As the world eases into what is hopefully the final phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hiring landscape has experienced significant, lasting changes. Many workplaces now allow applicants to work remotely or on a hybrid schedule. There have also been radical changes introduced to the interviewing process. Applicants may now conduct job interviews via Zoom and using other types of video conferencing software.
HR specialists are also turning their focus to asking questions that go beyond the typical questions asked during a job interview. Beyond standard questions such as why you’re interested in this role and the strengths you can bring to this position, HR professionals are using this time to ask applicants more thoughtful questions that are mindful of the unprecedented times.
1. How are you?
I often think about the weight that asking this question has on the person answering it. In 2019, a member of London’s ITV news staff asked Meghan Markle how she was doing and if she was okay.
Markle, then a new mother to her son Archie, admitted that not many people have asked if she’s okay. She spoke openly about the challenges of being a new mother and newlywed and even thanked the reporter for asking the question.
These three words have a big impact on potential candidates, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no right or wrong answer. All that counts is simply asking the question and engaging in the conversation that comes after answering it.
2. What was the remote work experience like for you?
If the applicant has been working remotely throughout the pandemic, this is the perfect time to inquire about their experience.
The answers to this question may allow you to learn how quickly candidates adapted to remote work. Candidates may share how they set up their home office, challenges they experienced while working from home and how they resolved them, and highlights of working remotely that allowed them to become more productive and efficient in their roles.
You may also use this question to segue into discussions about their work environment preferences. For example, some candidates may share that they would like to keep working remotely. Others may prefer to return to the office full-time or express interest in a hybrid model where they can come into work a few days each week and work remotely for the rest of the week.
3. Did the pandemic impact your career goals?
Asking candidates about their long-term career goals is a standard job interview question. The answers should allow you to find out more about the candidate’s long-term plans as well as what they value and what matters to them.
COVID-19, and periods spent in lockdown, have given each one of us the opportunity to reevaluate our goals and dreams. Some candidates may respond that their career goals are still intact and the pandemic did not impact them. However, this may not be the case for other applicants. Some prospective hires might have moved back home to be with family, learned how to create work-life balance that works for them, or enrolled in courses on the side that allow them to make a lateral career move. As a result, they might have different goals now than they did prior to the pandemic—and that’s okay.
Candidates may be happy to discuss with you what they are now looking for in their next position and why working for your business helps better align with their goals for the future.
4. What did you achieve over the last year that you’re most proud of?
It can be easy to dwell on the disappointments, frustrations and sadness that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s equally as important to think about the good things that came out of this unprecedented time.
Consider asking candidates about an achievement they are most proud of from the last year. What was it? Did they take initiative for it or was it gradually achieved over time? How were they able to accomplish it? The candidate will likely be excited to share a bit of good news with you and express enthusiasm for getting the opportunity to do work that allows them to leave behind their mark. In turn, you may learn more about their work style and how much they may enjoy the work they may be doing working for you.
What's your no. 1 piece of advice for empathetic interviews? Leave your answer in the comments to help other FGB’ers.
This article was written by an FGB Contributor.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.