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Talent Talk: Best Practices for Job Interviews in the COVID-19 Era

Company visitor wearing face mask and having temperature taken
Interviewing professionals is a process that affects almost every corner of our economy, and that is why we developed a set of guidelines for both employers and candidates to follow.

Imagine having a face-to-face interview in the COVID-19 era, where the hiring manager extends her hand to the candidate. Does he offer back a foot, perhaps bow, or just accept the handshake if he really wants the job? Maybe it’s a test?

Image: supAVADEE/Adobe Stock

As the economy begins to open back up, one of the things we are realizing is that every industry is unique in deciding how best to proceed safely. Many essential industries never shut down; other industries are reopening in stages; and we are still trying to figure out how this will play out for other parts of our society, like professional sports and college campuses.

Interviewing professionals is a process that affects almost every corner of our economy, and that is why we developed a set of guidelines for both employers and candidates to follow. Adherence to these guidelines can allow the interviewing process to continue, helping to get us back to normal — or a new normal — as safely and quickly as possible.

Here is a summary of the guidelines. You can expand on these or add others relevant to your specific situation or location. We have found that sending this to all parties involved can put everyone at ease. If you would like a copy of what we send out, just e-mail me and I will gladly send it to you.

  • Interviews should be done by phone or video-call, as far into the process as everyone is comfortable with, including final interviews, if possible.
  • In-person interviews should be limited to finalist candidates.
  • Limit the touchpoints in traveling: By car, if reasonable; direct flights, if possible.
  • Masks are recommended for all parties, and can be a requirement.
  • We recommend that the company have masks and hand sanitizer available, but, likewise, we advise the candidates also to bring their own.
  • Limit the number of individuals the candidate will meet with in person.
  • Sanitize in advance any areas where meetings will take place, such as conference room tables and chairs.
  • Maintain social distance recommendations.
  • No physical contact, such as handshakes, for example.
  • No transfer of physical items. The resumé and other items will be sent electronically in advance, and the company can print its own copies, if desired. No exchange of business cards.
  • Candidates may be subject to local requirements that apply to employees or visitors. For example, they may have their temperature taken at the entrance.
  • Either the company or the candidate should promptly notify all parties involved if they or someone in their household is ill.
  • The parties agree if an interview must be cancelled or rescheduled because of illness, it will not be held against the other party, even if it is done on short notice.

Note: Like everything else in this pandemic, things are changing quickly. This is the best advice we can offer at the time of writing. E-mail me if you would like a copy of what we send to clients and candidates. Do not let the challenge of the moment stand in your way of long-term success!

About the author

Paul Sturgeon headshotPaul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at

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