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It’s been a wild couple of years of illness for pretty much everybody. COVID has been the ever-present topic of conversation; but nasty flus and other viruses have also run rampant. Put simply – there’s a lot going around!

The physical effects of being sick are self-evident and impossible to overlook. But what about the mental effects? This is a different story. Sure, we might acknowledge that sickness has made us a bit brain foggy, or that we’re not operating at full capacity. But how many of us consider the fact that we probably should be avoiding or delaying big decisions altogether while under the haze of illness?

You’re not thinking straight

As recruiters, we’ve seen a few examples over the past couple of years in which we’ve put forward highly qualified candidates for roles and then been surprised to receive ambivalent feedback from the hiring manager, only to later find out that the hiring manager is recovering from COVID or a flu.

It’s important not to underestimate the effect that being ill has on our cognitive function, decision-making abilities and critical thinking. To quote an article from the American Psychological Association which outlines the results of a 2012 study:

“189 participants complete[d] a series of baseline cognitive tests. Then, over the next 90 days, one-third of them returned to the lab after they had developed a cold, while the remaining healthy participants served as the control group. The participants with colds reported less alertness, more negative moods and sluggish thinking. A second round of tests showed they also had slower reaction times and were slower at learning new information and completing tasks involving verbal reasoning and semantic processing.”

This cuts both ways

The implications of this are quite significant and of course, it applies to candidates as well. If you’re feeling a little underwhelmed after applying for a role, but you’re recovering from illness, remember that your ability to make accurate judgements isn’t going to be functioning at 100%. 

There are multiple layers to this. It also stands to reason that if you’ve been unwell, you’re unlikely to have made your best impression on the hiring manager, because your mental acuity is slightly impaired. 

In these instances, if it’s a video call, at a minimum you should disclose that you’re recovering from being sick, or potentially try to reschedule the interview if possible. If it’s an in-person interview, you definitely should be attempting to reschedule, because nobody wants a sick candidate rocking up at their office.  

If you’re interviewing for your dream job, the chances are you’re going to be competing against other highly skilled candidates and the last thing you want to do is put yourself at even a minor disadvantage. Remember – it’s a competition, not a test. In a test, multiple people can pass, whereas in a competition – there is only one winner.

Whether you’re interviewing a candidate or being interviewed, don’t sell yourself short by making decisions when you’re ill.