Prepare for these pandemic job interview questions

May 15, 2020

Any conversation that you have with another person for the foreseeable future will at least touch on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Job interviews are no different. Recruiters and hiring managers may even ask questions related to the global health crisis.

reached out to members of the LinkedIn community to find out what pandemic-related questions you should prepare for ahead of a job interview. Also, many people offered advice on how to answer those questions.

What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?

Recruiters and hiring managers are bound to ask you to tell them a bit about yourself during the interview. While they may still ask that basic question, they may alter it or follow up with another question to find out what you learned about yourself during the pandemic. 

Asking this question could be one way for an interviewer to assess your emotional intelligence, wrote Sharon W., a talent development executive. She added that the question can help an employer understand how you manage your emotions when faced with a crisis.

“I think there is a lot to learn about a candidate's resilience, motivation, and attitude by asking questions about how they have dealt with the quarantine,” wrote Lynda Grossman, who is a career coach.

Can you do the job while working from home?

A company that plans to hire someone in the near future will likely need to onboard them even though they’re stuck at home. You should expect questions about your ability to work from home and the resources you have available to do the job.

 You may be asked if you have a dedicated space in your home to work, wrote Laurie Jay Bailey. She added that you may also be asked if there are any special considerations they should know about and if you can work a normal workday while being at home. “It will be our new normal going forward.”

Recruiters and hiring managers will likely not pry too much into your day-to-day life, however. Knowing some information in certain situations can create legal complications for companies.

Are you willing to work from an office when the pandemic is over?

While many people are working from home during this difficult time, many will also head back to an office at some point in the not-so-distant future. You should be prepared if you’re asked about transitioning into an office setting when it’s safe to do so.

“I am asked constantly these days if I will be okay with going on-site when ‘things get back to normal,’” wrote Cindy Vasey.

You may want to look for positions that are clearly advertised as “remote” if you’re unwilling to work from an office. Otherwise, this is something to discuss with the recruiter or hiring manager since it may decide whether the employer moves forward with you as a candidate.

“I suspect people will be screened in early interview rounds to make sure they are willing to transition back from work-from-home to work on-site again,” wrote Tom B.

We discussed searching from a remote job in a recent edition of #GetHired with Tayo Rockson, who is a champion of remote working and president and CEO ofUYD Management. You can read his advice by clicking here.

How have you been spending your time?

I know some people’s workloads have been reduced during the pandemic for various reasons. As a result, my conversations with them often include me asking what they’ve been doing to keep busy. You may be asked a similar question during a job interview.

If they do ask that question, Rob Kim wrote that the employer is “looking for evidence of how you have been proactive and dealing with stress to see if you will bring value to their company.”

This type of question is a great opportunity to mention volunteer work you’ve been doing to keep your talents sharp or online classes you’ve been taking to learn new or advanced skills.

Do you have any questions for us?

Aside from recruiters and hiring managers asking you about the pandemic, you may want to touch on the situation when your opportunity to ask questions pops up during the interview. 

One question that’s important for you to ask is whether the company plans to onboard the person they hire even if everyone is still working remotely. You don’t want to get hired only to find out that your start date is weeks or months in the future.

“As far as technology, some companies have been remotely onboarding for far before COVID-19; sending computers, setting up a VPN, and onboarding/ramping up new employees successfully,” wrote Lindsay Lewis. “It's a shift for others, but many companies are definitely on-boarding people when they find the right candidate and have adjusted to the times of hiring remotely as well.”

You may also want to ask about company culture and training during the pandemic to find out what your initial experience with the employer may be like. Will they expect you to be fully prepared to do the job on day one? What training will they offer? How is the company keeping morale up during the pandemic? What’s the company’s future plan once infections start to wane?

Don’t forget to practice

We’ve mentioned several times that many job interviews are currently done over video. In those cases, it’s important to practice speaking to people through a webcam.

“I would recommend doing Zoom mock interviews with someone from your profession or better still someone in h.r. from your profession,” wrote Bernadette Pawlik.

We also discussed this topic in another recent edition of #GetHired. Sarah Johnston, who is the founder of Briefcase Coach, suggested other tips to help you nail your video interview. You can read her tips by clicking here.

Preparing for these discussions, traditional job interview questions and being confident over video will go a long way toward showing potential employers that you’re resilient when faced with difficult circumstances. A trait all companies would be happy to have in employees.

“What we are experiencing isn’t over and they will want the assurance that you’ll be someone who can be a cultural fit and an essential person to hire to not just sustain their business, but also help them grow,” wrote Sharon W.

By Andrew Seaman

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