Navigating the Interview Process Amidst Coronavirus Concerns

Coronavirus. It seems like everywhere we turn there is new information being shared about the COVID-19 strain that is currently infecting individuals across the world. And with new information emerging daily, you may find yourself consistently wondering what future impacts this could have on you. Are classes going to be suspended? Will upcoming travel plans be cancelled? Should you still go to the large concert or sporting event you’ve been planning to attend? But what about upcoming job/internship interviews that may be scheduled? Here are a few tips to help you navigate the interview process during a public health situation.

1.) Consider Virtual Options

Amid the growing health concerns, some companies are proactively choosing to conduct all interviews virtually- especially those in close proximity to infected areas or that require out-of-state travel. If you are scheduled for an in-person interview and have concerns about attending, try reaching out to the interview coordinator and asking if a virtual format (such as phone or web-conference) can be considered instead. If you are new to the idea of virtual interviewing and looking for additional tips or guidance on how it may differ from an in-person interview, check out our vast selection of virtual interviewing related videos at Career On Demand or our virtual interviewing information sheet. The Center for Career Development also offers rooms on a first-come, first-served basis that students can utilize for conducting interviews. If you are interested in reserving space for an upcoming virtual interview please e-mail recruiting@uconn.edu to check availability.

2.) Avoid Shaking Hands

We’ve all been told at some point that one of the keys to a successful first impression during an interview is a strong handshake. But during cold and flu season, and especially during public health situations, this rule of interview etiquette is one that can be overlooked. A large majority of companies and institutions have already implemented a “no handshaking policy” but as general practice goes, this is something that is often easier said than remembered. If you find yourself in a situation where an individual extends their hand in welcome, feel free to politely decline the gesture and offer an explanation as to why. Thanking them for the warm welcome and acknowledging your desire to not shake hands will still demonstrate you are pleased to meet their acquaintance and are excited for the opportunity but also focused on protecting the health of all involved.

3.) Prepare Necessary Supplies

Not all interviews will have an opportunity to be conducted virtually, and in some instances, you may forget (or choose not) to decline the handshake; therefore it is important that you bring any personal supplies you think are necessary to protect your health and those around you. Now, I’m not recommending you bring your super expensive air-purifier or over-exaggerated sneeze shield 3000 to the interview, but a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and small package of disposable tissues are perfectly acceptable. Cleansing your hands with hand sanitizer after touching surfaces in public places and covering your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze (and subsequently reapplying hand sanitizer) will help to reduce the spread of germs and allow you to proceed with the interview as scheduled!

4.) When in Doubt, Cancel or Reschedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has an extensive amount of information about symptoms of the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are experiencing symptoms, or know you have come in contact with individuals who are symptomatic, do not force yourself to attend the interview. Instead, heed the CDC’s recommendations to “restrict activities outside your home” and contact your interview coordinator to reschedule. During the conversation remember to demonstrate your disappointment in rescheduling but still express your enthusiasm for the position. Being open and honest with the interview team will not only lead them to respect your decision to help mitigate the spread of germs but also provide them with a glimpse into your ethical decision making practices.

Don’t have an upcoming interview but still concerned how COVID-19 will impact your job search strategy? The Center for Career Development has lots of ways we can help! Start by visiting our events calendar for a full listing of upcoming career-related events taking place across all UConn campuses and online. You can also browse through the over 12,000 job/internship opportunities currently available in Handshake. And don’t forget, you can always meet with a career coach to discuss ways of utilizing additional online resources to keep the job search momentum moving. And yes, we offer virtual coaching appointments!

By Kristen Soprano
Kristen Soprano Career Consultant Kristen Soprano