Pet Peeve: Cell Phone Ringing in Interviews

The informational interview had only just begun when my guest’s cell phone began blaring a rock song signaling an incoming call.  She paused, dug the phone out of her purse and sheepishly pushed the “ignore” button.  That worked for 30 seconds until the song returned.  This time, the phone was turned off. 

We’re all guilty of forgetting to turn off our Blackberries or phones until we are embarrassed by rings at the wrong times.  There’s a growing backlash against phones ringing and conversations being held in public places.  I learned about the downsizing of a local company through a not-so-private conversation by the guy sitting on the train behind me last week. 

Before jeopardizing an important interview or business meeting, be sure to turn off or silence the ringer on phones.  Since I’ve also been with people who answer cell phones during business meeting, I thought it would be a good idea to share these 10 rules of cell phone etiquette from Joanna Krotz, who writes on business marketing and management issues and heads Muse2Muse Productions:   

1. Never take a personal mobile call during a business meeting. This includes interviews and meetings with co-workers or subordinates.

2. Maintain at least a 10-foot zone from anyone while talking.

3. Never talk in elevators, libraries, museums, restaurants, cemeteries, theaters, dentist or doctor waiting rooms, places of worship, auditoriums or other enclosed public spaces, such as hospital emergency rooms or buses.  And don’t have any emotional conversations in public–ever. 

4.  Don’t use loud and annoying ring tones that destroy concentration and eardrums.  Grow up!

5.  Never “multi”task by making calls while shopping, banking, waiting in line or conducting other personal business.

6.  Keep all cellular conversations brief and to the point.

7.  Use an earpiece in high-traffic or noisy locations.  That lets you hear the amplification, or how loud you sound at the other end, so you can modulate your voice.

8.  Tell callers when you’re talking on a mobile, so they can anticipate distractions or disconnections. 

9.  Demand “quiet zones” and phone free” areas at work and in public venues, like the quiet cars on the Amtrak Metroliner.

10.  Inform everyone in your mobile address book that you’ve just adopted the new rules for mobile manners.  Ask them to do likewise.  Please.

I adhere to most of Joanna’s etiquette tips, but don’t feel I can impose the last one on my friends and colleagues–yet.  However, I hope more people adhere to her recommendations.  For those in the job market, it will enhance their chances of  second interview.

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