For many, the pandemic has been a time of life-altering experiences and a chance to reflect on career goals and long-term ambitions.
So, it’s no surprise that job seekers are likely to be asked some pandemic-related questions in a job interview. Here’s a rundown of common questions interviewers are asking today and how to frame your response.
1. How did you adapt to remote working?
Although this may sound like a warm-up question, interviewers aren’t looking to hear about how great it was to wear yoga pants all day. It’s really a variation on “Tell me about the time you overcame a challenge” — a typical behavioral interview question designed to test your problem-solving skills and adaptability.
Craft your answer highlighting any creative solutions you came up with and how you turned a potentially stressful situation into a positive experience. Show how personal wins, such as being able to eliminate your commute, benefitted the workplace by allowing you to become even more productive.
2. How did the pandemic impact your career goals?
Here, hiring managers are looking for answers to two related questions: What are you looking for in your next role? And can our organization fulfill those ambitions?
Your answer should address what you learned about yourself during the pandemic and how that experience may have changed your long-term goals. Perhaps you decided to make that career transition you’ve been thinking about for years, or maybe you wanted to work in an industry more aligned with your environmental or social values. Or perhaps the fast-changing economy made you realize how important it is to take advantage of upskilling opportunities.
Next, explain why this makes you the ideal candidate for the position. Highlight the skills you’ll bring to the role and how motivated you are to get going. This is also your chance to show that your aspirations and values align with the company’s, so, prior to the interview, research the firm’s organizational culture. What are current employees saying on sites like Glassdoor and Yelp about what it’s like to work at the company?
As you prepare, be sure to read our video interview tips, too.
3. How did you keep yourself motivated and engaged while working remotely?
Working from home can present many distractions, whether it’s laundry waiting to be folded or your dog begging for a walk. In addition, it’s hard to feel like you’re part of a team when you’re not surrounded by colleagues providing a sense of camaraderie. With many teams still working remotely at least some of the time, employers want reassurance that you’re a disciplined worker who’s good at stepping up to challenges with a can-do attitude.
Perhaps the solitude of remote working allowed you to better focus on your projects. Or maybe it was regular Zoom meetings with your team that allowed you to keep going. Explain what you feel kept you on point and positive day after day.
4. How did you work to improve yourself during the pandemic?
This question may appear daunting at first. Navigating daily life was tough enough during the pandemic, let alone being able to find the time to take on self-improvement tasks not required by your day-to-day work. But the focus here is on what you did with the extra time you gained from not having to travel to and from an office and not being stuck there all day long.
Maybe you did manage to take a class online, and you’ve expanded your technical skills. Great! Or you fulfilled a long-time personal ambition to learn an instrument or read the classics. Make sure you loop back to outcomes and how that makes you a better employee — for example, plowing through Tolstoy taught you perseverance, or playing the piano helps you decompress after a tiring day.
It’s also OK if you didn’t pick up a new talent. Elaborate instead on the soft skills you honed while juggling household chores, caring for a sick relative or homeschooling your kids. Employers these days place a high value on qualities like patience, resilience and organization.
Need some help getting to the interview stage? Send us your resume.
5. How do you feel about returning to work in person?
It’s likely that the job posting already specified whether the position is fully in-person or hybrid. Hiring managers need to understand how receptive you are to returning to the office, so answer honestly. You can also take the opportunity to ask some questions of your own, such as how many in-office days are required per week, whether you’re allowed to choose which days you work from home and if this is likely to be a long-term arrangement.
Potential employers are using pandemic-related interview questions to assess how you fared and how you will continue to fare in a workplace turned upside down. That means you’ll have to showcase soft skills such as independence, adaptability and other attributes you feel you’ve developed as a result of the experience.