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How should one react if something happens requiring "pausing" a telephone job interview (e.g. fire alarm, someone knocking on the door) and knowing it will happen beforehand?

  1. Ask to reschedule;
  2. Tell the interviewer but avoid rescheduling;
  3. Do nothing and improvise.
  4. Change location. I've just moved here so I don't have friends/family who can help yet.
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    The test is presumably only "2-3 minutes tops" if everything's working. – Dukeling Dec 1 '17 at 19:00
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What should I do?

You have several options. You could well take the interview elsewhere, some place where you can take the interview without issues.

Now, if this is not possible, I suggest you tell them about this ASAP. A simple email explaining the situation should suffice.

They can then decide if a better hour can be scheduled or if the alarm is no issue, and you could wait for it to stop ringing (remember to mention that it will last at most 3 minutes as you said).


Edit: Some places you could try having you interview may be:

  • You local coffee store, one that has wifi and is not so noisy.
  • Some nearby library, preferably one that has rooms or cubicles where you can talk.
  • Some nearby park, even better if it has wifi (or you can use your cellphone as hotspot if needed).
  • If you could find some Coworking spaces near your home that could be a great option. Probably you may have to pay a fee for its use, but you are guaranteed that you have the resources you need.
  • You could also try some public University campus, as those places are often open and not so noisy.

Just remember to test the connection there at least once before the interview (as mentioned by Dan in comments), so you are sure it will cause no connectivity issue during the real thing.

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    Wherever you go, be sure to try it at least once before the interview - it may turn out that the place you picked has spotty wifi – Dan Pichelman Dec 1 '17 at 19:25
  • @DanPichelman really important point there – DarkCygnus Dec 1 '17 at 20:20
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    Just to let you know, I was able to find a place to do the interview, so everything went fine (interview as well, fingers crossed!). Thank you for the replies. – Natalia Dec 7 '17 at 22:08
  • Glad to hear that @Natalia :) best of luck to you on that – DarkCygnus Dec 7 '17 at 22:32
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If the test of the fire alarm is short - in my experience that means a 5 second ringing and then back to normal. If so, when the alarm goes off, look up, tell the interviewer, wait for the noise to stop, then continue as before.

If its something you have control over - ensure you are not disturbed during this time, ie. prioritise the interview over the other thing if possible, if not, reschedule the interview for when you know you will not be disturbed.

If you have no control over something random, well, too bad - improvise as best you can.

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    You do realise that during some fire alarm tests they also are testing the evacuation of the building at the same time? More often than not, fire alarm goes off, you are expected to leave the building. – Draken Dec 5 '17 at 8:12
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    @Draken those are not fire alarm tests, they are fire drills. Everywhere I've worked, fire alarms are tested regularly - commonly every week. Drills, much less so. – gbjbaanb Dec 5 '17 at 13:34
  • The audio portion of the alarm is typically very short, because it is very easy to determine whether it is working or not. What usually happens is you get a short burst of audio alarm, but the lights keep flashing throughout the whole building as every floor is being checked. – Nelson Dec 5 '17 at 16:16

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