The pandemic affected us all in various ways. Regardless of where we live, our income, our job, and who we are, it managed to touch us all. While some of us have inched back to a semblance of a "normal" life, others have not. However, the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and businesses will persist, possibly forever.
The pandemic has notably changed how companies recruit and onboard new talent. We've seen the rise of remote working, geographically dispersed teams, virtual interviews, improved collaboration tools and technology, increased employee demands around work/life balance, and evolution in HR policies regarding flexible work and benefits. Some of these changes may start to fade over the coming months. However, research from LinkedIn shows that virtual interviews are likely to stay. Most notably, there is a general comfort level with videoconferencing technology and an appreciation for how much time and money a virtual hiring process saves.
Along with a move to virtual interviews comes a shift in the typical interview questions. Now employers aren't only interested in a candidate's knowledge, skills, and experience, but they're also interested in how a candidate adapted and evolved during COVID-19. These pandemic-inspired questions can help identify a candidate's working style and/or personality traits when dealing with change and uncertainty. For example, if someone was able to continue to work under pressure in the face of uncertainty, it can demonstrate resilience, adaptability, and initiative. All traits that will likely help them fulfill their job responsibilities!
Whether you're prepping for a virtual interview or you're doing the hiring, below are some of our favorite questions for gauging a candidate's flexibility, adaptability, and resilience over the past two pandemic-filled years.
How are you adjusting to post-COVID life? Keep things light, general, and on the positive side. The interviewer is probably just looking to get a sense of your overall outlook and what you appreciate in your post-pandemic life.
How did you adapt to working remotely? This question is crucial for those candidates that previously worked full-time in an office and then full-time remotely or anyone interviewing for a full-time remote position. With this question, the interviewer is looking to see how you adapted to a new working environment and systems, which strategies you used to stay organized and connected to your team, and whether you can work autonomously and independently.
How do you cope with stress during times of change? These last two years have pushed our stress levels to new heights for many people. We've had to juggle the challenges of new remote working arrangements with personal challenges like homeschooling, sicknesses, and the ever-changing pandemic-related rules and regulations. So for this question, interviewers want to know what you do when things get complicated. Are you the type of person who forges ahead and gets things done, or do you meticulously plan out your daily agenda, so you squeeze everything in?
How did you manage to stay connected to your team? In a remote-working environment, communication is everyone's responsibility. We could no longer rely on walking across the office floor to ask a colleague a question. For this question, interviewers will want to hear how you adapted and evolved your communication techniques and tools to better meet a remote-working environment and stay connected to your managers, peers, and direct reports.
Have your career goals changed over the past two years, and how? For many people, the pandemic was a catalyst for change—a change in routines, work environments, roles and responsibilities, working preferences, and more. Maybe you found out you love working remotely, or perhaps you found out that you'd prefer to be doing something else with your time. Whatever the change, the interviewer wants to understand if the prospective role and the company are a good fit for you and your latest career goals.
What's one good thing that came out of the pandemic for you? In this question, interviewers are looking to see how you adapted to change and uncertainty, what you learned, and what you feel you gained. Because even though the pandemic had a lot of challenging and frustrating moments, there's probably a positive somewhere. Your response could be personal or professional and range from anything like a skill you learned or a change in your working style and routine to something you learned about yourself.
What is your preferred working style? The pandemic is in the rearview mirror for many businesses, and they're slowly bringing everyone back to in-person work. Interviewers likely have an idea of their company's future workplace policies, so they are trying to gauge if your interests align with theirs. Be upfront and honest about what you're looking for—in-person, hybrid, or remote—so you're sure the company is the best fit for you and your current career goals.
As candidates, we typically spend most of our time rehearsing our responses. First, however, we need to remember that an interview is a two-way conversation. Therefore, it's essential to develop a list of questions to ask a prospective employer during the interview. The goal is to gather more information about the company's culture, work ethic, and, these days, how they adapted to challenges during the pandemic. Then, you can figure out if it will be a good match for your current career goals and working style.
You can find many general questions to ask through a basic Google search (like here and here). However, these days it's vital to have a few up your sleeve that relates to the company's pandemic response. Forbes has a great list of interview questions to ask prospective employers post-COVID.
Here are a few of our favorite interview questions to weave into your next job interview:
Asking just a few questions relating to how the company acted, adapted, and evolved during the pandemic will give you insights into how they operate and treat their employees.
What's your favorite post-pandemic interview question?Feature Image: Beth Kanker