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YOUR OFFICE COACH: Put away the laptops when interviewing job candidates

I am trying to decide whether I should feel offended by my last job interview. The format was a panel discussion with three interviewers, including two young men in their 20s and a woman in her 60s. The woman was friendly, attentive and interested in my answers. The guys brought laptops and typed continuously for the entire hour, occasionally looking up to interject a question.

Although the conversation was relaxed and friendly, I couldn't help feeling that the laptops were a nuisance. It was like having dinner with someone who constantly keeps checking their cell phone. On the other hand, this is my first interview in eight years, so perhaps I'm behind the times. Has this become accepted interviewing behavior?

At best, these preoccupied gentlemen may have been diligently transcribing every syllable of your answers. At worst, they were responding to emails or working on other projects. But either way, their absorption with electronic devices was counterproductive. Not only did they appear rude and disrespectful, but they also missed a lot of information.

Important interviews are conducted face to face for a reason. When you are in someone's presence, or even viewing them on screen, you can learn a great deal from their body language, facial expressions and other non-verbal behaviors. So even if these laptop jockeys were accurately capturing the content of your comments, they certainly weren't getting to know you.

When screening job candidates, interviewers sometimes forget it's not only they who are making a decision. The applicants are choosing an employer, and boorish behavior can easily drive them away.

Marie G. McIntyre, a workplace coach, gives free tips at yourofficecoach.com.

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