I came down with a small cold the day before a major interview. Typically in a group meeting it's recommended to minimize interpersonal contact as to not spread the cold, but that's a bit more difficult to to in a one-on-one interview.

What is proper behavior for a one-on-one meeting while one has a cold? What precautions should I take? Should I keep a few tissues in my pocket just in case?

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    ..Say "it's nice to meet you (their name), I'm (your name). I'd shake your hand but I'm a bit sick at the moment." It's not a big deal. – n_plum Aug 1 '17 at 13:11

What is proper behavior for a one-on-one meeting while one has a cold? What precautions should I take? Should I keep a few tissues in my pocket just in case?

If your at the point in the sickness cycle where you are coughing and sneezing all over the place I would suggest you call the company and reschedule. I have had this bad luck in the past and most companies will be happy you cared about their health.

If you are at the end of cycle, where you only have an occasional cough and virtually no sneezing, then go ahead with the interview. Take some day-quill or some other cold relief medication an hour or so before the interview ( assuming you are able to handle medication ) and you should be fine.

You should keep a small packages of tissues and hand sanitizer with you just in case you do sneeze or cough. Also, you may want to avoid shaking hands with the interviewers, stating that "I am at the end of a cold" as the reason.

Note: This would apply to one on one as well as group interviews.

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    I'd add - wash your hands/hand sanitizer before hand if you're going to make any physical contact. – n_plum Aug 1 '17 at 13:16
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    @n_palum - it would seem polite to do this, even if you're not ill. Clean hands leave a better impression that a dirty/sweaty handshake. – user44108 Aug 1 '17 at 13:17
  • For reference, I accepted for the second paragraph about If you are at then end of cycle. However, the choice of bold text places focus on if one is very sick. – Stevoisiak Nov 8 '17 at 19:52
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    Good advice. I would add the caution to only use a cold medicine that you have had success with in the past. During your interview isn't the time to try a medication and learn new and exciting side effects like drowsiness. – spuck Feb 24 at 15:43

It really depends on the severity of the cold. If you're just "getting over it", going with the suggestion by n_palum seems reasonable, a simple thing like telling them you'd shake their hand, but not today, that you're just getting over a cold. It informs them that you were sick, and you are managing now and are concerned for their own welfare.

If you're still actively in the middle of it hard, sneezing, coughing, difficultly talking/swallowing water, etc. I'd simply call the interviewer and tell them "hey, I hate to do this, but can we re-schedule the interview, I'm really not feeling well and don't want to give the wrong impression nor make anyone sick."

Any reasonable company/interviewer should gladly reschedule the interview for you; if not, from personal experience, I'd walk away.

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