Is there any worse feeling than waking up on the morning of the big interview and feeling a sore throat, fever or stuffy sinus headache coming on? Although sheer willpower may get you out the door, think carefully before interviewing while you have a bad cold. You won't sound good, look healthy or think straight, and you'll likely spread germs to your interviewer and potential coworkers -- a negative they're not likely to forget.
The Martyrdom Syndrome
You may be thinking, "But the job market is so lousy, and it took me forever to get this interview!" However, don't let your dedication to the job search cloud your usual, clear-headed judgment. Even if you nail the answer to every single question, your interviewer may not be able to focus on anything but your red-rimmed eyes and stuffy nose as she wonders how soon she can grab the Purell. If this describes your health, call and reschedule the appointment, recommends Ellen Reeves, author of "Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?"
If you have a bad cold, then chances are you're taking cold medication. And although cold medications keep runny noses dry and feverish fits at bay, they're not so great for keeping your head clear or your energy high. You may be concerned that rescheduling an interview could make you look uninterested in the job, but imagine how bad yawning or rubbing your eyes would look during an interview -- especially if you're meeting new people. Instead, demonstrate your commitment to performing your best by explaining the situation to the hiring manager -- chances are, he'll insist you stay home.
Risking a Rejection
Since suffering from a bad cold means you're neither looking nor feeling your best, consider Work Coach Cafe's top 10 reasons people don't receive job offers. Reason 1? Low energy. Reason 4? Not listening well. Other negatives include giving vague answers, poor body language -- blowing your nose every three minutes qualifies -- and talking either too much or not enough. If you feel that you are at risk for any of these negatives when you're sick, call and reschedule. And although this may seem obvious, you still have to dress appropriately and arrive on time -- that means no excuses and no slipper moccasins.
Showing up for an interview when you're really sick may make you look too desperate to hire. Calling and rescheduling not only demonstrates your concern for others, it shows professionalism and confidence. The fact is, you may be desperate for work -- but you must not appear desperate. When you finally go, make an excellent impression by being prepared. Ask intelligent questions about the company, the direction it's taking and the state of the industry. Highlight the tasks you did well at your previous jobs that you think will apply there. Smile, make eye contact and don't forget to shake goodbye with your clean, non-contagious hand.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.