The old rule book of what questions to expect in an interview prepares us for typical questions like- ‘tell me about yourself,’ ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ and ‘why do you want this job.’ However the pandemic changed the game, shifting the focus on the candidate’s adaptability and willingness to learn during rough times.
Even though we might think that the topic of pandemic has become saturated, somehow all our conversations circle back to it. There is a high chance your interviewer might bring it up too and we want you to be prepared. Here is a list of five questions that will probably surface up during your next interview:
1. How are you holding up? How are you adjusting to life post-pandemic?
This question has a subtle ‘tell me about yourself’ vibe and is meant to gauge your communication skills and how well you interact with others. It’s best to keep it short and honest without indulging deeply in your personal life. You can admit that the year was sad and tough but you are doing alright and wish to see the glass half full. This question is basically an icebreaker, it might not be the deciding factor but it surely sets the tone.
2. How did you adapt to working remotely?
Pandemic happened suddenly and the recruiter wants to know how well you navigate unexpected changes. Are you good at dealing with challenges that life throws at you? He is gauging your resilience and your ability to figure things out as you go.
You should step up and explain about the difficulties you faced during the initial phase of work-from-home and the effective solutions you came up with. For example, how you converted your underutilized storeroom into your office, invested in noise-cancelling headphones to co-exist with your family in a small space and thus increased your overall productivity.
3. How did the pandemic affect your career goals?
A study shows that 64% of people switched jobs during the pandemic as it changed their perceptions about life and career. The interviewer wants to know what you are looking for in your next role. Is it the newfound interest in sustainability or did you realise it was time to learn new skills? Has the hybrid schedule become a priority for you so you can spend time with your family and avoid wasting time in commutes?
4. What have you learned during the pandemic?
This is to understand how you balance your personal life with professional life. Both of them have shifted tectonically, so what have you done to manage it? In other words, do you learn from adversity?
You can focus on how you managed to learn all the technological aspects of this new lifestyle without getting fazed. And if you were unemployed, you can talk about how you added to your skills by attending webinars or tutorials. But you don’t have to burden yourself with being over-the-top impressive. Even if you didn’t learn any new skills or develop any new hobbies, it's completely fine. You can talk about something you learned about yourself and how you work and that will be more than enough.
5. How do you feel about returning to work in person?
This might be the most important question for the recruiter. While some jobs might stay remote forever, some will open up soon and before getting someone new onboard, it's important for them to know your preferences. Chances are they might be looking for someone who can join the office on a regular basis.
This is the point where honesty IS the best policy. If you are open to joining the office in-person but have doubts regarding the safety protocols, discuss it here. And if you prefer a more hybrid arrangement, you can ask about their policies regarding that as well.
During times like these, making an informed decision is important. If you are curious about the company's ability to adapt in this changing economy, its culture, you can ask some questions as well. Talking about the pandemic can be harrowing, you have to keep reminding yourself to be professional and you will get through it!