Here it is – the day of your job interview. You’ve sorted out your lucky charms, listened to your inspirational song, visited Dress for Success for your snazzy new outfit, re-read your CV and the job description, checked our resources for common interview questions, and you’re all set to Loki your way through to the next stage of the selection process. Go you!
And then it comes. It’s a headache, a stomach ache, or a cough that you are absolutely certain is consumption. You have a rash that looks suspiciously like bubonic plague, and your voice hasn’t so much gone as been taken over by a colony of bullfrogs. Yep. It’s the lurgy. Right when you don’t need it.
So what do you do? Do you ask to reschedule the interview? Do you go in anyway, even though you look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and feel like the Mummy?
This has never happened to me (thank the Force), so I can’t speak from experience. But with cold and flu season coming around, it’s something worth bearing in mind. And, according to those who know, you do have a few options…
1) Do you look contagious (or are you, in fact contagious?)? If you do, it might be best to stay away – after all, the last thing you want is the interviewer being so terrified that you’re going to drop dead on them that they don’t listen to your brilliant and insightful answers. If you look as bad as you feel, think about rescheduling. If you look alright (e.g. you aren’t pausing every few words to hack up a lung, or sneezing enough to put a certain member of the seven dwarves out of business), then go in, apologise for being a bit under the weather, and get on with it. It’ll show your commitment, if nothing else. But try not to breathe on anyone. Actually, don’t breathe at all. It’s a job interview, you’re going to be too nervous to breathe.
2) Are you coherent? Might sound silly, but if you’re doped up to the eyeballs, your answers may not be the best. You do not want this scenario:
Interviewer: So, what do you have to offer us?
You: Llamas. I have a Llama. Also a cold. And I’m a qualified chartered accountant. Canoe club!
If you can’t string a sentence together, give the interview a skip. You’re not doing yourself, or the interviewer, any favours. I know I said in a previous blog that you should make yourself memorable, but there are limits.
If you are an incoherent mess, and you want to reschedule, try to do it as far in advance as possible. Phoning in sick on the day tends to make you look disorganised (even if it’s not your fault!) so try to give advanced warning. Let them know that you are very interested in the position, and will try to make it to the scheduled time, but would appreciate it if it would be possible to reschedule. Its common courtesy – if you’ve caught a bad virus, they may want to know what they’re risking being exposed to.
If they cannot reschedule, they may let you have a phone or a Skype interview instead – either way, it’s best to check. If they cannot manage that, at least they’ll know in advance that you may not be bringing you’re A-Game. So dose up on Lemsip, pack your Throaties, dress up warmly and maybe skip the handshake. Again, while you want them to remember you, you don’t want to be remembered for the week they spent laid up in bed after they met you and your bubonic plague.