Texted Out of a Job

So, one of the formational events of my young scientific career was getting a great internship at the DuPont company when I was in college.  And because this was such a positive experience for me, I have been really pleased that we get to hire interns for my current group.  I see it as an opportunity to give young scientists a chance for the same experience I had.

So, last week, we interviewed prospective candidates for the internship.  Most of them are finishing their sophomore or junior year in college.   Most kids are really nervous, one interview stood out for me…

…he was a young man who was finishing his sophomore year.  He was bright, energetic, maybe a bit cocky (not a terrible thing in the right dose), and was doing fine in the interview…

… when in the middle of our discussion, he paused, took out his vibrating cell phone and took the time to read a text-message that he had just received.

Honest to God.  I was floored.

I came this close to just stopping the interview (we had about five minutes left) and saying, “I should tell you that by doing that you just blew the whole thing, but thanks for coming in…” – but I didn’t have the heart.  I went through the motions and sent him on his way.

If I had really been thinking, maybe I should have texted (I had his cell phone number from his resume) him: OMG no job 4 U!!!

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47 thoughts on “Texted Out of a Job

  1. I cannot believe he did that! I mean, I guess it's one thing if he had looked up and said "So sorry. My mom's having brain surgery and I'm waiting for an update." But really what are the chances of that? I think with some people texting is such a part of life that it's like they react without thinking. Obviously he should have thought just a bit more and maybe he would have an internship now!

  2. Steph — I would have been completely happy with, "Sorry, I forgot this was on, let me turn if off…" — we debated whether our HR person ought to give him some feedback, but we decided this was something he needed to figure out on his own.

  3. Wow.

    I know you're interviewing me right now and everything, but hang on a sec, I just got a text. Can't let a job interfere with my life or anything, especially since I'm assuming you're going to hire me anyway…….
    Love your last line! :)

  4. That's incredible! And I thought it was rude when kids text during dinner..Maybe it is time for classes if their parents aren't gonna teach them before they leave home.

  5. Boy does that take me back. In one of my interviews with a Big 6 accounting firm near college graduation, I brought up how I had been surprised to end up in a hot tub with my tax professor who didn't have a swimsuit so just went in his boxers. Now, it was totally innocent because his wife was there, however, it was completely inappropriate to bring up in an interview and totally unlike me! I actually placed 1st in the state for interview skills my senior year of h.s.! LOL I can't even remember how it came up but, in hindsight, I think it happened because that would have been the completely wrong job for me.

  6. whoa. people need to learn some cell phone etiquette. people are SO incredibly rude. i have one friend who for some reason if someone calls HAS to answer the phone. so a couple of times she's answered the phone at my house and just talked on the phone. for like, an hour. SO.FRIGGIN'.RUDE. texts and cell phone usage are just out of control these days.

  7. o_O Geez… I can't believe someone would actually do that. If he seemed more nervous it might've made sense, as maybe he just wasn't thinking… but it sounds like he was just an idiot manners-wise. It's not too late to text him… ;-)

  8. Oh my Goodness. Of course he was texted out! I'm always afraid to bring my phone into an interview etc in case I forget to turn it off….but I guess in a different era…wowee.

  9. Steve – I would have totally gone for texting him in the interview. I would ask him if he knew the meaning of "ysngtj"….
    some ppl….ttyl….
    PS – on an ironic side note – I had the SAME thought as Steph did about a family member in surgery or something….and we haven't even talked about your post yet….guess that means we're pretty seriously married! :-)

  10. Wow! What was he thinking? I guess if he was waiting for some urgent message, he might have mentioned that upfront…or as it came in…but I guessing it was no such thing. Silly kid!

  11. I probably would've called him on it, people like that really bother me.On a side note, I would love to have cell phone jammer. Can you imagine nobody within about 40 feet talking on their cell. Ever! That would be bliss

    • me too!!
      i considered taking away the phone of a women who answered a call 30 seconds after walking into Trader Joe’s, then continuing the call throughout the entire store. How hard is it to just let a call go to voicemail and return it when it won’t disturb 200 people?

  12. I supervise a bunch of Millennials—really good workers—and I can absolutely imagine some of them being clueless that this might've been viewed as rude. They're just so used to be connected all the time…. Some Boomers think we Gen Xers are too interested in technology. They haven't seen anything yet.

  13. Hahahaha! Oh gosh. This is just unbelievable. Even if he didn't realise it was rude, he'd have to have been really dim not to understand this would adversely impact his chances. Or perhaps it was just habit — feel the buzz, grab the phone and check compulsively. Technology has enslaved us! This is why I keep my phone off when at work or in class — gotta make sure I learn how to live without it.

  14. Kids today…no one teaches them social graces, manners, or proper English. Especially parents. He'll probably never figure out why he didn't get the job.

  15. The only excuse would be a family emergency – dad's in the hospital or something of that sort. Had he prefaced that before checking, i would have been a bit more lenient.
    Thing is – I think you should've told him. Maybe the idiot would've gained a little insight for his next interview. Doof.

  16. That is too funny. I think if you would have said something he would have chalked it up to all of you being too old to understand the younger generation of today. It could not have been HIS fault. Now, if he would have acknowledged that he was wrong to have it on by saying "My Bad!" I'd have thrown his ass out the door.

  17. I agree with Java Janie…with all the new technology, there should be an ettiquette class offered or this should be covered in college as interns seek out positions.
    A text message from you would have been hillarous! Maybe it's not too late. Who knows, yours could be the text message he reads during his next interview.
    I think they would call that "text karma". ;-)

  18. I can't say that I'm overly surprised. I've just accepted an assignment at work where I'm handling five trainees. Whenever I get new trainees, I usually will meet w/ them for a while and go over some procedural issues. It just so happened that I also needed to meet w/ some of my senior folks so I had the whole group in part of the meeting. After the meeting, one of my senior folks told me that one of the trainees spent a good deal of time texting under the table. Since I didn't catch them first hand, I let it go. However, for the next meeting I let the group know that all cellphones would need to stay in their cubicle.

  19. Eli's Dad — sadly I'm not surprised — though I will say that I've seen too many VPs (who are easily old enough to know better…) be unable or unwilling to not "blackberry" during meetings…

  20. This is interesting as I haven't seen it first hand myself yet. Did you see the 60 Minutes article about this a few weeks ago? It was stunning.

  21. These kids today are just so conditioned to this kind of behaviour. How terrible for him. You probably should have mentioned something to him at the end of the interview about his texting habits.

  22. I have a coworker who can’t get promoted because his supervisor & boss both think he’s on the internet too much. The thing is, he gets all of his work done well & on time… so I don’t think he should be penalized… it’s a different generation. But he also has the sense NOT to take personal calls during work or use his cell when someone wants to talk to him.

  23. Ho.lee.crap.

    I don’t know what the right thing to do is but I’m such of a “teacher” (and a mean one, at that!) that I think I would’ve told him. “Okay, this concludes the interview. Do you know why?”

    Meanie! But seriously, I don’t do that stuff to kids/ subordinates to *be* mean, I do it so they have a chance to learn. Where did I get it from? My elders.

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