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Should a Candidate Use an iPad in an Interview?

By Kim Marshall, TIE Columnist

The article: “iPads and Interviews: Why the Two Don’t Mix” by Shelly Weiss Storbeck in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 January 2013 (LIX 18, p. D25)
In this Chronicle of Higher Education article, search consultant Shelly Weiss Storbeck describes how a candidate made heavy use of his iPad and detachable keyboard throughout an interview, taking notes and scrolling up and down as various topics came up. “Fifteen minutes into the interview,” says Ms. Storbeck, “and I knew this person had lost the entire committee.”
How come? “First, if you are busily typing on a keyboard, you are unable to make meaningful eye contact with the committee members,” says Ms. Storbeck. “Most of our candidate’s focus—and thus, the committee’s—was on the machinery, not the candidate. Unfortunately for him, personal connection was never made.”
Second, having your head in an iPad makes you look like a college sophomore. “The need to ‘take notes’ completely disguised our candidate’s mastery of various topics,” she says.
Third, the candidate’s equipment took up space and the keyboard noise constantly distracted the committee from focusing on what he was saying.
Finally, carrying lots of stuff (iPad, case, keyboard, notebook, Starbucks coffee) keeps a candidate from shaking hands and interacting with committee members before and after the interview.
So how are you supposed to keep track of questions and record important learnings from an interview? Bring a pad of paper and a pen in case they are not supplied, advises Ms. Storbeck. Jot a few notes during the interview and more afterward. E-mail the committee chairperson if you have additional questions.
“Remember,” she says, “the most important part of the interview is not what details you retain from it, but rather the impression you leave with the search committee.” Did you dress for the part? Did you do your homework? Were you knowledgeable about committee members? Did you answer questions succinctly and directly? Did you admit when you did not know something? Did you reveal a sense of humor?
In short, Ms. Storbeck concludes, “Dazzle them with your preparation, intellect, presence, knowledge of the field, vision for the future of the organization, clarity of expression, interpersonal skills, and sense of humor. And leave the iPad in your briefcase.”
Summary reprinted from Marshall Memo 468, 14 January 2013.

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