How one glance can ruin a job interview


Do you sometimes glance at your phone while in a face-to-face conversation? Most of us do. But recent studies show that during an interview or in a meeting, letting our eyes rove to our phone can cost us the trust of the person looking right at us.  And if you’re interviewing for a job, it can cost you a position.

The practice of checking texts while interacting with someone is so popular and so damaging that it’s now got a name – phubbing, which means snubbing with a phone.   And it’s the new insult.

An everyday gesture that hurts everyday relationships

According to numerous studies, no matter how quickly or innocently we glance at our phone during an interaction, we’re sending the message that we don’t find the person we’re with all that important.

It may be second nature for many of us to keep an eye on our phones, but it’s a common habit that is hurting our relationships, says Dr. James Roberts, author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Are you Addicted to your Smartphone?

Every kind of relationship is affected by phubbing, including workplace ones.phubbing cartoon

The research of Dr. Roberts shows that managers who phubbed employees were less trusted and not as likely to be considered fair by their staff. The employees reported less likelihood to talk openly to these managers, and less loyalty and pride in their organization overall.

It works both ways. A study out of the University of Southern California finds checking your phone at the wrong time can greatly irritate a boss and colleagues, and subtly hurt your reputation.  It certainly will hurt your job interview.

At The Bagg Group, we know our clients — hiring managers at the best companies in the GTA — consider it a serious red flag if you check your phone while interviewing.

 The four top reasons why workplace experts say checking your smartphone can backfire on you in an interview, or any meeting:

  1. You’re being that person –the one at the party who scans the room for someone more interesting while they talk to you. In other words, the researchers say phubbing signals a lack of respect.
  2. It comes off as fidgety: In an interview especially, looking at your phone is seen as lacking focus, not multi-tasking.
  3. It begs the question, “Are you listening?” Checking your phone suggests you’re not really paying attention.
  4. It shows a lack of willpower. This is harsh, but bosses and interviewers say they worry that those who look at their phone, without having a good reason to do so, lack self-discipline.

 Don’t be tempted – keep your phones buried deep in your bag or briefcase during interviews.

The research also indicates that older professionals and those with higher incomes especially consider it to be unacceptable to check text messages or emails during meetings of any kind.

If you’re a millennial, do you think the over-40s in your workplace are being hyper sensitive?

If you do, surveys show you are in the majority. Most people under 40 don’t think it’s a big deal to look at their smartphones during informal meetings or exchanges–until it happens when they’re doing the talking.

Not surprisingly, no one of any age enjoys being phubbed.

If you do need to check your phone, be open about it

Recruiters at Bagg Pro, Bagg Technology Resources, Bagg @ Your Service, Bagg Managed Resources and Turn Key Staffing Solutions are exceptionally skilled at active listening. That’s how we place the right candidate in the right job. It’s why we win best in our field for most satisfied clients and candidates.

But like everyone, there are times when interviews or meetings take place just as we’re waiting to hear back on time-sensitive issues. When that happens, we have to bring our smartphone into a meeting –and glance at our email. But we don’t do it furtively.

We believe in open, transparent communications. If you must check your smartphone for legitimate reasons, tell people ahead of time. This way they’re prepared, not phubbed.

Want to know if you are a phubber? Take the test used by researchers. A “yes” to any one of the questions confirms you are.

  1. You check your phone while you dine with others.
  2. You keep your cell phone in sight when spending time with others.
  3. You hold your cell phone in your hand when you’re with other people.
  4. You pull out your phone when it rings or beeps — even if you’re in the middle of a   conversation.
  5. You glance at your phone while in mid-conversation.
  6. You check your phone for messages from other friends while you’re in the presence of the friends you are with.
  7. You use your phone while speaking to friends.
  8. You’ve used your cell on a date.

Some habits die hard, and phubbing is likely one of those. But experts say if you stop yourself, you’ll notice improvements at home, at work, even while dining. One study shows that 97% of people claim their food tasted worst when phubbed during a meal!  Now that’s incentive to take a break from your smartphone.

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