Sunday, September 25, 2005

Military Discipline & Mobile Phones (Edit)

The first thing that the presenter said in the career services presentation was the same as the first thing an Indian senior told us in the Indian Student Association career counselling presentation. Both were desparately begging us to do one thing. And they summed it up by saying "if your mobile phone rings when a company has come to campus for its corporate presentation, forget about the job. Don't even apply there. Coz' you wont get the job." Here is mobile phone etiquette. Edit: The link is newly added to avoid controversy. I forwarded an email or cut and paste from some web page to my blog. At that time I did not know who the author was. So I did not credit the author and that has upset him/her. Added to that I re-quoted and linked the blog. So this edit is to say "its him/her who wrote it and not me". My apologies to the original writer. As some well-wishing commenters have advised I am knocking off that blog and linking the "original" directly. Usually I am good at crediting the source (like the Ilayaraja blog) but there are times when I slip up, so I apologize for that.

I hate ring tones. Seriously my serious passion is to pick a person who is terribly excited about his/her ringtone and rip them apart saying that they aren't actually cool because of the ringtone but in fact they are very nauseating. Ringtone has become a nuisance to such a point that in my previous work place, I shifted from giving angry glares -> to saying "tch" loudly -> to saying "c'mon man! what the hell". While Indians aren't certainly the only offenders in the mobile phone etiquette, given the nature of the money that is in our hands now and our population, we could certainly be the biggest.

Imagine this! This is very common in India. In a meeting when somebody is giving a presentation or convening a meeting, it is very common for one or many of the attendees to (a) not put the mobile phone in silent mode, (b) pick the mobile phone when it rings, (c) allow it to ring loudly, (d) pick the phone up, bend slightly down, cover the phone with his hands and groan into the phone "haan bol...mgoandsns cacdjsk..edjda". The part where he closes the phone with his hand, bends down and begins to make funny growling noises is an indication that he is showing courtesy to the fellow meeting attendees. I'd rather that he just talk loudly into the phone. According to me he has no manners anyway. The growling with closed hand just makes it worse. Initially I thought, how the hell the presenters tolerated such in-courteous behavior. Then in one meeting the presenter's phone rang, he stopped the presentation and said "haan bol! koi problem nahi... I will be home by 7:00". This is so regular. I am not even exaggerating a little bit.

I have blogged about this before but nevertheless, I'll say it again. Loud ringtones of the latest songs is not cool. Its obnoxious and often irritating. I once asked a very offensive collegue, how different the loud ringtone was from bringing a stereo system to work. Seriously think about it. Cell phone play movie songs, they play them loud. Stereo system plays movie songs and play them loud. If the "time period" of noise is the difference, I can play my stereo system in short bursts once every 5 minutes. Furthermore, most of the idiots would leave the phones in their cubicle and it would cry and scream its heart out until the person at the other end dies.

I'll tell you why this is especially obnoxious. Let us assume you have invited me for dinner to a restaurant to talk about something very important. And exactly at that same time (as our dinner appointment time), I commit to another friend that I will call him and talk about Ganguly's captaincy issue. So what do I do? I bring that friend along to the restaurant, say "hi" to you and talk to the friend continuously. The friend doesn't eat, he just sits there and talks with me about Ganguly. You obviously can't talk to me because the other guy is there constantly yapping away. Now remove the cricket-friend and replace him with a mobile phone. I am still talking to another person and not caring about you. How does it make a difference if I am talking to an actual person sitting there or into an instrument. It is all the same. I am ignoring you in both cases.

Reminds me of a time when I was interviewing folks. One girl was partiularly nervous during her interview. But she was reasonably/hire'ably smart. Suddenly her mobile rang in the middle of the interview. In her nervousness, she did not know how to react, she literally tore open her handbag and some how managed to shut the thing up. Normally, I would have rejected her and asked her to leave right that moment. But I felt sorry for her and let it go. In about 2 minutes the darn thing screamed again. I told her "you might as well pick it up". She picked it up and it was her husband asking her if her interview went well. What kind of a stupid husband would call his wife at a time when he knows her interview is going on to check if everything was well. Anywho the mobile phone warnings has scared me suffeciently and i either (a) keep my phone switched off most of the time or (b) have put it in permenant silent mode, preferring to check missed calls and call back people later. You would think after all the warning, students would haave learned to behave. In a corporate presentation last week, I saw a person talking with a corporate recruiter, his cell phone rings, he cooly picks it up, stops it and continues talking. My eyes were popping out and so was the recruiter's.


Haarish said...

hey, after reading yours i'd like to quote an incident that happened three months ago. I am from a college called PSG Tech in coimbatore, i am doing a 5 year integrated course, i have lotsa friends who are doing this four year engineering stuff. They being in the final year had placements starting from June. TCS was the first company in the campus and a very close friend of mine got selected for the interview. He had this "January madham" song from "7G Rainbow colony" as his ringtone!

So i was told that the interview was supposed to be over at four in the evening. So i called up my close friend at 4.15 PM and didnt wait for him to reply, i quipped "How was it dude?". All he replied was "Shut up! Moron". Later i was told that my friend lost that job because i called him while he was getting interviewed and the HR was so irritated that he sent my friend out of the room.

By the way he got placed in CTS! Phew!! What a relief to hear that finally!!

Anonymous said...

"What kind of a stupid husband would call his wife at a time when he knows her interview is going on to check if everything was well?".

ha ha, one who does not want his 'smart' wife to secure a job.

- Barath

Paa"ji" said...

That was very well said BB, but sometimes you are stuck with them...while I was working in India I had to carry it all the time and answer it...if not 24, then atleat for 16 hours in a day... this was the policy of the division I worked in and it was part of the biggest banks in the world... ( I hope u got it)..... I was just sick of the thing ringing all the of my life revolved around since 02 I dont have a cellphone and I've lived all this time in the US and Canada..... and now people have started asking me how can I survive without one.... some even suggest that it is only 10 bucks to add a line on the family plan..:-) LOL

Ram said...


Naaah... I would certainly not reject a candidate just based on that cell phone ringing. I don't believe that it is enough reason to reject someone. For all I know, it could be an emergency and I should be sensitive to that.

I'd request that the candidate turn off the cell phone, if it annoyed me so much. But that may just be me.

Babs said...

As much as I hate when a mobile rings in a public gathering be it town hall meeting @ work or @ the movie hall, Loosing a job becos of that is a bit harsh, me thinks.

Well the solution to it is carry a Motorola fone :-), now I'm not saying becos I worked there but it has very useful button in the side mutes it instantly and if u want you can change the ring style w/o opening the fone, unlike some which u have to unlock the fone first.
(OK thats enuf propaganda :-)

The worst offenders are the one who dont pick but run outside whilst it rings loudly. Once at the movie hall this gal she didn't wanna pick the fone inside so she's running outside as it roared. Everybody was like u wanna answer that piece of shite, btw the movie was Sign's (I lost interest after that scene :-)

Hawkeye said...


/* I don't believe that it is enough reason to reject someone. */

i did not rejec t the girl. Thinking back if i had to do it again I might probably reject her. But the reality is if something like that happens in any interview (its 100% true for b school interviews) then you can forget about the job.

i know my second years who have lost a job for cell phones and other minute details. it is a reflection of how seriously you take the event.

I wanted to write about the commonly cited "emergency" reason. many people cite this reason. I dont think its a good enugh excuse to keep it turned on. statistically a half an hour granularity of shutting down a cell phone should not crush anybody.

Hawkeye said...


movie halls and cell phones are really a pain in the ass. here a blatant comparison between india and US has merit. it does not happen that much in the US but in India people cooly pick up their cell phones and talk into it during the movie. it should happen in 100% of the movies you walk into in any theatre in any city in india. I can bet my house on this. there is no exception.

Babs said...

I guess there are only 2 option in that case
1) Installing jamming device in all the theatres (Plausible).
2) Standard interface for changing ring tone (silent the fone using sms i.e) by all the corporates hence as you walk into any public gathering this unit sends info to base station where you are to change your configuration to silent, watever....
Former is better, cheaper and easier solution but I know it wud raise emergency issues (as long as ppl dont know they dont care). Latter wud be best solution but quite expensive and may not be worth the investment.

Anonymous said...

"I Have already complained about this in a very long post here" post is copied from

Please don't steal content or at least credit the original source. And Please read your own copyright page.

- original creator

Hawkeye said...

original creator,

the "long post" credits whoever it is and says it is a c&p. please see carefully.

Hawkeye said...

okay i just looked at the old post and it does not credit you.. but it does not credit me either.. it was a fwded mail or something i found somewhere. maybe i didnt know where i c&p'ed it from so i just did not credit anybody.

so its you! very good! I apologize for the ambiguity. when i get the time i'll change it to credit you.

Kapil said...


yes man! those forwaded mails are usually dicey. You just forward them to your blog and then someone is suddenly angry.

The old post looked unformatted to me and I thought this could be a cut and paste but did not know for sure.

Hawkeye said...


Well it is my fault really! I should have credited that the post was a forwarded mail, then itself instead of doing it now.

If the tables were turned I would have ripped apart the guy who stole my work. So in a way whoever the original writer is let me off lightly.

The thing is I always thought I credited it but did not know that I was absent minded enough to have not actually done that. It was my responsibility to have done that. SO I am letting the comment hang there as reminder for me not to forward mails to the blog.

The same thing happened with the "fight club" quote above. I thought it was so obvious that everybody wud know it until Senthil (who also quoted my copyright blog) pointed that out and I had to include it in my disclaimer. So in a way this is strike-2.

Anonymous said...


We all know you are absent-minded. You don't really need to drive that point. I trust you. However, I think your blog is getting more visibility now and so more people read it.

So it is better to get the small details right. Your long-term readers know you but new readers will judge you by these details. I would remove that old post altogether. It is too long. It does not add any value compared to everything else in the blog.

Hawkeye said...

ya..ya... (sigh) ya... i know.

/* I would remove that old post altogether.*/


Ram said...


I just cannot agree with your stand or just any of those people that you cite that reject people for cell phones even if I make an effort to explain my genuine circumstance. These employers are probably not worth it.

I would not want to work with an employer who is not sensitive to my circumstances. Period.

Everything I am talking about is applicable only in the US and not in other countries like India, where things are totally different.

Anonymous said...


This is the series of events :
1. Your phone was "on" during an interview
2.Your phone rang during the interview.

The normal rule should be, never reach step 2. No one really cares as to what kind of explanation you give about why step 2 happened, becuase you let step 1 happen.

The punishment is not for step 2, its for step 1.

If you care so much about the ocassion, then you wouldnt have left your phone on.


Ram said...


I am referring to some tough situations which are neither planned nor desired. There are also situations where I have seen that candidates are far too nervous that they accidentally forget to switch on their cell phones.

I should watch out for these and as an interviewer or employer, I would be considerate enough to accomodate that rather than to hastily judge an individual as careless.

I would look carefully at the body language before making this decision rather than just for the fact that the ring tone annoyed me for a few seconds. But again, that might just be me.

Hawkeye said...


Usually if people are expecting a phone call which they should not avoid they tell at the start of the interview. The common reasons are like "my wife is very pregnant I can receive a call anytime" (or) "so-and-so is terribly ill so I need to keep the phone ON." both are so basic that its human decency to allow them to be able to receive a call.

But the chances are theese instances will be so rare that if you are doing 20 interviews a year you will see it once every three years. And people will tell it upfront.

But generally keeping the phone ON, it ringing and then saying "it mite have been ana emergency" dodgy most recruiters or interviewers I spoke to might not buy it.

this is just the way the world works. In a plane you have to switch off the phone. In an interview it is the same. there are certain blocks in time where you have to reconcile to not receiving a call. Unless under special conditions (like mentioned above) if you are contesting to keep the mobile ON, you may be thought of as a rebel or not a "fit"

Ram said...

I am not going to run the risk of being perceived as a rebel in this space and I have no special circumstances to speak to ;-) However, when I interview people, I will not care to use the cell phone as an excuse not to hire someone who otherwise meets my requirements since I see that as a bit too extreme.

Anonymous said...

How about we settle for this:

If we be a manager, dont fire/not hire someone just coz their phone rang and irritated us. we can surely let them know strongly that it is a bad idea. I guess if you have the power to not hire them, then you will have the power to speak harshly, put across the point and move on.

If we be an interviewee, understand that we need to put our cell phones off. If you cannot do this for a job interview, then you probably deserve being fired/rejected. Then if it happens, dont complain.

As human beings, lets just understand and respect public manners and actually use the vibrate mode/power off switch.

Hema said...


What about people like us who are forced to keep our cells on in lieu of a company calling us to give market information? Whilst i do agree ring tones can be annoying, switching off the cell at work can also be quite difficult especially when the nature of ur work demands using a mobile. Also imagine situations when you have ur pregnant wife reaching for you at office to announce she is in labour now (as in the case of my friend who called her husband to note that he had switched off his mobile at work. Finally in a desperate attempt she called me and i rushed her to hospital).

Well, every technology has its own advantages and drawbacks. Its not right to say they shud be abandoned just bcoz we get irritated with few inconveniences.

Well, as far as hiring is concerned, i would certainly not reject a recruitee just bcoz he sneaked a few mins off to attend a call which is urgent. By the way i do campus recruitment on a large scale for my organization

Hawkeye said...


"urgent calls" are always the exception. the reason why recruiters get irritated is that the cell phones are abused during company presentation on the pretext that the situation is "urgent" when it is clearly not urgennt

Anonymous said...

I still think that an interview deserves the respect and your cell should be put off unless or until it is a known emergency ... like the quoted pregnancy call! Well thats my perception of how important one should consider his/her interview.

Also, usually emergency situations arise as a surprise. I dont think all of us are so efficient that we always expect the unexpected and stay prepared. People who have lost jobs because they went to an inetrview with their cell phones on are not people who have never had a missed call/voice mail. Also, its okay to have your cell phone with you, but outside in your bag. Whenever you get a chance you can go out and see if there was an emergency call.

Nihlesh said...

It would not be wise to make such assumptions, when you are an interviewer. Just focus on the things you need to, rather than to read in between lines and attach significance to minute things like this. In short, quit playing Donald Trump.

Hawkeye said...

i have come to the conclusion that the problem with many people is they think this is a minute thing. it is not. which is why we have so many people letting the cell phone ring in an interview setting and thereby damage school reputation and ethnic/country reputation

get this! its bad. no matter what trivial argument u can come up with like emergency. its \bad. get it. the sooner the better. it is preciely people like you who i am trying to ridicule in this blog. i mean to offend people who dont take such basic etiquette serioulsly.

Hawkeye said...

ofcourse this excludes people who have to have cell phone ON as part of their work. but targets people who dont take the interview seriously by being this casual.

donald trump! huh! i used to wonder even after so many instructions ..why people dont get it! now i know why..

Sundar said...

what the fuck? no seriously. maan! you people are the limit. You guys are probably the reason why Indians are sooo stereo typed.

Is switching off the cell phone that difficult to follow? It is such a simple rule. Does this need so much vithandavatham. What stupid arguments do you guys bring up. Who the fuck faces so many emergencies that they have to keep the cell phone 'on' all the time. Who are you guys kidding? Are you arguing for the sake of arguing or do you people really keep the cell phone on. I think most of you are lying and would do what you preach.

Manners man! Thats what it is. When you are talking to me. Focus on talking to me. If you feel you need to be open to talking to someone else forget about the job. Hawkeye might put it humorously. I will just say screw you and send you packing!

> i used to wonder even after so many instructions ..why people dont get it! now i know why..

Totally agree dude! fuckin' psuedo smart ass attitude. Maybe this is what is called desi attitude

Ram said...


Please don't bring Indians into this. No one is stereotyping Indians but themselves. And from your comment, it is indeed an irony that you talk about manners.


Lots has been made out of this already. Indirectly or directly, I have sparked this discussion ;-)) So let me give my closing comments..

Having cell phones on during an interview could be perceived negatively or as disrespectful by most interviewers. So, as far as possible, for your own good so that you do not get distracted, do turn it off!

However, if you must leave it on, for whatever reason and are expecting a call, please do make sure you let your interviewers know in advance. It is all about setting expectations! I am sure they will understand your predicament and be prepared. Even in this case, keep it in vibrate mode! After having prepared so intensively for this opportunity, it is the least you can do to improve your chances!

--Ram (a la Solomon Paapaiyah!)

dallsop said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Mobile Phones site. It pretty much covers mobile phones related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

i think an interview wud last for an hourr(((dats da maxx))y cant people put da mobile on silent if not switch off..??????
is it dat difficult