During a recent school workshop on how to create a good impression at interview, the issue of mobile phones came up. “I never don’t have my phone with me – I don’t know what I’d do without it”, the Year 9 pupils tell me – surreptitiously stroking the hidden mobile in their pockets. I am really clear in my advice to them: TURN YOUR PHONE OFF DURING AN INTERVIEW. And yet I worry that they don’t understand how important it really is.
I tell them the story of the bright law graduate who finally secures an interview at a top law firm. During the interview her phone rings and, to the horror of the interviewer, she takes the call. “Did she get the job?”, the wide eyed school students ask. To use their vernacular – obvs not!
Two aspects of the phone discussion concern me. Firstly, why don’t people expect to use normal good manners when a phone is concerned? It is rude to take a call when you are in a formal discussion with another person – if that moment isn’t important enough to you for you to turn off the phone why should the other person invest any attention or interest in it either? Secondly, I wonder if mobile phones haven’t become some kind of security blanket or comforter. When you have your phone on you know you are connected to the world, you can call people, they can call you and you can find out anything you want. The old advertisement for Stand cigarettes comes to mind – you’re never alone with a mobile phone… “What if someone is dying?” the children ask. I feel old and sad because I know that life ultimately doesn’t depend on the calls you can’t take.