Top 6 Post-Pandemic Interview Questions (and How to Answer)
The pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives in one way or another, and as a result, the way we think, live and work has forever changed. With business now rapidly moving into the future, employers are using the interview process to assess candidates on a new set of skills and capabilities. Whether preparing for a virtual interview or one in-person, you should expect to encounter questions you previously have not.
In this article you will learn:
- Why employers ask questions about the pandemic
- Best practices for answering these questions
- How to answer the question the interviewer is really asking
- New questions you can ask the interviewer
Let’s dive in.
Understanding pandemic-related interview questions
From questions about your remote work experience to changes in personal preferences, there is a lot an interviewer can learn by asking questions about your experiences over the past two years. Some of these questions are designed to assess soft skills, while others are more practical and seek to determine your fit with the company’s needs and policies. The interviewer will want to understand the impact your unique experience has had on you both personally and professionally.
How to answer pandemic-related interview questions
You are likely aware of the STAR method for answering behavioral interview questions. You can use a similar approach to answer these new interview questions. When it comes to discussions about the pandemic, both personal and professional, your answers should always show your HEART:
- Honesty: Being honest and realistic about your capabilities and experiences is important because it shows the interviewer you will work ethically and with integrity.
- Empathy: Displaying empathy within your responses shows you have a clear understanding of the thoughts of others and the ability to use that understanding to communicate effectively, think creatively and build strong working relationships through trust.
- Adaptability: Adaptability is crucial in an ever-changing workplace. Show your understanding of the evolving workplace landscape and industry trends, along with your ability to adapt to continuous change.
- Resiliency: Displaying resilience shows you are confident and have the will to persevere through challenging circumstances. When discussing prior difficulties, focus on the positive while describing how you dealt with, overcame and learned from the experience.
- Transparency: Being transparent about your skills, experiences and expectations helps the interviewer ensure you are a good fit for the role and that their company is a good fit for you.
Top 6 new interview questions for 2022
1. How did the pandemic affect the way you foresee your career?
If you are looking for a new job, there’s a good probability the way you view your career goals or priorities has changed. What the interviewer really wants to know is how those changes apply to what you are looking for in your next role. Your response to this question will help them ensure their company and role is a good fit for what you want. Use this as an opportunity to show your knowledge of impacts within your specific industry and to share how you envision the future of work and your plan to adapt.
2. How did you adapt to working remotely?
This won’t be the last time you face a challenging situation at work. Interviewers use this question to gauge your ability to cope with stress and respond to change, so be prepared to answer it regardless of whether you are interviewing for a remote role or not. However, make sure your response aligns with the primary setting in which work will take place. If you are unsure whether the position is remote, now is a great time to ask for clarification.
Remote roles: Assure the interviewer of your ability to be productive and self-sufficient in a remote environment. Describe your workspace and any strategies you use to work collaboratively, maintain motivation and minimize distractions throughout your workday.
Non-remote roles: Use this as an opportunity to highlight your ability to respond well to unexpected changes in the workplace. This was the first time most people and companies alike experienced a primarily remote workforce. If you were uncomfortable working from home at first, it is okay to say so. Just be sure to explain what you did to address and overcome those challenges.
3. How have you worked on your professional development during this time?
There are always lessons to learn from challenging circumstances. What the interviewer really wants to know is that you can identify these learning opportunities. We have all learned so much about ourselves, our families, our organizations and our communities. The key here is to be honest, focus on the positive and customize your answer to your specific situation.
Lessons related to hard skills: Did you take advantage of free online webinars or courses? Have you learned how to use new tools or technologies to improve your performance? Did you earn a new certification? If so, start your response here since these are all things likely related to the hard skills that are necessary for success in the role.
Lessons related to soft skills: Are you more productive when you work from home than you are in the office? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Perhaps you’ve realized you need greater flexibility in your schedule because you work best during non-traditional hours. Maybe you learned you are more resilient and agile than you thought. These lessons will all help you bring more value to your work. Share what you have learned about yourself, your priorities and how you work best with the interviewer.
4. Would you be comfortable working on-site now or in the near future? (And other location-based questions)
As employers analyze a plethora of remote and hybrid working models, they may not yet be sure what their workplace policy will be moving forward. Thus, the location-based questions they ask may not necessarily be indicative of how the role will work now or in the future.
When these types of questions arise, it is best to be honest and transparent. If you are unsure how comfortable you would be returning to an office, you can use this as an opportunity to ask what policies the employer has in place to ensure workplace safety. Begin by clearly stating your minimum expectations and then explain any additional preferences. If you prefer to remain remote, make sure your answer displays how you utilize your strengths to work productively outside of an office.
5. When working hybrid or remotely, how do you manage your day?
Translation: Are you productive when working remotely?
Remote work requires strong self-discipline. If the position you are interviewing for works remotely even part of the time, the employer will want to ensure you have a dedicated workspace free of and protected from excessive distractions. This is easier to show if you already have remote work experience as you can simply describe the tools and strategies you use to plan your day, remain engaged and complete your work effectively.
If you don’t have prior remote work experience, it’s important to reassure the interviewer of your ability to remain autonomous and productive from any environment. You can do this by discussing your familiarity with digital communication and collaboration tools, highlighting project management skills and sharing any experience you have working with distributed teams.
6. How do you maintain communication when working with remote or hybrid teams?
Communication is crucial when working on a remote or hybrid team. The interviewer wants to know you understand the importance of being accountable for meeting communication expectations. They are also likely looking to ensure your communication preferences will be a good fit for their company culture. Provide examples of the methods you use to maintain clear and consistent communication with colleagues and how you collaborate to get work done. You can also use examples of how you have kept in touch with friends and family while social distancing.
New questions to ask during an interview
Most interviewers build the answers to common candidate questions into the interview, so when they ask, ‘do you have any questions for me?’, responding in an impactful way is challenging. As the world enters a new era of work, here are some questions you can ask to ensure the company and job align with your needs and priorities:
- What were/are the company’s biggest challenges regarding the pandemic?
- What tools and/or strategies did you adopt to make communication and collaboration more effective while working remotely?
- How do you ensure culture is maintained when working in a hybrid or remote way?
- What are the strategic priorities of the organization and have these changed due to the crisis? How does this role support in achieving them?
- I read your mission/values places [ideal] above everything. How do you feel you exemplified that throughout 2020 & 2021?