Where did people's manners go?

16 May 2018 Shelley Wood


“Where did people's manners go?” That is a question that I found myself asking recently after a Skype interview with an interstate candidate.

Nothing usual with that in this day and age of advanced technology that allows us to interview candidates “face to face” via Skype. In fact, l have Skype interviewed numerous candidates over the years, but what made this one stand out for me was the candidate chewed gum throughout the entire interview. Now I’m not a fully paid up member of the anti-gum chewing brigade, I’ve indulged in the odd bit of gum chewing especially if l feel that my breath needs a hit of freshness before l meet with a client or candidate. But the difference between me and the candidate l interviewed is that l dispose of my gum prior to meeting with someone. After all, first impressions count.

To my horror my gum chewing candidate didn’t even attempt to conceal the fact that they were chewing gum. It was like interviewing Miss Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And if you recall, Miss Beauregard was without doubt a champion gum chewer. So, for the next 45 minutes or so l continue to interview the candidate all the while trying to look past the gum chewing and concentrate on the responses to my questions. This l have to say wasn’t an easy task as l pride myself on keeping eye contact with candidates when interviewing them be it in person or via Skype. However, like a bad reality show that you know you shouldn’t watch l couldn’t look past the gum being chewed with such vigour.

Needless to say, once l had concluded the interview and taken stock of what l had just witnessed, l regaled the team with what had just unfolded. This lead to a discussion in the office as to what point would it be ok to chew gum in a face to face interview/meeting? Never was the overriding answer. Do the same standards not apply for face to face interviews/meetings and Skype? Or am I simply too old and did I miss the memo that anything goes. Surely, it's easy to work out that watching you chew with your mouth wide open isn't a professional look and I don't think I need to play Mum and tell you to get rid of the gum. And when l think about it, what happened to the basic good manners we all learnt as children; please, thank you, good morning, goodbye, have a nice day...? it's time to reacquaint ourselves with basic good manners and behaviours. Please remember to dispose of your gum thoughtfully because it would be just my luck that l step on your carelessly discarded gum on my way to a meeting. Thanks.