The COVID-19 pandemic, the social changes it triggered, and the economic impact completely changed how people perform their jobs. Those who work remotely or in hybrid arrangements use various digital tools, collaborate across teams, and engage in side hustles.
Work expectations have also changed for both employers and employees. Companies increasingly expect digital literacy as a basic requirement. They want to know that potential employees are committed to ongoing professional development at a time when skills are becoming obsolete faster than ever before.
Workers increasingly expect flexibility in work hours and location, seek a better balance between their careers and personal lives, and want to work for companies that positively contribute to the world.
Combined with the ongoing impact of the Great Resignation, it’s not surprising that companies are looking at job applicants through different eyes. As a result, interviewers ask questions assessing applicants’ ability to cope with the new realities.
Below are some of the questions you can expect to be asked at an interview and how you could answer them.
Are you fully vaccinated?
While not all companies will ask this question, be prepared to answer it – hopefully with a positive outcome. The Manpower Group reports that about two-thirds of companies have made vaccinations mandatory for employees returning to work. Another survey found that one-third of recruiters in the US automatically disqualify applicants whose resumes do not include vaccination status information.
How would you feel about working on site?
Whether it’s now or in the future, full-time or part-time, there’s a good chance you’ll have to work in an office environment at some point. Employers are still figuring out which hybrid or remote work model best fits their business, so it may not be 100% clear where you will work in the future.
Being honest about how you feel about this question is essential. Your work environment plays a significant role in your productivity and stress management. Before the interview, determine what your expectations are in this regard and be ready to explain them clearly. Take the opportunity to ask about health and safety protocols in the workplace and how other employees behave in the office.
How do you manage your time when working remotely?
With employees spending more time out of the office and active management oversight, your ability to manage independently will inevitably come under scrutiny. The interviewer will expect you to demonstrate your sense of self-discipline and autonomy and to familiarise yourself with the tools that facilitate remote collaboration.
If you’ve worked remotely before, you should share strategies to avoid distractions, create a productive environment, connect with colleagues, and manage your time. If you don’t have experience working remotely, you can still explain how you’ve kept projects on schedule and effectively dealt with remote stakeholders in the past. Try to explain how you take a proactive approach to your work-from-home environment, rather than just hoping the interviewer will assume you have it all figured out.
How strong are your communication skills?
Distributed teams have put a new twist on this classic question. Employers want to know if candidates can communicate effectively and with agility across multiple platforms – email, phone, video conference or Slack – and even time zones. How do you get your message across, how do you handle follow-ups, and how do you make sure all relevant stakeholders are kept in the loop? The interviewer may ask you how you would communicate the same information across multiple channels.
Explain your strategies for keeping people informed, and give specific examples of how you stayed in touch with colleagues, friends, and family during the pandemic. Highlight that you are familiar with remote work software, and if the interviewer asks you about a tool you do not know, be honest but show your willingness and eagerness to learn it. For example, telling them how quickly you learned to use Slack should build confidence in your ability to understand Teamwork, or Monday.
How do you manage your professional development?
Skills requirements were already changing before COVID-19 as automation, and digital transformation changed the nature of the skills needed by workers. At the same time, the speed at which skills need to be updated and replaced has increased. The pandemic has accelerated these trends.
Interviewers want to know that candidates are adaptable, want to improve themselves, and can identify learning opportunities even under challenging conditions. Tell them how you’ve improved your skills through online courses, on-the-job training, taking on new projects, or good old-fashioned reading. Don’t hesitate to also talk about the impact of the pandemic on your soft skills and any further insights you’ve gained about your values and priorities. Tailor your answers to the specific needs or circumstances of the job or company you’re applying for.
What are your thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace?
As consumers, investors, and employees increasingly focus on how companies are working to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), questions about this are popping up more frequently in job interviews. These questions serve a dual purpose: they show that these principles are essential to the company, which is a plus for many job seekers. They also show that the company is looking for employees who understand and value these principles.
Be prepared for questions about what DEI means to you, how you would eliminate bias in your hiring process, or how you would handle a colleague who is sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise culturally insensitive.
It’s important to be authentic here, as interviewers are likely to be able to sniff out an insincere response or platitude. Educate yourself about the importance of diverse teams so that you are well informed, reflect on your own experiences, and try to give specific examples of situations where you wrestled with or learned from diversity at work or in your personal life.
Need some practice?
Interviews are difficult to navigate, but you can practise them in order to improve your responses and confidence. Interview Skills offers tailored training programmes with detailed feedback to help you land the job you deserve. Contact us to learn more.