own the most up-to-date electronic devices (purchased at the best negotiated price, of course!) You have downloaded the latest apps on your mobile phone and can communicate with anyone on this planet within minutes. But are you really as “in touch” as you should be?
There’s a strong possibility that your mobile phone relationship may be impacting your interview in ways you never considered.
Scene 1: The Reception Area
You’ve been invited to a company for a job interview, so you walk into the reception area with a sense of purpose and time to spare. You immediately pull out your mobile and dive into your emails. You are the image of a focused multi-tasking professional.
While this may be the case, you’re missing an opportunity to just sit and gather a sense of the organizational culture by observing the employee’s coming and goings. You’re passing on the chance to eavesdrop on the staff’s unedited comments about work. You’ve even squandered the chance to engage the receptionist in a conversation. (FYI: Many interviewers solicit the receptionist’s opinion about a candidate’s interpersonal skills!) But what’s your “biggest miss”? When your head is imbedded in your mobile, you’re not projecting the image that “I am really jazzed about this meeting” and “the only things that matter at the moment are happening in this building.” When the interviewer walks into reception, you’re not going to look as fully present as you should. So, put your phone away, take a breath, listen and focus. You might actually learn something interesting that you can use in your meeting!
Scene II: The Conference Room
You’ve completed one interview, and are now waiting for the next round. You’ve already spent 30 seconds scrutinizing the corporate artwork with a practiced eye, trying to fathom why it was purchased and the price, so you start to get a bit antsy. Your mission of the moment is to keep focused and your energy elevated, so ignore the temptation to read your emails. You don’t know for sure how long it will take for the next interviewer to arrive. You run the risk of changing your energy if you read something that strikes a negative chord. If you get interrupted in the middle of an email or text, you will run the risk of looking distracted or startled when your next interviewer appears. Remember, a person can gather a visual impression in 1/10 of second. My recommendation is that you stand up and move around to get your blood moving!
Scene III: The Interview
Now remember that being in an interview means that you actually get to have a focused conversation with a living, breathing, human. This means that you should plan on having eye contact with this person on an ongoing basis for an extended period of time! Have you been training for this challenge?
One side effect of mobile technology, is that we have taught ourselves to have shortened attention
spans and have seen them drop from 12 minutes to five seconds. This affects our body language and eye contact, creating a subtle and nagging stress.
You see, without realizing it, you’ve probably been shifting in your seat and have been trying to comfort your neglected mobile with a pat every time you feel it vibrate. Without realizing it, you’ve left the conversation and broken eye contact. Trust me, your interviewer has noticed this and the room’s energy has shifted. You realize that you’re finding it difficult to sustain eye contact for extended periods of time.
Right now you’re probably saying, “I’ve got pressures,” and “I can’t go radio silent for long periods!” I understand and know that this mobile phone addiction is not entirely your fault. Technology and workplace environments have created an unholy alliance and contribute to your stress.
Here are some tips for what you can do:
- Practice being present and institute non-mobile /email periods during your day. (This will help you in every part of your life, not just in interviews!)
- Track how long you can manage it! Aim for a higher score each day.
- Use the time to practice eye contact. I am not talking about staring someone down with an unblinking look. Nooo…You’ll only succeed in scaring people if you choose that option!
- You don’t want to lock eyes with someone for an entire conversation! About every five seconds, or about the time it takes to speak a single sentence, look away from their eyes for a beat and then back again. Find a natural rhythm–don’t be counting the seconds in your head.
- The result: Focused attention and rapport building!
So rethink your relationship you with your mobile and prevent personal energy outages in interviews!