The pandemic’s impact on the business world has dramatically changed employers’ expectations of the people they hire. Companies are increasingly looking for individuals who can thrive in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment.
In order to discern candidates’ abilities to do so, you need to elicit vital information to make informed hiring decisions.
Here are 10 key job interview questions to ask in the Covid era and what the answers could reveal about a candidate’s suitability for the job.
- The pandemic has caused varying degrees of stress for most of us. What has your experience been like and how have you been coping?
There shouldn’t be any shame in admitting the difficulties of dealing with the current situation. Those who say it hasn’t affected them at all are likely being dishonest.
From having to adjust to working remotely to having one’s job and financial security threatened while being concerned about contracting Covid-19, the possible sources of stress are endless.
As the candidate describes his or her personal experience of the pandemic era and coping techniques, their ability to deal constructively with difficult situations and stressors in the work environment will be revealed.
While acknowledging the challenges, are they able to adapt and come up with solutions?
The answer could tell you a lot about the candidates’ adaptability and resilience.
Some candidates mention doing volunteer work to help those more deeply affected by the effects of the pandemic. This gives them a sense of perspective and helps them cope with their own anxieties.
This reveals their sense of empathy and ability to help colleagues if, or when needed.
- What have you learnt about yourself during the pandemic?
This could help interviewers assess a candidate’s emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
Listen out for how they manage their emotions, motivate themselves and decide on actions to take during a crisis.
They might also reveal more about their working styles – perhaps they are more productive in the early hours of the morning or late at night, or they thrive in a remote work environment which offers greater autonomy rather than in a rigid office environment.
- What life lessons has this period taught you, if any?
The answer could reveal anything from how reflective a candidate is, to how they’ve reframed this challenging period into one that is abundant with opportunities.
For many individuals, the experience has stimulated a rethink of their career, the value of adapting quickly and learning new skills, the importance of improving their communication skills to work more effectively with team mates in a remote setting, etc.
- How has Covid-19 changed the way you see and approach your career?
The pandemic’s impact on the economy and businesses has precipitated a rude awakening for many individuals who’ve lost their jobs as result. But even for those who haven’t, it should have stimulated some reflection on the longevity of their career.
Listen out for how the candidate plans to deal with the uncertainties and ambiguities impacting their career and the actions they are taking or intend to take.
Listen out for how proactive they are.
- What skills, if any, have you picked up in the past few months?
Ideally, people should be picking up new skills throughout their careers, not just during a crisis that threatens their job security. However, navigating a pandemic economy is certainly a unique experience. Have they, in spite of the unique stresses of this period, been able to think clearly enough to do what’s needed to remain relevant?
Listen out for those who are self-taught, or those who glean lessons informally from online sources or books. This reflects their willingness to be proactive and to learn continually and spontaneously.
If the job requires the candidate to work from home:
- What would you do if you encountered a technical issue that the tech team can’t resolve immediately, and this ends up impeding your progress on the project you’re working on at the time?
Is the candidate able to improvise and think of a creative solution to move the project forward in spite of the technical difficulties? Perhaps they are able to move on to a different, but equally important task without being fazed by a temporary impediment.
You want candidates who can keep their cool and come up with solutions to solve problems, not the ones who let a temporary setback paralyse them.
- What would you do if you have issues dialling in to a remote meeting?
The answer would reveal whether the candidate is able to deal with a difficult situation calmly enough to take the necessary action.
Would they reach out to the meeting’s host to let them know what’s going on? Would they reach out to all meeting attendees? Would they keep quiet, leaving the attendees wondering if they’ll be joining the meeting? This will reveal a lot about their communication style in addition to their ability to deal with difficult situations.
- How do you handle interruptions and distractions when you work from home?
Employers need to be understanding of the unique challenges of working from home. Grocery deliveries, children and pets are among the potential interruptions.
How a person chooses to deal with them will reveal their work and communication styles.
How would they manage potential delays to the completion of urgent and important tasks? Perhaps they’ll need to postpone certain meetings to deal with a problem at home. Listen out for how they would communicate all of this to the team.
Ask them what support they would offer should one of their colleagues have a similar situation to deal with.
- How would you organise your day while working remotely?
How does the candidate practise self-discipline?
Their methods may be unconventional. Let them share their productivity hacks. Listen out for how they plan to meet deadlines while working largely autonomously.
Also, ask them what they do to prevent burnout. This is vital to their long-term health, happiness and productivity. Asking this question will also show the candidate that you care about employees’ well-being.
Generally, the answer will give you important clues about how they’d like to be managed and how you can help bring out the best in them.
- How do you think you can cultivate and maintain a positive working relationship with your colleagues remotely?
Each person would have a preferred communication style. While there is no right or wrong answer to this question, it will reveal the individual’s notion of ideal team dynamics.
Are they happy to play an active role in cultivating collaborative working relationships, or do they prefer to communicate only if there’s a need to do so? This will determine which role you place them in. Perhaps he or she would be an ideal team leader who can nurture relationships to optimise team dynamics. On the other hand, he or she might be better off as an individual contributor.
You can also discuss what steps they are open to taking in order to make remote communication more effective and productive.