Should I Wear a Mask When Interviewing Candidates?

The Short Answer is Yes

Whether or not the phrase “The New Normal” bites at your ears, the reality is we are in fact living in a different world than pre-pandemic. The impact has been felt in all aspects of our lives, and certainly in the job interview process. As stay-at-home orders have lifted, and offices begin to reopen, our clients and candidates are asking for advice on how interviews can be conducted safely and respectfully.

Video Interviews

Video interviewing should be the first choice if possible. It is the safest route while we still navigate some uncertainty. Candidates, as well as members of your own interview team, may still have some reservations about meeting in person. We have seen many, many clients successfully interview, hire and onboard fully remotely in the last few months.

Be prepared

When on site interviews are required, there are a number of factors employers and potential candidates should consider. Candidates may be anxious about making a good impression, so the more prepared you are in terms of what to expect, the better it will be. Have a process set for the current state of affairs, and remember, as the situations evolves, your process and procedures will need to as well.

Interviews are a two-way street. Now, maybe more than ever, how you conduct your interviews makes a big statement about your employer brand. How you, as an employer, handle this situation will say something about you as an organization and your culture.

  • Send an email to candidates prior to the interview outlining your COVID procedures
  • Offer a member of your HR team, or the hiring manager, as a resource should the candidate have questions prior to the interview
  • Prepare the interview space ensuring it has been sanitized- and have hand sanitizer available
  • Guarantee social distancing is possible complying with state regulations for prevention
  • Consider implementing screening forms – some employers have their teams take a brief questionnaire before entering the workplace and similar forms can be given to visitors


Let the candidate know what to expect. Where will the interview take place? How will they enter the building? Who will meet them? Will they be expected to sign in, or hand someone their ID?

You have the opportunity to deliver important data to a candidate considering a position with your company. You demonstrate that you are respectful of employee comfort and safety, and that you are in touch with public health advice.

Wear a mask

Wearing a mask is the safest course of action, and it demonstrates mutual respect for both parties. Employers should presume that candidates will show up wearing a mask, and should be prepared to do the same.

Avoid handshakes

Handshakes are a no right now. Feel free to address it upfront to avoid any awkwardness. “I know we can’t shake hands right now, but I am really happy to meet you.”

A Final Word

You really can’t over prepare for the interview process right now. Don’t use your first onsite interview as a time to test procedures. Plan them out. Revisit as procedures, guidelines and public health advice evolve. And remember to be flexible.

Michelle Holahan specializes in recruiting digital media, marketing and analytics talent. She is an authority on employer branding and how organizations can manage their brand throughout the talent acquisition and recruitment process.

You can find Michelle on LinkedIn or email her at