How to nail a job interview with a face mask on

We are living in, let’s say ‘interesting’ times!

Video and telephone job interviews are definitely the most common forms of interview at the moment due to all the safety precautions put into place. But there are still face-to-face interviews – and they present unique challenges…

Interviews have traditionally been held in meeting rooms or in the hiring manager’s office. But traditions have been discarded rapidly in 2020. Sitting in a small air-tight room now seems fraught with risk.

We know of one firm that takes full advantage of its roof terrace, hosting interviews complete with wonderful views of Brighton. However outside terraces will be less appealing as the autumnal temperatures drop.

Indoor face-to-face interviews are still very much the norm and continuing, which could mean wearing a face mask for this very important meeting. Can you really sell yourself when half your face is covered and you are struggling to be heard?

Of course, you can and here is how:

Which face mask?

This might not matter for all jobs, but in some instances, the style of face mask you wear will give the interviewer an indication of whether you have researched the role. For example, if the company has a particular focus on being eco friendly, wearing a fabric reusable mask will show you are on board with their messaging.

Verbal greeting 

Gone are the days of the handshake, the high five or the fist bump (only one of them is really appropriate for an interview anyway!).

Unfortunately because of the current situation, we can no longer make that initial connection with the interviewer through physical contact. However, we can still greet a person verbally and make light of the situation we are in by saying something like, ‘It’s a shame we can’t shake hands right now, but it’s great to meet you in person.’


Try and deal with any pre-interview jitters by doing something calming before you go. Listen to a mindfulness app, do some stretching or go over any notes you have, whatever will help you keep your cool. If you let your nerves get the better of you and stumble over your words, wearing a face-covering will make it even harder for you to be understood.

Eyes and Body Language 

Body language and facial expressions are key in a face-to-face interview and are accurate indicators of emotions. When half of your face is covered then you are possibly already at a disadvantage.

Eye contact is a key indicator of interest and emotions, so remember to stay engaged. Don’t let your eyes glaze over – try to maintain eye contact, but don’t end up staring them out either! We have some tips on body language here.


Wearing a face covering doesn’t necessarily reduce your articulation,  however, with the varying amount of homemade, cloth and fabric face masks being used, some of them might muffle the sound of your voice. Either way, it would benefit you to do some articulation exercises before your interview to make sure you’ll be understood. Here are just a few suggestions to help you out:

  • Repeat ‘Red lorry, yellow lorry’  over and over
  • The same as above, ‘Unique New York, New York’s unique’
  • Chewing gum (whether real or imaginary) all-around your mouth helps you loosen your jaw muscles

Slow down 

This is good advice for any interview, but especially when your mouth is covered, it means you limit your chances of having to repeat yourself and also gives you time to formulate your answer properly!

The rest should be like any other interview and you should prepare for it in the same way. 

Alex Louise is a member of the Operations team at Harvey John.

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