fine, you can use a cell phone for your phone interview

I’m officially retiring the “don’t use a cell phone for a phone interview” advice that’s still out there in many places.

I realized today that the vast majority of phone interviews I’ve conducted in the last year have been with people on cell phones. So clearly the world has moved on from the “use a land line if it’s important” advice, whether I think they should or not.

{ 113 comments… read them below }

  1. Andy Lester*

    That others have moved on from that advice doesn’t make it any less valid.

    Cell phones are far more likely to drop the call than land lines. Cell phones have lower call quality than land lines.

    The entire argument against using a land line is “It’s too haaaaard”, and I suggest that that doesn’t matter. If it’s important to have a phone conversation where you and the other party can hear each other, and you want to make sure the call doesn’t drop, then find a damn land line.

    This parallels my cranky advice about quit whining and send a thank you note.

    1. KayDay*

      I wouldn’t exactly call signing up for land line service “too hard.”

      I think expecting people to have someone come in and get land line service, including paying all the installation fees and getting a year long contract is a bit much to expect for a phone interview. If you live in an area with particularly bad cell phone service, you probably already have a land line (in which case, yes! use it), but I’ve probably had only a few dropped calls in the past year, none of which occurred in my home.

      1. K.*

        Yeah, there’s really no reason to have a land line if you have a cell phone and live in an area with at least decent reception. Land lines are far more inconvenient – fees to install, a pain and an expense to transfer service when you move, and another bill to pay. It wouldn’t occur to me to get one, honestly. My friend used to have one because she lived in an area with crappy reception – and she got rid of it when she moved. The only people I know who have land lines that they regularly use are my mom and grandmother.

        1. Anna D.*

          I actually agree with the overall point about cell v. landline. But the funny thing is that when I moved and wanted to get cable/internet at home, the company told me I had to get a landline bundled with it, or it would cost more. So I had to pay the installation fees/transfer fees/bill whether I had a landline or not, and the inconvenience is the same whether I have a landline or not.

          Obviously if you aren’t getting cable/internet at home (or at least, not in my market) this wouldn’t apply. But even though it’s not actually any harder/different to have a landline with my current set-up, I’ve reached the point where I don’t see the need for one.

          1. KayDay*

            I actually got internet for free for 6 months once because I signed up for a landline (in 2010)!

            But I didn’t have any phone interviews that year so I never got to use my landline phone :(

      2. Ariancita*

        Plus, if you’re unemployed, you probably can’t afford installing a land line. If you live with roommates, that adds another layer of issues, especially if the household is already getting cable internet and getting a land line would require them to do it on their internet package.

      3. Ivy*

        Agreed. There are plenty of people out there who can’t afford both a landline and a cellphone. Not to mention the fact that its a waste of money to have a landline just in case you have a phone interview and just to make sure the reception is crystal clear. If an employer isn’t understanding of this fact, then that raises red flags for me that said employer is behind the times and unwilling to be understanding of the nature of life. These would be the same employers that expect you to brave a hurricane to get to the office and dock you vacation if you don’t. (not necessarily, but that’s the red flag that’s raised)

      4. Kou*

        This, seriously. Why on earth would I spend that kind of money, while unemployed, on a land line I don’t need and will never use except for a potential phone interview? In a year of job hunting I only ever had one anyway.

        It’s easy to say “find a land line” too, but where would I do that? I don’t think I know anyone with a land line anymore. My parents and my grandmother don’t even have them.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Sorry, but my landline is way crappier than my cell phone. The actual phone I use has a cheap speaker. My cell is WAY better. Also, I put that number on my resume because I want people to be able to get me if I’m out and about so we can get an interview scheduled.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Are your telephone wires buried under ground? Not sure why this happens, but I noticed that land line wires buried underground can mean a drop in sound quality.

          1. twentymilehike*

            Are your telephone wires buried under ground?

            I’m not sure … I think this one is “digital” as it’s connected with our cable, but the one at our old place was regular ol’ land line and it was even worse. And I tried multiple handsets at the old place. Both are second story apartments, and it took the phone company three tries to get our lines uncrossed so we’d stop getting other people’s phone calls. The sound quality was so bad at our old place that I couldn’t stand to talk on it. The other person always sounded like they were in a tunnel, there was terrible feedback and echos, and constant background buzzing. The phone company wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do anything about it so I eventually cancelled it altogether.

            1. RJ*

              Second story apartments! We had phone service and DSL from the “phone company” at our last place. When we moved into a new apartment, we tried to transfer the service. (I like using the phone lines since we’re in a hurricane-prone area and didn’t want to have to rely on electrical power to have an operable phone.) After sending a technician out 4 different times, the phone company was unable to successfully run the lines into our second story apartment. The apartment manager was also useless in getting this resolved. They kept blaming each other for the issues. On the 4th visit, the phone company’s technician said, “Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but if I were you, I’d get cable phone service instead.” We switched to a cable bundle, but we still can’t plug the telephone into the wall jack; it has to be plugged directly into the cable modem. We get good quality though and I’ll use it for any interviews I might have.

              1. twentymilehike*

                Ohgoodlord! I know your pain! My last phone-company-phone-line was a nightmare to have installed! They came out once, and it didn’t work right, came out again and got it crossed with someone else’s line, came out a third time and installed ANOTHER one so I eneded up with two lines, two phone numbers and two bills. Finally came back a forth time and fixed it, but I had that awefully sound quality problem. And of course, they schedule their “appointments” like a week or two in advance, so it was days or weeks of waiting to get each issue resolved … what a disaster!

                1. BW*

                  Don’t even get me started on the pain and agony of getting a certain landline provider out to hook up anything or fix anything that needs fixing. The line got cut from the pole once. You think that would be easy to report and get fixed, but not really, and when the guy showed up, he hadn’t even been told the line was off the poll. He wanted to come in the house and run diagnostics to figure out the problem. Needless to say I eventually got rid of that service.

                  I use VOIP at home, but now with wireless calling on my cell that doesn’t use minutes, and being able to register an E911 address, I can probably ditch my other service. Cell phones now are so much better than they were, and on par with landlines when you have a good signal and aren’t driving around during an interview.

      1. Catherine*

        At my last home, the landline always picked up sports radio in the background! No one was able to do anything about it.

        I’ve finally given up on landlines altogether because the smartphone bills are just so expensive that paying for a duplicate service is unjustifiable. And I definitely agree that a person who doesn’t already have a landline and is considering moving for a job would probably be silly to pay for the installation (about $250 where I currently live).

        1. Catherine*

          Reading comments farther down, I’m also reminded that the rural area where I grew up had bad phone service (phones went out often after heavy rains, and were often out for a week or more). Cell coverage is also quite bad there, and the internet is not the reliable mainstay many of us think of, either. We’re talking a place within three hours of one of the U.S.’s largest cities, BTW.

          AAM, a while ago you had a question about making the leap from being poor or working class to middle-class career success–or that’s how I interpreted it because “success” seemed to be defined in white-collar terms–and this sort of thing was definitely one of the challenges. I have similar concerns about working from home or distance education as defined as only positive goods, without consideration that many people do not have high-speed, air conditioning, or private workspace in their homes. It’s great if you’re rich enough to already have those things, but not-so-great if those things were a side benefit you were getting from your job or school.

    3. Brett*

      I don’t know a single person that has a landline in my state. My parents still have one but they’re on the other side of the country.

      I’ve done all work calls by cell phone for like…4 years or so? If it’s good enough to be a routine part of doing business, then it’s fine for interviews too IMO.

    4. Rana*

      “Find a damn land line.”

      Where, exactly? I work from home, and am cell-only. None of my friends have land lines, and local businesses don’t exactly let you rent their phones. The only person I know with a landline I could use is an hour’s drive away, and they’ve been considering going cell-only too. I’m not the only person in this situation, either.

      I agree that whining over a fixable situation is stupid and unprofessional, but it’s also important to recognize that sometimes what looks like a whine is actually a statement about real difficulty.

    5. LL*

      “find a damn land line”

      Good luck with that when you live in a state that has already repealed the universal telephone service obligation. There are areas of my state where you literally cannot get landline service, either residential or business.

      1. Malissa*

        Exactly! I have VOIP service for my land line. I was almost impossible to get an actual land line when we started building our place. The phone company wouldn’t let us lay down our own line. They would put the line in a ditch if we dug it and left it open for a two week period during which they could schedule it. But they wouldn’t schedule until the ditch was dug.
        I live on a gravel pile, any ditch that is dug fills back in in almost 24 hours, unless it’s 6 feet wide. And who in their right mind leave a 450 foot long ditch open for that long anyway?
        We’ve had VOIP service of some sort since we moved onto our property.

        1. Kelly O*

          See, when we lived back home, we actually had a landline because you couldn’t get a signal at the house. (We also couldn’t get cable because we were too far off the road, so we had to use a Dish.)

          But in that particular area the cell service was quite bad, so pretty much everyone out there still had a landline at that point. It’s my understanding that’s gotten better in the last year or two, but people still have them.

          I live in a Houston suburb and have great reception. It’s one of those suburb living tradeoffs I will gladly take.

      2. -X-*

        Can you give us some examples of these places that used to have landlines but now there is no service?

    6. Long Time Admin*

      Hey, Grumpy Andy,

      I’ll get a land line if you pay for it. (I’m not made of money, you know.)

      1. Andy Lester*

        I don’t care if you get a land line or not. It’s not me who is going to be passed by for a job because I’m on a crappy phone that drops the call during the interview.

        You saying “I’ll get a land line if you pay for it” is like saying “I’ll wear a suit to the interview if you pay for it.” Nobody’s going to pay for a suit, but what does that matter if you lose the job to someone who makes that better first impression?

        It’s all about doing what you can to make the best impression you can. You make those choices, not me.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But Andy, shouldn’t the advice be “take the call on a line with reliable service and sound quality,” not “use a landline”?

          In any case, the reality is that many candidates don’t have reasonably easy access to a landline, and a hiring manager who doesn’t adjust to that reality risks missing out on excellent candidates.

          If someone does a prescheduled phone interview standing on a loud street, yes, I’m going to take note of that and question their judgment. But if an otherwise good candidates is in a quiet place but happens to have a dropped call, I’m not going to penalize them for that. I’m not going to lose excellent candidates for being part of the majority view on this. I mean, it’s starting to become like saying “you shouldn’t use a car because it might break down; use a horse and buggy instead if you want to be sure of a good impression.”

          1. Andy Lester*

            shouldn’t the advice be “take the call on a line with reliable service and sound quality,” not “use a landline”?

            Yes, of course. My point is that throwing up your hands and saying “Oh, well, crappy phones are just the way it is” is self-defeating and wrong.

            I don’t have a land line, either, and I wouldn’t suggest someone install one for the purpose of an interview. That doesn’t make sense. It also doesn’t make sense to be blithely unaware of the negative impression that it makes to be on a bad phone.

            1. Kelly O*

              You’re making a very large assumption here – that the quality of the call you’re going to make on a mobile phone is less than the quality of the call you would make on a land line.

              Going back to your suit analogy, that’s like saying all suits are poorly made because your experience is with one particular brand or two of suit. There are a wide variety of suits out there, and to a point you can have a large hand in how well-made your suit is, based on your own financial investment and time spent researching a quality product.

              1. twentymilehike*

                You’re making a very large assumption here – that the quality of the call you’re going to make on a mobile phone is less than the quality of the call you would make on a land line

                Yes! Considering the conversation upthread about the quality of landlines in some areas … I wouldn’t dream of taking an important phone call on my landline because of the poor sound quality. It’s torture to have to use it! I only still have it because it’s part of my “bundle.” On the otherhand, my mobile has perfect reception in my home and I can’t remember the last time I had a call drop. That’s not the case for everyone–I just happen to live in a metro area with lots of cell towers in a crappy apartment with terrible wiring.

            2. Ariancita*

              Agree that the costs of job searching are the burden of the candidate, but your suit analogy doesn’t really work in terms of comparing expenses. A suit is a one time cost with occasional cleanings (if they can’t just borrow one from a friend or relative). Initial installation is expensive and then there is the added monthly cost of the subscription. This is an additional expense, because candidates must also have cell phones, and can be prohibitive for many job seekers who are currently unemployed.

            3. Kou*

              Cell phone quality isn’t normally crappy, nor would poor sound quality reflect negatively on you in an interview. All of your assumptions here are a pretty big stretch.

          2. Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham*

            Alison, my dear, I would definitely agree that it is better to “use a horse and buggy instead if you want to be sure of a good impression.”

            But as for this telephone, I am not in favor of it in any form. I just don’t understand why it is necessary to have a telephone. Is this an instrument of communication or torture?

            1. Kelly O*

              Dear Dowager Countess,

              I am your biggest admirer. I love you in ways that are now legal in Maryland, so I suppose we will have to move there.

              Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s terribly middle class.


            2. khilde*

              Oh, oh! I just started watching this and would love to see more references to this show worked in on this blog, as we have so successfully done with the chocolate teapots. Please, please! I’m not witty enough to do it.

    7. bob*

      Sorry dude take some Metamucil or something. It does make the advice less valid because land line only is irrelevant now.

      I haven’t had a land line in nearly 10 years, haven’t missed it one bit and I’ve NEVER had a single interviewer mention it as an issue nor have I dropped a call. Maybe your crappy cell phone is a problem but for most of us they work just fine.

      Maybe in 1997 cell phones had a lower call quality but that’s ridiculous and indefensible argument now.

    8. Vicki*

      I don;t use either. I use a Skype number. It “rings” on my computer; I answer. Just like a telephone.

      Technology: ain’t it wonderful?

  2. Anon2*

    As someone who works for a conference call company, landlines usually have much better audio quality and reliability. But ….. so many people do not have a home landline anymore (including me) that it’s become common for people to have no landline alternative. I would just add that you should really know your coverage and call a friend to make sure you really do have adequate quality in whatever room you plan to take the call. Walk around, test your hands free and/or speaker – try to make sure your audio quality doesn’t make a starring appearance during the interview.

  3. Lanya*

    I am one of those people who got rid of my landline because my cell phone is my primary mode of communication, and it’s with me wherever I go. For my friends who do have landlines, their landline numbers have become the equivalent of the “secondary email account” that you give out to people you don’t necessarily like, put in the phone book, or offer to cashiers who want to send you coupons by email. I think land lines are on their way out.

    IMHO, I would think an interviewer would prefer calling a person directly on a cell phone rather than a communal family phone. I would not particularly want one of my kids picking up if an interviewer was calling.

  4. Anonymous*

    I do not know anyone my age (mid-20s) who has a landline…. and my parents just got rid of theirs!!!

    1. Anon*

      I have a landline (granted I live with my parents) and I’m in my mid-20s. I actually prefer giving that number because a)I’m not a fan of EVERYBODY having my number b)the more people that have my number the more spam calls you’re likely to get…

  5. Lore*

    Most cell phone plans also come with free call forwarding. I always give out my cell phone number for phone interviews, but if on the day in question I have either ready access to a landline or cell reception problems, I will often set the cell up to temporarily forward to the landline number.

  6. Chocolate Teapot*

    If a telephone interview is scheduled during the daytime, then mobile is the only option as far as I can see. Many was the lunchtime that I spent in a previous job sitting in the little park across the road from the office discussing my CV and weaknesses.

  7. KayDay*

    Yep, I don’t have access to a land line, except at work.

    And also I’ve noticed that in the past 5 years or so, the quality of cell phone reception has gone way up and the quality of land lines has either gone down or stayed the same and I just forgot how bad it was to begin with. My mother’s land line phone was always having major issues (if she had more time and money she would have sued the company for failing to provide the promised service, but it was just not worth the effort), until she switched to the cable company for phone service. My work land line is no better than my cell phone for sound quality. True, a land line never fully drops a call like a cell phone can, but I don’t really think that reception quality is a good reason to advocate using a land line.

    I do think candidates should make sure they are in a quite location with the best reception they can get, but I wouldn’t expect them to go to an elderly neighbors house just to use a land line.

  8. Jay*

    I think that location is definitely a bigger concern than call quality with cell phones these days. For an example from the other side, I once had a phone interview in which I was conferenced into a call which was clearly someone on a speakerphone in their car. I could barely hear (plus, I thought it was pretty rude to conduct an interview while driving. They were the ones who suggested the time.)

    Plus, my parents use a cordless phone for their landline and it tends to crackle if you move too far from the base. I’ve never had any call quality issues with my cell.

  9. John*

    I’m 34, work for a tech company in SF, and my wife and I just got rid of both of our cell plans — leaving just our land line for our only phone. It has been *awesome*. Not to mention we are saving $200/month now. I’d agree that doing interviews over a land line is *ideal*, but probably not super realistic anymore considering the sheer amount of folks that don’t have access to them. (ok that is so weird to say that!)

      1. Anna D.*

        I think we pay about $180 for cell phones for my and my husband’s cell phones. But they’re iPhones.

        1. Esra*

          Yea, if you’re willing to live in the dark ages without a smartphone, having a cell is pretty reasonable. My plan is 35/mo.

          1. Kelly O*

            Or if you use WiFi at home and at the office and can keep your data plan limited and reasonable.

            1. Esra*

              I’m going to upgrade when my contract is up next year, but I still can’t find a data plan that comes in under 50/mo. I’m hoping things get a bit more reasonable in the next 12 months, but not holding my breath.

              1. LL100*

                Not sure if you have metro pcs in your area, but that’s what I have and I pay $50/month that includes data.

          2. Ariancita*

            I use a smart phone with no data, just use the wifi when available. Nonetheless, my plan ends up 65/mo because I need unlimited calling during the day time work week hours.

          3. Anonymous*

            Yea, if you’re willing to live in the dark ages without a smartphone, having a cell is pretty reasonable. My plan is 35/mo.

            Before or after the “Taxes, fees and anything we can get away with” line?

            1. Esra*

              I got a sweet deal a few years back, so it’s 35 after tax and has unlimited after 6 and weekends, 200 daytime minutes, unlimited text, 60 min long distance, and voicemail.

          4. ARM2008*

            $35 a month!? Mine is $20 every 3 months :-) Rarely used, except to do phone interviews in the work parking lot while on break. Can’t get IT to give me a long enough cord to take the land line out there.

          5. anon.*

            I have a ‘dumb phone ‘ verizon unlimited talk/text/internet $50pay as you go. Never dropped a call, good voice quality. It’s a good option those of us who don’t need the bells and whistles, the phone was less than $30.

  10. Heather*

    Also haven’t had a land line in several years. My parents, neither of whom use computers, also got rid of their land lines! Clearly this is the direction we’re all moving. But I do think it’s important to check if you have consistent cell phone reception and get yourself to a place that you know you do not drop calls in.

  11. Anna D.*

    I would prefer to use a landline, given the choice, because I’m still scarred by the early days of bad reception on my cell phone (I remember once having to ask someone important to repeat themselves, seriously, like 5 times, which was embarrassing, but I had to understand what they were saying to answer the question!). But I too have joined the “cell only” crowd. I’m lucky enough that I can use my landline at work for phone interviews (I’m in a term position so I interview with my boss’s blessing), and I try to do that, but just a few weeks ago the interviewer called my cell phone instead of the landline I’d given, so I just went with it – and it was absolutely fine, no reception problems at all. So I agree with KayDay that I don’t think reception quality is as much an issue these days.

    However, my exception is: do NOT use the speakerphone on your cell. That’s where I think landlines still have an advantage. My husband and I are living in different cities right now (see term position above) and he has a tendency to put his phone on speaker but not stay close enough to it. I find the speaker MUCH harder to understand and I find I have to work harder and harder to figure out what he’s saying and it makes me cranky – which I don’t want to have happen on either side in a phone interview.

    1. Bridgette*

      And speakerphone reverb. My mom uses speakerphone all the time and it bugs the hell out of me. The reverb is really bad on her phone and she turns it up really loud, so my own voice echoing back to me blasts into my ears. Death to speakerphone!!!

      1. ChristineH*

        The reverb is really bad on her phone and she turns it up really loud, so my own voice echoing back to me blasts into my ears.

        Is that what that’s from?? There is nothing worse than hearing my OWN voice during a call…it is so, so distracting!

  12. AnotherAlison*

    Dropped calls: I couldn’t tell you when I’ve had a call just “drop” when I’m not moving around (excluding when other person on their cell phone is driving and drops the call). Find a quiet place with good reception and stay there; you should be fine.

    (Oh, and for the survey-takers out there. I DO have a landline, but we have all the ringers turned off and won’t answer it. It’s for my FAX MACHINE (lol) and so my youngest cell phone-less child can call 911 if needed.)

  13. Yvi*

    It’s interesting to see how different this seems to be in the US compared to where I am. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have a landline at home.

    1. Anonymous*

      Curious – where are you? Does everyone still have cell phones in addition to their landlines?

      1. Yvi*

        Germany. They pretty much all have cell phones in addition to land lines.

        Land lines come with broadband internet, and since almost everyone wants to have that (and the people who don’t usually also don’t ahve cell phones so they get a landline anyway), I seriously don’t know a single person without one.

        1. Anonymous*

          It’s the same in the UK – I’d gladly get rid of my landline but you can’t have broadband without it.

        2. Jen in RO*

          Landlines are much more common in Romania too, but a lot of people never use them. I only have mine for the ADSL and so that my grandma can call me (she still thinks that calling from a landline to a mobile phone is super expensive and won’t believe me that it’s not).

  14. Jubilance*

    Almost every phone interview I’ve done has been via cell phone, using my Google Voice number. I’ve never had a dropped call or quality issues. Of course YMMV, but I think the “always use a landline!” advice only really works if you’re in an area with spotty service like somewhere rural. I’ve always been an urban dweller & never had an issue with cell reception for phone interviews, whether at home, in my car, in a building, etc. Oh & I have done phone interviews in my car (parked of course), and with a headset the other party never even knew.

  15. Anonymous*

    The only good thing about using a mobile is that you can use headphones and have your hands free to take notes. Otherwise, it’s too unreliable as far as sound quality and signal.

    If I’m making the call, I prefer Skype, even if I’m calling someone’s phone, because I know my connection is good enough for a clear connection on my side, and I’ve got my hands free for notes.

    Yes, I can hold the phone in one hand and write with the other, but I’d rather be comfortable.

    1. twentymilehike*

      I really struggle with Skype, though I’ve heard a lot of people are fine with it. Pretty much every time I use it, there is some sort of delay, and my calls are constantly dropped. I used to use it to call family in Canada, but I’d be on the phone with grandma it would be dropping my call literally five times in a row, within the span of two minutes, and eventually I’d have to call on my regular line and just pay the arm and leg for it. I’ve tried Skype on my cell, my ipad, and multiple computers and the best result has been on my iphone over the Verizon 3G network (go figure).

  16. AG*

    I *wish* I had easy access to a land line, because I do agree that it is better for phone interviews, but the fact is that I generally don’t. When we lived on our own we dropped it (along with cable TV) for financial reasons, and now we are temporarily living with my MIL and she doesn’t have one either. I have done a couple phoners at my dad’s house on his land line, but that is an hour’s drive away (in a very traffic-heavy metro area) and rather inconvenient for my fiance because we only have one car.

  17. Hello Vino*

    The last time I lived somewhere with a land line was almost 10 years ago! The issue of cell phones dropping calls seems to be less a concern now.

    My phone interview advice is 1) make sure your phone is charged, 2) make sure you’re somewhere with good cell reception, 3) make sure you’re prepared. For every phone interview I’ve conducted in the past 2 years, the applicant sounded surprised/unprepared even though they knew exactly when I would be calling.

  18. Wilton Businessman*

    I’ve talked to over 90 people in the last year for technical positions. About half my candidates give me a cell phone number to call them, about half a land/voip number. I will admit that I can’t always tell when they are on a cell phone or not in terms of call quality.

    Sometimes I can tell and that leaves a negative impression in my mind. If I can’t understand you, I assume you didn’t answer my question correctly. I am very busy, I am not going to repeat myself.

    When the call drops, they get one call back and I immediately ask if there is another number where I can call you. If it drops again, I’m moving on to the next person.

    1. Spolio*

      If you can’t tell what kind of phone it is by the sound quality, how do you know that 50% are cell phones?

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        I run the number through my super secret NPA/NXX database and then cross-reference with a geocode locator. Once I triangulate on your position, I issue commands to your phone to give me the make and model. If it’s an iPhone, I’ll interview you. If it’s an Android device, you’re done.

  19. M*

    The idea of a phone that doesn’t go in your pocket is going to be completely foreign to kids 5-10 years from now – Land lines have gone the way of CDs and newspapers.

    1. Andrew*

      Which is to say that they still exist.

      New technologies do not kill older technologies, they just change the way they are used or make them less popular.

  20. Zee*

    If this was Europe, then I would say you’re advice change is overdue.

    But you and I live in the United States, where cell service has its issues. I could not hold an interview at my kitchen table on a cell phone because it is a dead zone. And throughout last week, during and after the storm, my whole house was a dead zone for my particular cell phone carrier.

    1. RF*

      “If this was Europe, then I would say you’re advice change is overdue.”

      Seriously, all of “Europe”? Not every European country has cell phone coverage the way Sweden has.

      1. Zee*

        I didn’t use the word “all.”

        While I have never been in Sweden, in many of the places I have been to throughout Europe (upwards of 10 countries), I had not one problem with my cell phone. My American cell phone worked much better over there (no dropped calls or interference) than it does here in the USA.

        Furthermore, many of my European friends (not Swedish) have done away with their landlines. They also have a better system in which you can buy any phone and purchase the plan separate; if you do not like a plan, you can switch it and take your phone. No contracts to keep you tied up for two years when you want a brand new phone.

  21. Mike*

    When I did my phone interview I used the Google talk web app to do the call. In fact, that is how I handled almost all of the calls I’ve made to them.

  22. Kiribitz*

    Call me strange if you must but I prefer a land line because of the larger handset. I’m a shoulder/ear clamper and it’s pretty darn hard on my neck to do that with my non-smart cell phone.

    We also recently moved from a house where you had to either be standing on the 2nd floor or by the front door to get reasonably consistent reception with a cell. And that was not in the middle of nowhere – it was near the interstate, between the state capitol and and an area with a very large military presence. I just think it’s important for those who scoff at land line users to recognize that not all areas have fabulous cell coverage.

    I’m in my mid-30’s so this may just be a case of me yelling at the damn kids to get off my grass already. Besides, if there aren’t any land lines & no phone booths, where is Clark Kent going to change into his Superman outfit?!

    1. Kelly O*

      You do know they make Bluetooth “handset” things that look like the handset on a regular phone, right? I nearly got one for my Mom last Christmas.

  23. Eric*

    Welcome to the 21st Century where land lines and fax machines are like dinosaurs. My “land line” is actually an unreliable IP phone that goes up and down with my internet.

  24. Kathy*

    I live in south central Alaska where we’re sure to have our power go out several times during the winter due to ice or snow build up on the power and phone lines, so not only do I have a land line, I have a phone with a cord that I use when the power goes out.

  25. Kate*

    I had a phone interview on my cell (and only) phone that started just after I read this post – and I now have a verbal job offer in hand! Anecdotal proof, but it worked for me today!

    FWIW, the interviewers were on speaker phone on the conference room landline, and I’m fairly confident that the call quality was better on my end.

  26. Not So NewReader*

    This has been an amazing read for me.
    Here where I live, we are BEGGING the powers that be for cell towers and cable lines.

    Companies do not want to do it because “there is no money in it”.

    A few years ago, a person (or persons) were found on a highway median. (Medians are very wide and very wooded.) They had been there for a couple weeks. They were dead. No cell service. This sparked an outcry- but not a lot of improvement.
    I am sure folks in Alaska can tell similar stories.
    Some of us are dinosaurs but it’s not by choice….

    1. twentymilehike*

      WOW. I don’t believe “there is no money in it” is true. My husband and I travel a lot and we’ve taken to carrying a CB radio in the trunk along with the first aid kit and road flares, but are continually amazed at where we get reception still! We drive across the Mojave desert frequently and it used to be a three hour dead zone–Now I get reliable service the whole way. It’s amazing …

      Hopefully you will get better service soon!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        People have promised to pay the cable company huge fees to run cable lines down their roads- and the cable company still will not do it.

        I am not grasping this business model:
        Customer: “Yes, I will pay you 10K to do x work.”
        Business: “No, thanks.”


        1. Catherine*

          Not that surprising, really. Many parts of the U.S. only got electricity because of the Rural Electrification Administration.

  27. GeekChic*

    I don’t have a cell and never have. Every time I’ve priced out cell phones (no data) my landline and long distance plans come out way cheaper (every mobile provider in my area is amazed at my current plan). If it ever gets cheap enough I’ll switch.

  28. Evan*

    I think the advice needs to be “Make sure you are calling from a clear and understandable line”

    I don’t really care if you call me from your cell. But if I can’t understand you or if the call drops more than once you probably will not be getting the job.

    I have probably had 5-10 candidates in the last year have this problem. It is totally unprofessional unless there are seriously extenuating circumstances.

    1. Anonymous*

      Agreed, it’s making sure you are calling from a phone with a clear and reliable connection. If you decide you want to call in from a cell phone, as long as it doesn’t cause any problems, it’s fine. But if the call drops or I can’t understand you/hear you, that’s not going to be favorable for your chances of getting the job.

  29. Jessica*

    I’m 32 years old, and this really sparked my thinking about when I last had a landline. When I went to college (1998), the school didn’t have separate lines to each room. We had to go out in the hall and use one of two on the floor (they paged you over the loudspeaker). My junior year, they finally had wired up direct-in-room phone lines, so I did have a real landline phone for two years then; however, I didn’t pay for long distance (used calling cards, as it was cheaper). Then I moved out on my own and was on the road so much for work that my housemate and I didn’t even have time to set up a landline. (We had a work-provided cell phone at that time.) I quit that job, moved back to my home state, got an apartment, and then couldn’t get a landline set up at all. All I had was dial-up (that area literally just got something other than dial-up a year and a half ago, so they are a bit behind the times), so I really just wanted a landline for that. I still couldn’t get any of the companies to set me up (something with the phone line on the side of the house), so I got a cell phone. I tried again later, still no dice.

    After thinking through all that, I realized that I haven’t had a landline in 10 years. I don’t know anyone who has a landline except my parents and grandparents, although my parents use their landline only for dial-up because (yep, you guessed it), they live in an area that only received access to DSL in the past six months, and their particular area hasn’t been completely wired yet. The only people I know who have landlines either do not have cell phones or live in areas where they need the landline for dial-up internet access still. (I have stand-alone DSL, luckily.) I wouldn’t have believed it had been that long until I thought that all through. When I married and moved up to a different state, neither of us had had a landline in so long, it just seemed weird to even try to get one. (We had cable internet for a long while, too, until stand-alone DSL was available in our area.)

    Where would I find a landline? We don’t even have any pay phones anywhere anymore.

  30. Devon*

    I wouldn’t risk it – as a hiring manager, I know dealing with reception issues can be annoying.

    Recently, I had an phone interview scheduled and when I called at the appointed time, the candidates phone was out of service. Oops.

  31. Kethryvis*

    FTR, i did two phone screens last week on my cell phone. i gave my cell phone to these folks because my cell has caller ID on it, whereas my home phone does not… and these phone screens were right in the thick of ELECTION-O-RAMA 2012 and was being barraged with phone calls from every political anything you could imagine. i got tired of answering that line, thinking it would be someone important, only to get a robocall or a phone bank. Giving them my cell phone ensured that I’d get the call right away, and not get it blocked by some stupid robocall that hit me at the same time.

    And while one of my phone screens did drop… it wasn’t me who dropped it! It was the recruiter i was talking to whose VOIP dropped. Go figure! (and, ftr, i got interviews off both phone screens. So there’s that!)

  32. ChristineH*

    I’d say as long as the candidate uses a line, be it cell or landline, that’s reliable and has good sound quality, it doesn’t matter. Just be sure you’re in a quiet location and tell those in your household you have a phone interview (if pre-scheduled) so they don’t disturb you.

    Actually, we just got rid of our landline too; same wireless phones we’ve been using, but converted the line to behave as a cell phone. We also have a micro-cell that acts as a cell tower. Once we worked out the kinks, it’s generally been working well. I generally use that rather than my cell phone for most calls.

  33. Queendingo*

    As many folks in the northeast are discovering post Sandy, a land line works when many other methods of communication do not. As a Gulf-coast resident this is sort of common knowledge and many people around here keep at least one old- style phone (corded so that it doesn’t require electricity) handy for emergencies and for businesses which need their communications to get back up and running. Just because it’s old school doesn’t make it obsolete!

  34. Holly Hall*

    I own an internet radio station, and I will tell you if a host or a guest uses a cell phone its a nightmare It makes everyone look bad, unprofessional and listeners will give up! I know in the US landlines are almost extinct! IF you use a cell phone Do Not be near a computer, do not interview while in a care or walking a street. DO be in a high frequency zone area, DO NOT use your speaker phone, headset or blue tooth. Its frustrating as A lister guests are hard to get and they tend to do interviews on the fly. Any advice?

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