How Interviews Have Changed Post COVID: 7 Pandemic-Specific Questions With Answers

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pandemic questions
8 min read

The pandemic has changed the way a majority of the world functions, and we’ve all felt the stressors in one way or another. With many offices and workplaces now opening up and going into peak hiring mode, the natural questions posed are: “How have interviews changed?” and “What are the most important post-pandemic interview questions?”

When preparing for interviews, we cover the regular questions asked about educational and work backgrounds, strengths, and future plans. Enter, the ‘COVID bucket’, where we must now tackle questions surrounding the pandemic as well.

When switching jobs post the pandemic, I saw, first-hand, how interviews now angle more towards aspects like relocation and virtual work style, which didn’t matter previously. My decision to work in another city was scrutinised, with interviewers trying to understand if I wanted a short-term job that I’d eventually leave once offices opened up or If I was truly willing to move. Communication was stressed on more than work experience since they wanted to know how I’d navigate online coordination.

Now, how could I tell them about wanting to mute my mic and scream into a pillow during every long meeting?

It’s safe to say that interviews will never be the same again, and as a job seeker, it’s your responsibility to adapt and stay on top of your game!

interview questions

The Top 4 Strengths That Employers Value Post The Pandemic

1. Ownership

Working from home comes with one of the most common post-pandemic challenges for team leaders since they can’t keep track of their employees’ output. This also means that you,  as a team member,  won’t be able to get your doubts cleared instantly. Showing ownership of your tasks matters the most during this time, and if the interviewer trusts that you can get things done without slacking off, you’re golden!

2. Adaptability

Not all processes can be easily adapted into a work-from-home model, and the same goes for employees. If you can convince interviewers about your ability to pivot when the going gets tough, there’s nothing like it. You can even give them a few real-life examples, if possible.

3. Communication

Sure, communication was valued even then, but it’s a bigger priority now. This is where your millennial or GenZ status comes in handy since you can highlight your love for devices. Most importantly, make sure you respond to the interviewer on time and explain things wherever needed, so they can see what you’re talking about, first-hand.

4. Will Power

With longer meetings and general mental exhaustion, working from home comes with challenges. I’ve personally been asked about how I dealt with both personal and professional stress during this time. Talk about any techniques you use to ground yourself and stay productive, and even hobbies you’ve taken up.

(Continue Reading Below)

Post-Pandemic Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

1. Has the pandemic affected your job search?

Be honest while answering this question. Your interviewer knows that the job market has been tough on everyone, but they want to gauge how resilient you are. If you’ve had a hard time landing a gig, talk about the challenges you’ve faced and how you dealt with them in a positive manner.

2. What has your lockdown experience been like and how did you deal with it?

You don’t need to get too personal with this one, so say as much or as little as you’d like about your life since the pandemic. The interviewer wants to get to know you, so how much you disclose is up to you. Disclaimer: give a balanced answer because being too positive might imply extra eagerness and being too negative won’t give off the best impression.

3. Do you enjoy working remotely? What challenges have you faced?

Be as forthcoming as possible in this answer. If you’ve enjoyed working from home, say so, and if not, say that too! When talking about the challenges you’ve faced, mention how you overcame them, as it’ll show how you adapt to situations.

4. What does a normal work-from-home day look like to you?

There are a lot of things an interviewer can gauge from your answer ﹘ your productivity, home responsibilities, work-life balance, and more. Make sure you’re honest, but also focus on how you can create boundaries between your personal and professional life.

They’re just trying to ensure there won’t be too many distractions in the background while you work.

5. What methods of communication do you prefer when working from home?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this, so be as honest as possible. Do you mind an occasional phone call from colleagues or would rather that communication be solely on the company’s business communication channel? Do you prefer keeping tasks official on email? Let the interviewer know.

6. How do you feel about returning to work eventually?

It’s best to be honest during this time, especially if you’d like to work from home indefinitely, as the organisation will keep these priorities in mind down the line. Avoid replying with a harsh ‘no’ when asked if you’ll eventually come to the office, and instead cite your reasons. It goes the other way too as, if your company plans to work remotely for the next couple of years, they might prefer employees who enjoy working from home. I prefer to keep my answer neutral if there’s no personal reason forcing me to choose either option.

7. Have you learnt something new or picked up skills during the lockdown?

Don’t sweat it if you haven’t learnt anything, considering we’re all dealing with a lot at the moment. However, you don’t want to draw a blank either. Focus on your hobbies in general and talk about new books or artists you’ve discovered. You can also talk about new habits you’ve introduced since lockdown, whether it’s yoga or gardening. The interviewer is trying to gauge your productivity, so ensure you have something to say.

pandemic interview

Questions To Ask Interviewers

Empathy has taken a front seat during the pandemic, but not all organisations put their employees first. You want to make sure that the organisation values its employees, and is empathetic towards their concerns and any health-related or personal issues that may arise. Here are some questions you should ask the interviewer.

1. Has the organisation taken any safety measures for employees during this time?

This is simple: You need a work environment that keeps employees’ needs at the forefront. This means sick leaves should be approved without much hassle and any concerns about working on-site should be addressed.

Don’t forget to ask about new policies such as mental health leaves, paid leave for COVID patients, etc. 

2. What challenges is the organisation facing post the pandemic?

Every company has faced never-seen-before challenges owing to COVID, but what’s essential is transparency. If your question is honestly answered, it means they value and trust you, and are open to solutions.

3. What is the preferred mode of communication at this organisation?

Stay far away from any company that cites WhatsApp as a mode of communication because you can expect late-night messages and calls, and loads of work to complete each day. Plus, a company that does not respect professional communication channels may be unprofessional in other aspects like finances and boundaries as well.

4. Do you plan to continue working remotely?

This question will help you set expectations, and you can decide if the organisation’s intentions match yours. If you’d like to indefinitely work from home but the interviewer says that the office may reopen soon, you can also cite your concerns in advance.

The COVID situation can’t (and won’t) be ignored by interviewers because it’s staring everyone in the face. By knowing how to navigate remote interviews and prepare for pandemic-related questions, you can set the right expectations and ace the interview. All the best!

Updated 30 September 2021

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Gauri has a Master's degree in English Literature and advanced certification in German. A dreamer, she is fascinated with the art of weaving words and works towards becoming a better storyteller each day. Talk to her about poetry, space, or mental health, and you'll have her full attention. When she's not reading or catching up on her favorite crime show, you'll find her journaling at a local cafe, whipping up delicious treats in her kitchen or unsuccessfully trying to resist that bottle of Nutella.

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