A reader writes:
I have been going on many interviews, thanks to your website and advice. Typically before entering the building, I turn my phone off completely, so as not to be distracted or interrupted during an interview. At times I have had to wait in the lobby for a good amount of time before actually meeting with the interviewer. (One time I actually sat waiting for 40 minutes!)
Once, while I was waiting to go in for an interview, another candidate showed up and immediately pulled out his phone and played a game while waiting. I had to wonder to myself whether this is proper interviewing etiquette. Does the employer see it as an issue that this person may not be able to pull themselves away from their phones long enough to sit and wait? Or am I thinking too much into this and no one cares since smart phones are a part of our lives?
How do you feel about this and what would you think of a candidate if you walk out to greet someone and they are sitting playing on their phone?
I wouldn’t think anything of it. I’m sure there are some interviewers out there who might have a reaction to it, but it wouldn’t be warranted — because it’s really none of their business how you occupy yourself while you wait, unless you’re distracting their receptionist or making loud calls on your cell phone in their reception area or vandalizing their walls. Sitting quietly doing something on your phone? Not their business.
And particularly if they’ve left you waiting more than 10 minutes from the scheduled time of your interview. In that case, it would be outrageous for them to pass judgment on how you (quietly and unobtrusively) entertained yourself while waiting for them to keep your appointment.
There are a few exceptions to this. Obviously you would indeed risk creating a bad impression if you play games with the sound on, so that anyone passing by is treated to sounds of explosions or the creepy Candy Crush voice … or if you take even a few seconds to finish up your game when the interviewer does arrive to get you; you need to ignore the phone the instant the person shows up.
But in general, playing a game to pass the time during a wait? Not really a big deal.
All that said, you are constantly sending signals about yourself throughout the interview process. And while playing a game isn’t a big deal, I’d still argue that you’re better off using the time to read a book or magazine that you bring with you, and giving some thought to what the title will signal if anyone happens to notice it. To be clear, it should still be something you want to read — the purpose is to entertain yourself, not to put on a show of your immense intellect for passersby — but why not use the time to send a positive signal rather than a neutral one?