Dear Abby: I’m aghast as applicants keep phones on during job interview

Employer unsettled by the candidates using their phones during the conversation.

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DEAR ABBY: I recently served on a committee to hire a professional-level staff member for my organization. Eligible candidates are required to possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. We received more than 30 applications and decided to bring in three candidates for interviews who looked great on paper.

One of them had his phone on and it repeatedly buzzed with incoming messages during the interview. Another, when asked if she had any questions for us, pulled her phone out of her jacket pocket and started swiping the screen saying that she had some questions on her phone. Abby, she had a notepad open in front of her, so why didn’t she have her questions written on that?

I found it unsettling that these two candidates couldn’t disengage from their phones long enough to participate in a job interview! It made me wonder if they could disconnect from their cellphones long enough to do the job, if hired. Am I showing my age — and value system — in thinking that a job interview should be a phone-free zone? What’s the etiquette in such a situation? — UNIMPRESSED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNIMPRESSED: The “etiquette” is that a job candidate should be prepared before a job interview. Cellphones should be turned off or put on silent mode during the interview so they won’t cause a distraction. Make sure the applicant understands this BEFORE the interview begins. As for Candidate Two, ideally she should have written her questions on the notepad she brought with her, although members of her generation often put things like that on their cellphones. A younger interviewer may have let this slide. You didn’t. Next candidate!

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my boyfriend for three years, and it has been great. However, he has serious anger issues that affect our relationship sometimes. It started with small arguments here and there. But as our relationship progressed, so did his mood swings and anger.

He has never hit me. Lately, though, his anger has gotten worse, and he says cruel things to me that he later apologizes for. During our arguments, he never listens to what I have to say. When the argument is over and I wait a couple days to explain how he hurt my feelings, he tells me I’m overly sensitive and to leave the past in the past.

During our last argument, he asked me how to seek professional help. How can I help him? Am I dumb staying with someone like this? Although I love him, I don’t know how long I can last with someone who is so angry all the time. — BROKEN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR BROKEN: Ask your doctor or your insurance provider for a referral to a psychologist who can either help your boyfriend or get him into an anger-management class. He definitely needs professional help, and it’s good that he knows it.

Although my knee-jerk impulse would be to tell you to end the relationship, that he is self-aware enough to know he needs help makes me inclined to suggest you stick with him a little longer and see how effective the therapy is. But please know that verbal abusers often become physical abusers if they don’t receive help, and the verbal bashing is terrible for your self-esteem.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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