Now that more and more states are reopening, job seekers might find themselves in the position of having to decide how to approach an in-person job interview. Should you wear a mask? Should you avoid shaking hands? Should you attempt to stay at least 1.5 metres away from your interviewers?
If you do end up doing an in-person interview, wear a mask.
If you show up without a mask while your interviewer is wearing one, you’re going to look inconsiderate and out of touch with public-health advice.
If you show up with a mask and no one else is wearing one … I hope you’ll keep the mask on. I realise you might feel pressure to remove it in the context of a job interview, but keeping it on is the right thing to do for public health and for the health of the people around you, whether they recognise that or not. That’s especially true if you’re in an enclosed space (which is likely if you’re interviewing in an office).
There are two big reasons to practice good public-health procedures during a job interview. The first reason is, of course, to protect yourself and the people around you. You don’t want to be the person who inadvertently brings the coronavirus into a new workplace, nor do you want to be the person who get sick after shaking hands with a group of interviewers.
The second reason to wear your mask, eschew handshakes and sit at the far end of the conference table is to see how your prospective employers respond. As Green reminds us, a manager who responds negatively to your mask or your polite refusal to shake hands is a huge red flag. That’s the kind of manager who doesn’t value employee health and wellness—whether in an extreme situation like a pandemic or in something as basic as work-life balance.
If your interviewers not only respond positively to your public-health measures but also offer detailed accounts of how they are working to keep their teams, clients and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s a green flag. (If they offer to do a video interview in lieu of an in-person interview, that flag could be even greener.) At this point in the coronavirus timeline, we’re all trying to balance the various levels of risk associated with visiting friends and family, returning to work and, for many of us, protesting—so learning how a potential employer is handling this balance will give you a lot of information into whether this job is the right one for you.
Just remember to keep your mask above your nose and below your chin, so you can make the best first impression possible—and if you’ve got a mask that coordinates well with your interview outfit, that’s even better.