Laptop or No Laptop? A Case for Change…ummm…..Maybe!

I am coordinating and facilitating consultant interviews for my client and per that client’s instructions, put together “interviewing packets” for the panel. These “packets” consisted of the interview schedule, evaluation scorecard, the interview questions (1 copy for each candidate for notes), and copies of the candidate’s resumes.

My relationship with one the managers on the panel is a bit…shall I say…passive aggressively contentious. If I say “black” – you got it – he’ll say “white” (I swear just to get a reaction). However, this is one situation where I can say with utmost confidence, “It’s not only me!” Many report this sort of interaction with this individual. (Are we a bit defensive this morning Stevie???)

Okay, back to the issue at hand. When I handed this individual their packet, I was asked to send “soft copies” so that they could take notes on their laptop. I had a visceral reaction akin to a catastrophic response to this request. Now, it’s a “business rule” for this part of the organization to be “old school”; that is, take notes using some sort of writing instrument and paper. It was thought this leads to a more relaxed, personable atmosphere that lends itself to eye contact, reading body language, and being more “present.” My visceral reaction was further fueled when this individual suggested I step in to the 20th, let alone 21st century and also be more caring toward the environment. I did snap back (yes “snap”) that we recycled all paper artifacts after the interview.

Meandering back to my desk, I had to wonder why my reaction was so strong in nature. Was it justified or am I, the queen of organizational change (yes – that’s what I dub myself although I prefer the terms “goddess” or “empress”), steeped in my ways and have erroneously convinced myself that my way is best? Have I conjured up reasons not to change? Am I a RESISTOR?

Then I started to get all intellectual and dove into root causes for resistance. Rick Maurer wrote a great book entitled, “Beyond the Wall of Resistance.” Prior to reading his book, I’d read everything I could regarding resistance to change as I find the subject fascinating (you’re right – I don’t get out much). Although I initially thought that the author was being too superficial, in the end I had to agree that his contention hit the mark! Rick boiled down root causes of resistance to three simple attitudes:

  1. I don’t like it!

  2. I don’t get it!

  3. I don’t like you!

On further reflection, I concluded that I could answer “yes” to all three categories. SO, being a researcher at heart, I went to LinkedIn and even paid to boost a post on Facebook to see what you all would say regarding use of a laptop in the interview.

The results are in (virtual drumroll); envelope please! And, the winner is…………………

There is no clear-cut winner statistically speaking but on sheer tally alone, “no laptop” wins by a hair! Those who voted for the laptop cited efficiency and being more “green.” Some respondents stated that if there is only one person on the panel with a laptop it wouldn’t bother them as an interviewee – but, if there was more than one person, it would. Most respondents citing “no laptop” offered reasons including, “notes on paper are more conversational” or “it’s more relaxed.” One person even asked that they not be judged for their “old school” preferences. Many respondents said that just because you take notes on a laptop doesn’t mean that you avoid eye contact and are less interactive with the candidate. Agreed – but not true for this individual for the most part.

Then I asked myself, “Do preferences differ depending upon whether or not the person is introverted or extroverted?” Are introverts more apt to prefer the laptop? How would an extroverted interviewee respond to a slew of introverted interviewers? How about vice versa? How about a mix? *sigh* Well, until I get a grant to fund my research I will continue to wonder. Deep thinking on a Friday morning! LOL!

In the end, I told this individual that they could use their laptop after they conceded that they would comply with our organization’s “archaic” ways but would welcome a future conversation regarding the merit of using a laptop vs. paper. Since I “won”, why did I tell them they could use their laptop (as I know you all are wondering)? Basically, my logic goes something like this: The candidate that is hired will need to interact with this individual day in and day out. It will actually be a part of my evaluation during the interview as to how they communicate with someone who is interacting with their electronics. Sort of like a first date when one party spends their time on their phone.

Final word: I heard something on morning drive radio that scared the heck out of me. People are now paying for “cuddlists!” What is that you ask? A “cuddliest” is sort of an old-fashioned escort with a “no sex” rule. Folks are so lonely that they pay for someone to talk with them without looking at their phone and perhaps cuddle so they feel noticed, accepted, and valued. What’s the #1 way to help people feel significant? LISTEN TO THEM! We shouldn’t have to pay to be really listened to. If you’re going to use a laptop, do so sparingly and be present to the interviewee.

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