I, the hiring manager, interviewed (just two of us) a candidate for a software engineer position for about 90 minutes. During the interview I told the candidate twice that he could take his mask off. First at the beginning then at about one hour later when I started to feel it was a bit weird to talk to the candidate for 1 hour and I still didn't know his face. So during that time I said specifically that can you take your mask off because I feel weird that we have talked for an hour when you still wear your mask. But he kept saying he preferred to wearing the mask.
I was satisfied with his technical skills. But I can't figure out why he refused to take his mask off. Should that raise a red flag?
For context, this is Beijing and we basically have a zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 so we don't need to worry about covid at all. Wearing masks are mandated only on public transport.
BTW, the zero-tolerance approach means my government tries very hard to eliminate even 1 case at any place. Refer to this "China's 'zero tolerance' COVID-19 policy to safeguard the country" or if you really have interest in that you may further check The New York times's article https://cn.nytimes.com/china/20210824/signs-bubble-up-that-a-chinese-city-is-growing-weary-of-lockdown/dual/ I posted a dual version of that article because the English version only is not free.
--- update ---
I decided to give him the offer. I just called him and he said he would join us right from tomorrow.
As I said in one comment that one of reasons I asked the question and I like to ask questions here is I will get answers and comments I do not expect at all.
This time is no difference. It is an interesting experience but I can't resist the urge to add this, as you guys can judge from my name I am a Beijing native so when I saw comments like "Beijing's air is so polluted that people should be wearing masks all the time" or "China is very high on compliance mentality." or "If you want an employee who will accept anything at face value and not think or question anything" (I am hiring a software engineer, why would I want to do that ?!) I just feel amused.