As the world is adapting to what is now the “new normal,” Fairygodboss wants to be there for you every step of the way. Keep reading for timely advice and join our Navigating the New Normal group for continued support.
If you’re looking for work, chances are you’ve already had to navigate some of the changes COVID has brought to the job search. Everything in life looks a little different right now, interviews included. And while you may have already brushed up on the best questions to ask hiring managers right now, it’s not a bad idea to also prepare for some new interview questions that could be directed your way, too. Below, we heard from hiring experts about the nine questions job seekers should be ready to be answer in interviews today.
Although many companies are currently operating remotely, at some point, they may envision that you’ll join them at a brick-and-mortar office.
“The remote position you accepted may ask you to start working physically at their headquarters — which could be far from where you currently live,” Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.com, said. “Candidates should be prepared to answer whether or not they could physically work from that HQ and their reasoning behind why they can or cannot.”
As remote work — at least for now, and quite likely stretching into the months ahead — remains a reality for many businesses, it’s likely you’ll be asked about your work-from-home style.
“A lot of interview questions that candidates can expect to be asked during the current climate will be focused around flexibility,” Liam Flynn, Founder and Editor of Musicgrotto.com, said. “We believe that hiring managers will want to establish how comfortable new hires are working remotely and without a team around them. They will want to hire candidates who can self-motivate and who don't need too much support on a daily basis.”
As business priorities shift — and will likely continue shifting — within this new environment, hiring managers will be looking for specific examples that prove your ability to pivot alongside them.
“There will be questions where they are looking for evidence that you can be adaptable and resilient. Not only how you adapted, but did you help others to also adapt?” Ineke McMahon, a hiring manager at Path to Promotion, said. “They will be looking for evidence of innovation or being solution orientated — they may ask about how you overcame various challenges… They will want to see that you pushed past your perceived limitations and showed self leadership and emotional intelligence. This pandemic isn't over yet, and they will want the assurance that you'll be someone who can continue to adapt and add value.”
While it may not seem like the most high-impact question, as companies assess your ability to join the team remotely, it’s possible they’ll want to make sure you have the right tools already accessible.
“You need to prepare yourself for the fact that the job you might land could be work from home initially, and therefore you will be asked if you have the tech required,” David Bakke, Hiring Manager at Dollar Sanity, said. “This could be a webcam, a high-speed Internet connection, or a variety of other things. Be prepared for that.”
More than ever, self-starting workers are in high demand. Your ability to act autonomously and stay organized is something hiring managers will be curious about, explained Jason Patel, founder of Transizion.
“For this question, the company is asking how do you keep yourself accountable at home and provide value to the company through your flexible work. In other words, they want to know that you're going to be ultra-productive while balancing the freedom that remote work has to offer,” Patel said. “Show how you organize yourself, keep tabs on multiple projects, and compare your progress against what your team is getting done. Finally, tell the interviewer how you would contribute to the team remotely.”
If you’re currently employed and looking for new work during COVID, your interviewer may ask about your motivations for switching jobs in an uncertain market, Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach, said.
“It could be that your company has announced layoffs or that staying there would set you back in terms of your growth and professional development,” Cohen said. The key is in framing your response in a way that positively emphasizes your interest in the company you’re interviewing with. In other words, you don’t want to give the hiring manager the impression you’re only interested in the role because of your current job insecurity.
Some variation of this question usually pops up during interviews. Given current circumstances, it’s even likelier you’ll be asked how you handle stress or pressure.
“The pandemic is a stressful situation for all of us,” Alex Azoury, CEO and Founder of Home Grounds, said. “Because of that, this question may be used to get an overview of how the candidates handle themselves during stressful situations. When candidates have excellent stress management capabilities, they can answer this question with ease.”
Given people’s craving for genuine connections right now and the fact that certain lines of professionalism may be dissolving, it’s possible you’ll be asked a question that feels a little more personal. Namely, how are you responding to and coping with this new normal?
“These kinds of questions are designed to assess your emotional intelligence, how you can cope with a crisis, as well as your resilience,” Max Wolf, a Career Expert at ResumeLab, said. “Generally, you want to structure your answers in a way that spotlights you've been a proactive member of your team who’s been able to deal with stress effectively.”
To be clear, you legally shouldn’t be asked this question. But if an employer is especially interested in hiring workers they believe are resistant to the virus, they may try to slip this in.
“Employers are not allowed to ask these types of medical questions during an interview, but that doesn't mean they won't,” Adam Sanders, Director of Successful Release, said. “It might just come up indirectly, but many hiring managers are going to feel you out to see if you've already been infected with COVID-19 and if there is a possibility that you would need to quarantine in the near future.”
Note that companies can legally screen new hires for active cases of COVID-19 but only if a conditional job offer has already been made and if all other employees entering the same type of job within the company are also screened. If you’re being asked about your COVID status in the initial interviews well before you’ve been made an offer, it isn’t legal, and you can decline to answer.
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