I have a job interview. I'm getting sick. Help!
September 28, 2012 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I have a very important job interview on Monday. I feel like I'm getting sick (sore throat, warm forehead, etc). If I'm sick on Monday, do I call and ask to re-schedule or soldier through?

I don't want to seem like a flake, but I also don't want to infect anyone else. This is a very important interview. Help!
posted by Fister Roboto to Human Relations (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Re schedule You not at your best decreases the odds of getting the gig, so it's worth the risk of them dinging you for flakiness. Also anyplace that doesn't understand people get sick is probably not a place you want to work anyway.
posted by JPD at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2012

I'd call today and tell them you have the flu and don't want to get anyone else sick. That gives them time to reschedule you and makes you look sincere and thoughtful.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2012 [14 favorites]

Unless you A) look like shit or B) can't stop coughing/sneezing/sniffling, you should go.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

Go to bed now!

Drink liquids, sleep, take aspirin.

Unless you are at death's door, go to the interview. Use lots of hand sanitizer. At the optimal time, take all of your meds that make you feel human, Dayquil, etc, so that you are as chipper, up and feeling as well as possible during the interview.

You can die when you get home.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:56 AM on September 28, 2012 [15 favorites]

In your shoes I would medicate myself and show up. If you truly look like death warmed over, you can 'apologize' for your illness and explain that the opportunity is important to you, but you understand if they'd prefer to reschedule. Slam some C and zinc and get a lot of rest - Good Luck!!!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:56 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would call and ask if we could FaceTime the interview or something similar, due to not wanting to spread my gross germs all over the office. Otherwise I'd ask to reschedule.
posted by elizardbits at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with the view that you should call today. You could tell them that you could tough it out but you are concerned about getting them sick. Ideally they will allow you to tell them tonight or on the weekend whether you indeed got sick. I think it's disrespectful in all situations, not just job interviews, to knowingly put other people at increased risk of getting sick. If I were them, I would think you have poor judgment if you arrive for a job interview sick. That would be a big risk for you to take.
posted by Dansaman at 9:58 AM on September 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would call today too. Re-scheduling should not be a big deal for any reasonable company, but doing it like an hour before could ruffle feathers.

Anecdote: Last time I had an interview, I was driving home the night before when a jerk rear-ended me, totaling my car. I wasn't hurt and I could have taken a cab to the interview the next morning, but b/c
a) I felt very shaken up and
b) I lost that evening to do my pre-interview prep

I called and rescheduled. Everyone understood, I went a few days later and got the job.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2012

Response by poster: They did offer Skype (presumably video) as an option, but I feel like I can make a much better case for myself in person. I even bought a new suit!

The thing is that while I feel kind of sick now, I'm not sure how I'll feel on Monday. I could feel fine or even worse.

posted by Fister Roboto at 10:08 AM on September 28, 2012

I'm of the "better safe than sorry" inclination. I call, let them know that you've caught a bug and while you may be feeling okay monday you really don't want to risk getting them ill as well. I'd be surprised if they got their knickers in a twist over it. I'd actually be surprised if they didn't thank you

If you're sick for your interview and you don't tell them that you are, and then you show up and look kinda sick they are possibly going to assume
a) that you are hungover OR
b) that you are sick and are risking getting them all sick, you jerk.

Plus, if you're sick for your interview you are much likely to:
a) give a incomplete answer to a question, making you seem unprepared
b) fumble over your words
c) seem disinterested (because you're sick and tired and feel all kinds of blah)

Yes, these are all hypotheticals, and yes you may be fine on monday, but if you aren't you're making a major gamble, especially if this is a job you really want.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:17 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Absolutely take the Skype option if you think you might feel up to it. I’m astounded by anyone in this thread who thinks it’s a good idea to even look sick at an important interview.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:19 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

How bad do you look? If you're well enough to walk without being uncomfortable and your voice is relatively clear, I'd suck it up and go: I'd hate to bet my future on some HR rep being understanding. Besides, why risk looking difficult for nothing? On the off-chance anyone notices, they're likely to respect you for making the effort.

Sleep, vitamins, hot lemon tea and a warm saltwater gargle should help in the meantime. Good luck!
posted by doreur at 10:20 AM on September 28, 2012

PuppetMcSockerson: if you aren't you're making a major gamble, especially if this is a job you really want

But you are still gambling if you call in sick, you are just gambling on the fact that they won't hold rescheduling against you. Maybe it depends a little on the kind of company/industry? Can you elaborate a little, Fister Roboto?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bring the situation to their attention. Tell them you really want the job but are worried about infecting the office. Tell them you will happily keep your appointment regardless, but let them know that you will equally happily do Skype or reschedule if they prefer.
posted by rocketpup at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2012

I would wait and call Monday if you still don't feel up to it. I think calling in sick 2+ days in advance is a bigger red flag than waking up sick Monday morning and calling in then. It could easily be a 24-48 hour virus and you might be fine Monday morning.
posted by COD at 10:32 AM on September 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

COD: I think calling in sick 2+ days in advance is a bigger red flag than waking up sick Monday morning and calling in then

Very good point.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:34 AM on September 28, 2012

I would never, ever cancel an interview with a cold. I mean, of course, we have no idea how they'll react. Somewhere between "How thoughtful and foresightful this wonderful person is, we must make him CEO!" and "What a fucking lame-o, burn his resume," I am assuming.

Listen. Overdose on vitamins, take to your bed, hydrate like a mofo. TREAT YOURSELF RIGHT. Seriously on the vitamins. On Monday, if you are in the hospital or barfing continuously, you can CONSIDER canceling.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:37 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wait to see how you feel on Monday, and fall back to Skype rather than rescheduling if it works for them. It would show you're concerned about their time as well as their health.
posted by rhizome at 10:39 AM on September 28, 2012

The bottom line is you can overthink this as much as you want and end up at whatever conclusion you'd like to end up at. In that case, you should do whatever you feel gives you the best shot at landing the job, because you can't accurately predict their reaction one way or another.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:39 AM on September 28, 2012

I would go. I think rescheduling three days in advance is flaky; who really knows how they're going to feel in three days time? I would appreciate the effort if someone came despite being under the weather.
posted by deadweightloss at 10:47 AM on September 28, 2012

Response by poster: The position is for a public library.

I think I'm going to rest up and see how I feel tomorrow. Hopefully better. I tend to be the type of person that pushes through things, so unless I'm really noticeably sick and I think it will affect my interview on Sunday, I'm going to go for it. If I am sick on Sunday, I'll call and re-schedule.

So, basically I'm going to combine most/all of the advice given above. Thanks so much for the feedback.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:53 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you have any feel for the office culture and the expectations in the field?

I know my field can be very "suck it up and work" about illness, and if you called and asked to be rescheduled because of a cold, and the person scheduling it mentioned it to one of my bosses, it would be a major strike against you. Personally, I'd rather not get infected, but the rest of the company (and the broader field) has a massive "Git Er Done" thing going on.

But in other fields, this is totally different. What have previous workplaces been like on this issue?
posted by pie ninja at 10:53 AM on September 28, 2012

If someone came to me for an interview that obviously had an illness that was probably contagious, I would be pissed as hell that they did that to me and I damn well wouldn't hire them. Call today, let them know what the situation is and ask to reschedule if possible. At least they then have the opportunity to protect themselves and their staff from your plague, if they choose to have you come in anyway, it is on them and you don't look like a thoughtless individual.
posted by HuronBob at 10:55 AM on September 28, 2012

Best answer: My company has been doing a lot of interviewing lately, and a response like this would make me and my guys respect you:
Hi, [contact person]

I'm really looking forward to our interview on Monday, but I'm afraid I'm coming down with the flu. I would be happy to check back in with you on the weekend in case it passes, but I would hate to come in contagious and sick and risk infecting your staff.

If it's not too much trouble, would it be possible to reschedule our interview until later in the week? I'm excited to discuss [specific job opportunity] with you all. If rescheduling isn't possible, I can still make it in on Monday barring an emergency health situation, but I think it may be in all of our best interests to postpone. Please let me know if this is something we can do.

Thank you so much, and I really apologize for the inconvenience.
-Fister Roboto
posted by phunniemee at 10:58 AM on September 28, 2012 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Working at a public library is a job where you calling in sick will affect your coworkers (people would have to shoulder your work/a substitute would have to be called in, etc.), so err on the side of toughing your way through it. You really don't want to give the impression that you'll inconvenience your future coworkers for every little sniffle.
posted by MsMolly at 11:16 AM on September 28, 2012

Public library = children. Do not go there sick.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:46 AM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Reschedule! I believe I lost a job I really should have gotten because I showed up really sick. Lots of people would consider it very rude/poor judgment to show up sick - pregnant women, people with babies at home, people who just don't like germs ...
posted by yarly at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

This doesn't answer your question, but I can't suggest enough that vitamin C is your best friend right now. Go to the store and buy a bottle if you don't have some already and start pounding them now. My colds always start with a sore throat and a few weeks ago I got one. I can't afford to get sick right now, so I immediately doubled up on my C intake (taking 3 pills in the morning, 3 at night, total of 6,000mg). Never got worse than the sore throat and was back to normal in about four days. Big relief!

I think it's still good to let them know you might be coming down with something, like what phunniemee said, and taking proactive measures to prevent getting worse can only be a good thing.
posted by E3 at 4:26 PM on September 28, 2012

I soldiered on once and would never do it again. It was clear they all wished I wasn't there as I sniffed and coughed. I felt the need to continuously apologize. Plus, I was way off my game and did a horrible interview.

If they're on a super tight deadline to fill the job, it could be impossible to reschedule before they need to make a decision but that would still be the better option.
posted by thebriguy72 at 6:51 PM on September 28, 2012

Yeah, public library means interacting with a large number of patrons from all walks of life, many of whom have not acquired a flu vaccine and whose families would really suffer if they had to miss even a few days of work. I don't think "soldiering on" with a virus is responsible as a public librarian. And if I even suspected that an interviewee got me sick , I would hold it against that person. I think phunimee's response is a good one.
posted by Lieber Frau at 12:05 AM on September 29, 2012

I think calling in sick 2+ days in advance is a bigger red flag than waking up sick Monday morning and calling in then.

I don't understand this point of view. Isn't it better to communicate about a possible situation in advance than at the last minute? Why is that a red flag? If someone is trying to shirk responsibility or be unreliable, they don't do it in advance.

Just write an email like phunniemie's, emphasizing that you are hoping to make the interview, will do your best, and will keep in touch regarding your health status.
posted by bearette at 12:24 AM on September 29, 2012

I like phunnieme's solution best. I have caught colds from co-workers with whom I've met even briefly. Believe me, if you're working in a place where calling in sick would put undue stress on your coworkers, they won't be too kindly disposed toward a mere job candidate who came in and infected them, especially when the job involves contact with the public/handling books for public circulation.

Good luck, and I hope you feel better soon.
posted by tully_monster at 3:51 AM on September 29, 2012

Response by poster: Update: I felt fine by Monday and had a (I think) pretty good interview. I even got to wear my new suit. Thanks for the advice though, in case it's relevant for me (or others) in the future.
posted by Fister Roboto at 4:08 PM on October 2, 2012

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