How to answer job interview questions about the pandemic

Most people are tired of thinking about the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they’re done talking about it.

That’s certainly true for job searches and interviews, according to career experts.

Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, hiring managers are still asking candidates questions about Covid-19, whether it’s about working remotely or the impact on their life or career.

Some of these questions are designed to assess a potential employee’s ability to cope with change and overwhelming situations. Others are more practical, often related to the suitability of the candidate with a company’s Covid-19 policies.

The best way to answer questions about the pandemic is to prepare for it and be as transparent as possible, career consultants told CNBC Make It.

How did you adapt?

From “How do you organize your working day from home?” “To” how do you manage your team and stay connected? – Questions related to how you have adjusted to working life during the pandemic are among the most common, according to recruiters.

Such questions are especially important for companies that plan to operate remotely or as part of a hybrid model because they want to ensure that new hires can be just as productive outside of the head office, said Amanda Augustine. , Career Advice Expert at TopResume. .

“Share how you went beyond the job description, to help your colleagues or the business at large,” said Kelly Bowerbank, associate director of talent management firm Kerry Consulting. Recruiters look for signs of leadership, altruism and the ability to work well with ambiguity, she noted.

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Augustine recommended going into the specific tools you used.

“Applicants should be prepared to talk about the tools they adopted or the strategies they implemented to be successful in a remote environment,” she said. Talk about the digital communication and project management tools that you comfortably use to stay organized and connected with your colleagues, she added.

Plus, it’s worth sharing the details of your home workspace, such as efforts to improve your internet connectivity or any lighting and sound equipment you’ve purchased to help you look more professional when you go. are at home.

You’ll not only improve your virtual interview game, but you’ll also show potential employers that you’re ready to be an effective remote employee, Augustine said.

What are the challenges?

Interviewers will also want to know how you coped with the pandemic and the challenges they presented. In responding, career experts recommended taking a personal approach.

“Be honest about the roller coaster trip you’ve had,” according to Kerry Consulting’s Bowerbank. “Trust is earned with vulnerability and stories. Show that you are human, a future coworker they can relate to.”

She suggested a simple framework for sharing such stories:

  • Challenge: Yes, you were in a tough spot, but you made the most of it.
  • action: Share when you’ve taken steps beyond your lead role or had the curiosity to learn.
  • Results: Talk about the final positive result you got.

But here’s something to note: While honesty is encouraged, it’s also important to keep some challenges private, especially when involving former employers.

“No matter how unsatisfactory your ex-employer’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic is, you should never share what you think about it with your potential employer,” said Jaya Dass, managing director of the consulting firm in human resources Randstad Singapore.

“Even if you had good intentions, your interviewer will develop a negative perception of you and will prefer not to hire you to protect the organizational culture,” she added.

What is your favorite style of work?

With remote and hybrid working models prevalent during the pandemic, employers will be eager to understand your preferred working style and how it fits their workplace policy going forward.

This means applicants need to do their homework on potential business plans and be upfront about their own wishes, experts agreed.

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“Candidates should be as transparent as possible about their preferences, setting expectations with hiring managers up front,” said Kirsty Hulston, regional manager at Hays, a multinational recruiting company.

“As a candidate, it’s best to answer this question honestly. If you don’t feel like returning to full-time working life, be clear with your wishes,” TopResume’s Augustine said.

She added that it is important for candidates to think about their goals and prioritize what is most important to them for their next job, whether it is company culture, compensation or job title. the ability to work flexibly.

How did you work on yourself?

Recruiters also highlighted questions such as “How have you been during Covid – both personally and professionally?” Or “How did you align your skills with the needs of the pandemic?” “

These questions provide an opportunity for applicants to share how they worked on themselves during Covid-19, career experts have said.

“Share your learning outcomes and how you became a better version of yourself as an individual, employee or leader,” Bowerbank said.

Regarding professional development, discuss how you used the extra time to sharpen your skills and improve your knowledge during this time, Hulston said. Talk about any virtual courses you’ve attended or certifications you’ve achieved during that time, she added.

Applicants can also answer the question in terms of personal development. Mention any wellness practices you adopted or new hobbies you cultivated during the pandemic, according to Hulston.

The same approach can also be taken to explain the shortcomings of the resume. Direct the conversation to what you accomplished while you were away from work, personally or professionally, experts said.

Don’t miss: Your resume has 6 seconds to impress a hiring manager, says a former Amazon recruiter. Here are 3 tips for success

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