“I wear a mask. And that mask, it’s not to hide who I am, but to create what I am.” – Batman
Superheroes wear masks. That’s what I told my son as we walked to his first day of kindergarten. We had been preparing by wearing the mask around the house. But, since he hadn’t been inside a building other than our house in several months, he didn’t have much experience.
Us adults? We’ve all had plenty of time to get used to wearing masks. However, we might not have thought about how they might impact our job search— especially when it comes to in-person interviews.
It’s important to take mask-wearing seriously. And even more important to do so in an interview, since you may be in close contact. Keep these tips in mind:
- Wear the mask properly. A properly worn mask must be worn over the nose and over the chin. Anything below the nose and above the chin puts you and the interviewer at risk. It is important to keep in mind that you are wearing a mask for your protection and for the employers’ protection. If you are both wearing masks, the chance of spreading infection decreases significantly.
- Practice. Make sure you can be heard clearly and that you can articulate through the mask without sounding muffled. Practice at home in front of a mirror, record yourself, or practice by speaking to someone directly while wearing it. While half of your face is covered, be sure to practice an appropriate tone of voice, projection, and articulation.
- Notice your non-verbal cues. Facial expressions are harder to read. Consider the story your eyes are telling. Worry less about using hand gestures to help get your point across. Be mindful of your overall body language.
- Safety first. Safety should always be the first priority when considering what mask to wear to an interview. Coordinating with your interview attire may be of interest, but is secondary to function. Refer to CDC guidance on appropriate masks types and usage.
- Plan your specific mask choice. Don’t just grab a mask last-minute. Consider your options. Is your mask visibly clean? Do you want it to match your interview outfit? Do you want it to make a creative/artistic statement? Will your political or social affiliation, sarcastic comment, etc. help or hurt you in this particular situation? Answers to these vary by individual— think critically ahead of time and go with your gut. We recommend keeping things professional at all times.
“The mask is not for you, it’s to protect the people you care about.” (Batman, of course.)
In-person interviewing in the time of COVID-19 takes extra planning and precautions. Keep mindful that the interviewers themselves are also relatively new to this, and everyone is likely to give grace regarding the slightly awkward realities that inevitably happen.