Q: I have had several interviews with one company. They are sending serious signs that I may receive a job offer. I have been told that they have it narrowed down to two final candidates. I was told that usually they would invite me out to dinner and get to know me better in person. One of the hiring managers suggested a “Zoom Happy Hour” where we could all logon and get to know each other in a more social way. I don’t drink alcohol and I fear that this may be a concern. How should I handle?
A: Congratulations on your progress! You must have impressive qualification to get to this point in the selection process.
Often when a company has it narrowed down to two finalists, the interviewers are asking “Who would work best with us and our team?” They are often trying to get a sense of how you communicate and interact with others.
You are smart to have a plan in place before the Zoom call. First, make sure that you dress appropriately. You should not log on with an old t-shirt on and messy hair. Have a printed copy of your resume available, in case someone asks a question related to your work history.
Prepare a plan to support your intent not to drink alcohol. Don’t feel like you need to explain why you are not drinking. Instead, if needed, be ready with a statement like: “I plan to enjoy my sparkling water with lemon tonight.” Then, move on to the next topic. There is no need to dwell on the topic or explain your choice. Those on the Zoom call, others should respect your decision not to drink. If you feel pressured, you should question whether this role is a good fit for you. If drinking is required for this role and you don’t drink, is that worth it to you? If you are in recovery, your recovery is far more important than a new job. If a work environment encourages drinking, it may not be the healthiest environment for you. I am not an expert in addiction, but I do know that being sober is far more important than landing a new job.
Finally, be gracious and thank those who attended the Zoom call. Ask them if you they need an additional information from you. Follow-up with a quick email and/or thank-you note. Good luck in hopefully closing the deal!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.