Don’t Sneeze on the Interviewer

April 17th, 2013 | Interviewing | No Comments »


The good news? You just landed an interview for the job of your dreams! The bad news? You’re sick as a dog, just in time for that dream interview.

And so you’re faced with a choice. Do you put on your best suit and load your pockets with Kleenex and hand sanitizer? Or do you make that dreaded call and ask them to reschedule?

While we at Ashley Ellis have no official medical training, we can offer a few tips to help if this scenario ever becomes a reality for you. Good luck!

Are you severely contagious?

While even the slightest of colds is always contagious, spreading your germs can generally be avoided with a little commonsense. But if you’re sick with something that can be spread by simply breathing, it’s safe to say that you should definitely reschedule that interview. Showing up at this point will reflect badly on your judgement when everyone you come into contact with calls in sick the next day.

Do you look gross?

A dripping nose, swollen eyes, explosive sneezing, and profuse sweating aren’t going to do you any favors. Severe physical symptoms look more contagious, even if they’re not, and are going to be distracting to both you and your interviewer. Do what you can to eliminate any of these symptoms, from hot showers and cleverly applied make up to extra strength cold meds and mass amounts of water and soup. If nothing helps, consider rescheduling.

Are you there mentally?

While those extra strength cold meds may reduce your puffy eyes and runny nose, they may have the unfortunate side-effect of drowsiness or confusion. And if your cold is causing you to lose sleep, you’re probably not feeling your best. Plan ahead to try to get extra sleep, and avoid any nighttime medications. While nothing you do may return you to 100%, determine at what level you are capable of pulling it together and making it through an interview coherently.

Don’t look for sympathy

If your cold symptoms aren’t gross enough to keep you home but are still obviously present, it’s generally okay to mention to the interviewer that you’re feeling “under the weather.” Be matter-of-fact about it, and don’t look for sympathy. If, amazingly, you look 100% presentable and your sickness is only obvious to you and you alone, you’re probably better off not mentioning it at all.

Be realistic

Although we have recommended that you try to reschedule your interview in certain scenarios, be prepared that this may reflect just as negatively on you as it might have if you had showed up anyway. Ultimately, it depends on the employer, and while most are understanding, others may not be.

Our ultimate advice is to use your best judgment and take the necessary steps to feel (and look) better. Oh, and don’t sneeze on the interviewer. Please.

By Clare Saumell

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