“What have you done during quarantine?”
It’s a question that you may hear in an interview these days. Perhaps they want to understand your resume gap, or maybe they’re curious about seeing how you persevered in the face of obstacles.
It may seem invasive, but it’s still important to be prepared with an answer, in case it comes up in your next interview.
“I’m usually one to try to find a workaround for any question, but for this one, I’d say just be honest,” Emily Keiper writes in the Fairygodboss community feed.
Everybody has faced challenges during the pandemic. Hopefully, your interviewer has the empathy to appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.
Concetta Phillipps encourages candidates to discuss the impact of their activities. “Then you can mention how things are changing week by week with things closing down regularly and how you're coping with it by doing X, Y and Z,” she explains. “That way, you reframe the conversation. It’s a trendy question to ask—what they're really looking for is to make sure you did something useful during the pandemic, even pushed yourself, regardless of whether or not we had to take care of family or deal with mental health issues.”
“After mentioning that you have been helping your family adjust and keeping up with the trends in your field to remain relevant, try mentioning that you've been dealing with the stress from this pandemic and taking care of yourself as well,” Milissa Jacobs writes. “I like to talk to candidates that are not afraid of mentioning their own needs and worth.”
“I’m going to throw out an answer that’s maybe a little out of left field and suggest that it’s an opportunity to show off a bit of your personality rather than burnish your credentials,” another poster suggests. “The last two years have been super hard, so maybe mention something you’ve done to stay sane, healthy or help your community. Maybe reframe and talk about things you’ve done to retain some sense of normalcy and well-being for your family and yourself.”
After all, we’re all human, and by revealing a more personal side, you can find a way to establish a connection with the interviewer — someone who has more than likely faced similar struggles.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.