Given the current context, it is impossible to ignore the pandemic that is raging in the world. Most interviews are held remotely, and if you are hired, your first few days on your new job might not be spent in the company's offices, but at home working from home.
Nowadays you must be able to answer new kinds of questions. Which ones are the most common and how do you answer them?
1. Has the Coronavirus affected your professional choices/career?
Has the current situation made you reconsider your job? Why are you applying for this job? Are you looking for another job because you don't like your current job anymore?
All these questions can potentially be asked by the recruiter, so answer them honestly and don't hide from them. Honesty is always better than lies, even in post-Covid times.
2. How did you experience the consecutive lockdowns?
The purpose of this question is not only to find out the state of mind of the candidates during this very special period. Above all, it allows recruiters to get an initial idea of their ability to adapt, or even to bounce back. There are no eliminatory answers. With this question, it is the candidate's emotional management of the crisis that recruiters are trying to understand, but also their ability to show resilience. With this question, recruiters also want to dig into a more specific subject: the fragile balance between professional and personal life. Working remotely can be a double-edged sword, it is interesting to know how candidates have managed to show agility in their daily organisation.
3. Can you describe a typical remote working day (in your previous job)?
The aim of this question is not necessarily to list in chronological order the tasks that a candidate carries out while at work. Rather, it is about how they organise their day when remote working.
When working from home, especially when forced to do so, employees find their daily work routine completely changed. When asked, this question allows recruiters in interviews "to understand the autonomy that candidates show when they encounter an unusual situation".
Several subjects can be addressed during this question: the rituals set up to maintain a link with other employees, the rhythm of interactions with geographically dispersed teams, the work tools used to collaborate remotely, the working hours adapted to the family context, etc.
4. What lessons have you learned from the Covid-19 crisis?
This question is already a must for recruitment interviews in the post-Covid era. It allows to measure the candidates' ability to take a step back. Unlike the previous ones, this question has a few pitfalls. "If the candidate indicates that there was no before/after and that after the first lockdown, he or she continued to work as if nothing had happened, this raises doubts about their ability to question themselves and to adapt to new professional contexts," explains Cécile Maillard, a journalist specialised in social relations at work. Conversely, if a candidate says that he or she has taken advantage of the period of isolation to acquire skills, develop qualities such as autonomy or maybe the pandemic made them realise how much they value time with their family, they might have picked up an awesome new hobby, all this proactivity will be appreciated.
5. How do you feel about returning to work in person?
This is now a common logistical issue. Interviewers are genuinely trying to assess whether or not you are ready to return to the office after working from home for so long.
Depending on the nature of the position and local regulations, some recruiters may ask if people would be comfortable working in person now or in the near future. If a recruiter asks this question, it's likely that your manager or the company is hoping to hire someone who can come into the office full-time or regularly.
Depending on the type of setup you're looking for (in-person, hybrid or remote), you'll need to make sure you clarify the following: will there be a remote working option? Will you need to be in the office full-time or is part-time work possible?
If you wish to return to an office, you can say: "I am quite willing to return to the office once things are totally secure, I would be happy to hear about your company's plans to return to the office".
If you want to go for a hybrid working, you can ask about the company's policy on working from home a few days a week. You might say:
"I really enjoy working in person, but I've found that I'm more productive when I work from home. Ideally, I'd like to find a position that allows me to balance in-person and remote work. What are your policies on hybrid arrangements?"