Imagine that you have a job interview scheduled for tomorrow, and suddenly you feel ill. No, it’s not jitters over the prospect of facing a hostile interviewer—you have a virus, and it’s making life extremely unpleasant.
Confronted with this sort of biological conundrum, a job candidate might feel the need to demonstrate their determination by swallowing down as much cough syrup as possible and heading off to the interview, sneezing and coughing but otherwise upright.
This is not always the greatest idea. No matter how brilliant your responses to interview questions, or ability to work through theoretical problems on a whiteboard, doing so with red eyes and a perpetually runny nose will not win you any points with your prospective employer. In fact, it could dissuade them from hiring you.
If you’re really sick, call in sick. Apologize, acknowledge that rescheduling is a pain for everyone involved, and ask for a new date and time.
If this is your second (or third) interview with a company, there’s an excellent chance that your primary contact (whether an internal recruiter or hiring manager) will understand your request to delay the interview a day or two. These things happen. Plus if you’ve already visited the firm a number of times, you’ve built up some equity with the people there.
But whether it’s your first or fifth interview, if the company reacts badly to your request to reschedule the meeting due to sickness, you can take that as a potential sign of a bad workplace. “Illness is unacceptable!” is not a response that bodes well for future employee-boss relations, to put it mildly.
Just remember that, if you do reschedule, there’s added pressure for you to perform your best when the interview rolls around. Make sure to review our tips and tricks for effective interviews, and, if you’re trying out for a position that involves a lot of technical work, get ready for a possible whiteboard challenge. But most of all, make sure you walk into the interview feeling healthy, energetic, and ready to do your best.