Salisbury Press

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Respectfully Yours: Job interview protocol in the time of coronavirus

Saturday, June 27, 2020 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press in Focus

Dear Jacquelyn,

I am actively pursuing job opportunities. I was asked to come in for an on-site interview. What does job interview etiquette look like in during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic era? Do I shake hands? Do I wear a mask to the interview? How does all this work now?

Dear Reader,

The hiring process is changing as we speak and there’s no standard process anymore.

Some areas are loosening restrictions and in-person job interviews may be back on the agenda. Remote interviews are still common nationwide, but some interviews are still in person.

This particular interview calls for an in-person and on-site interview. The employer wants to meet you in person before extending the job offer, and they should be able to tell you about safety protocols prior to your interview.

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask ahead of time about COVID-19 related precautions so that you’re not caught off guard.

When it’s time for the in-person interview, absolutely wear a mask. If you show up without a mask and your interviewer is wearing one, you’re going to look inconsiderate. If you show up with a mask and the interviewer is not wearing a mask, you might feel pressure to remove it but keeping it on is the right thing to do for the health of the people around you. This is especially true if you’re in an enclosed space.

Handshakes are out for now. When you meet your interviewer, simply say, “I know we can’t shake hands, but it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

When you interview for a job, you learn a lot about what the company is like. Don’t just focus on impressing the interviewer. Come prepared with questions.

You will learn a lot about how seriously the company takes employee safety and comfort. Getting the answers to your safety questions at the interview will help you be more informed about your safety as a job-seeker and employee.

Whether in person or online, remain professional at all times. Stay positive and show that you’re the best person for the job. Good luck!

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Jacquelyn Youst