How Technology Tanks an Interview

Yesterday I met with several direct hire and exec recruiters for a networking / brainstorming meeting. Pet peeves always come up during these talks and here are some direct from the recruiters’ mouths:

“Get this,” said Gary an IT recruiter. “I’m interviewing a guy and he interrupts the interview to take a call from his cell phone!” Gary went on to describe how the candidate told Gary that the call was very important – during the interview. “Needless to say,” said Gary, “the rest of the interview lasted about 5 minutes and I will not place this guy – EVER.”

Think about it, if the interview to get the job wasn’t important enough to put calls on hold for a half hour, what’s going to happen on the job?

“I want to talk about CRACKberrries,” said Gina B. “During an interview a woman is actually holding up her crackberry and typing with her thumbs like this,” she demonstrated. How important is it to answer email during an interview? Truly?


1. Take control of your personal technology! You control it – it does not control you.

2. Turn cell phones OFF during an interview or put the ringer on silent (not vibrate).

3. Turn Blackberries off during an interview. You can email AFTER you get to your car. In fact, why not email that interviewer a thank you note when you get to your car? Use technology for good. 🙂

Of course, I do have to say how our meeting ended. As things wound up, Patrick whipped out his Sprint phone that had email, a keypad, phone access, THE WORKS. He starts emailing his candidates and returned some calls. Proudly he said, “Hey, at least I waited until the meeting wrapped up!”

You can do the same.

What to do when an Interviewer Uncovers Your Digital Dirt

Did you know that 77 percent of recruiters Google candidates? It’s true, according to a 2006 ExecuNet survey. And 35 percent of recruiters eliminate candidates based on what they find on Google.  

As a job seeker, it’s imperative you know what people can see online about you. Do you have digital dirt? You know, that fun party you were at – and the pictures that were posted on your friend’s blog. Oops! 

Two things you can do about digital dirt – bury it or sweep it under the rug. If there are incriminating photos or crazy postings – ask the blogger to remove them. If however, your misdeeds were featured in a major newspaper, say The Wall Street Journal – then you’ll need to take more dramatic action. One quick step – start your own professional blog. Blogs get higher rankings in Google and there is a chance you can quickly bury your dirt.  

However, if your dirt is uncovered by an interviewer, be prepared to explain yourself calmly and BRIEFLY during an interview. 

Challenge: Take action! Google yourself right now – and check out the dirt. Use quotes around your first and last name – so the dirt is all on you. 🙂

Networking: How to choose a group

I know. You heard it over and over – “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that gets you hired.” That translates to networking. When deciding on which networking group (or groups) to join, I recommend people join at least three types of groups: 1. Professional Group: Many professional groups for your specific field have job boards accessible only to their members. Professional groups also give you an opportunity to build a network within your field and often you get a chance to put a small bio on their website in the members section. This helps you build your online brand – as 77% of employers now Google candidates prior to interviewing them. 2. Peer Group: When you’re in job search mode, groups like 40+ can provide support and brainstorming. Make sure your group is proactive and positive. Groups that become “downers” are not going to help you with your search. Employers often hire attitudes over skill sets – and that means positive ones.  3. Common Activity Group: Groups like Toastmasters are a good example. You not only network, but you learn a skill that enhances your career at the same time! Now, go on, pick your group and get active!

Top 3 Tips for Telephone Interviews

Today, I’m excited to welcome guest author and syndicated columnist, Joyce Lain Kennedy who has provided her Top 3 Tips for Telephone Interviews: 

1. The telephone call is a screening call. The interviewer aims to be sure that your qualifications meet the requirements of the position. Draw verbal links between a company’s requirements and your qualifications: “You want X, I offer X; you want Y, I offer Y; you want Z, I offer Z.” Make the connection!

When the call comes in unsolicited and you don’t already know the requirements of a position, ask: “To be sure we’re clear on this position, can you tell me the job’s requirements?” Take notes and connect the dots.

2. Make phone appointments. Whenever possible, don’t answer questions on the fly when the call comes in. And especially don’t interview on your cell phone while you’re out and about. You won’t be prepared and you won’t do your best. Schedule an appointment for your phone interview. Say that you’re walking out the door to a meeting across town and will call back as quickly as you can:

“Thank you for calling. I appreciate your attention. I’m very interested in speaking with you about my qualifications. Unfortunately, this is not a good time for me — I’m headed out the door. Can I call you back in an hour?”

If a recruiter insists on calling you back rather than the other way around, do what you would do for any other interview: Be ready early as a reminder to interview as a professional. Change out of your jeans and into the type of clothing you’d wear in a  business meeting. Most importantly, treat the call as an overture to an in-room meeting. And remember, a smile makes your voice sound better.

3. Don’t blow off the screening call. Interviewers ask about your experience, skills, competencies, education, your inconvenient geography, and whether your financial requirement is too low or too high for the job’s predetermined compensation range. (Know in advance the market pay range for various jobs by checking with such sites as

Use back-up phrases. After answering a question, add such follow-on phrases as “Does that answer your question?” “ Have I sufficiently answered your question about my managerial experience?” “Is this the kind of information you’re seeking?”

 Take telephone interviews seriously:

The reason to take screens seriously is that if you flunk them, you won’t be passed on to the next step in the hiring process, the selection interviewing sequence.

 Joyce Lain Kennedy (San Diego, CA) is a nationally syndicated careers columnist and the author of seven career books, including the recently released THIRD edition of Job Interviews For Dummies. For four decades, she has advised millions of readers on their career development and job search strategies.