Interviewing After the Pandemic
We can all agree that the world was flipped upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic. But how has it affected your next round of job searching? Will the pandemic have a positive or negative effect on the way you take the next step in your career?
2020 was a big year for technological advancements (in fact it was a necessity). As you were quarantining, you relied on your electronic devices to work, communicate, or keep yourself entertained. Coincidentally, at the same time, so were businesses and organizations. Employees brought work home and took care of it remotely, leaving offices empty. This allowed the internet to reach its current, full potential.
All meetings, including job interviews, were conducted via virtual call-in through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc. Job interviews may continue being conducted virtually for a while (or even permanently) depending on the employer and how likely they are to accommodate candidates that would rather interview virtually.
Aside from virtual calls and meetings, people were connecting through social media. Social media was being used more than ever to connect with friends and to keep people entertained. It’s also increasingly possible to utilize social media to search for your next career. Here’s a way to take advantage of social media in your job search:
LinkedIn is an excellent communication and networking tool. Let’s say you found a job opening that you really liked. You are capable of logging into LinkedIn and searching for that organization’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or hiring manager and request to connect with them. Additionally, you can attach a message to your connection invite, introducing yourself directly and explaining why you are interested in both the role and the company. This allows you to give your elevator pitch via LinkedIn direct messaging, ensuring that they see your name, face, story, motive, and profile resume before they even look at your competition’s online application!
Covid-19 has also undoubtedly affected the average personal threshold for what we perceive as optimal cleanliness. Job seekers and employers alike have become more cautious of how they operate. Job seekers have become more attentive to the details of the job and office descriptions, looking to see if jobs are remote, the pay that could help them get out of a possible financial hole, or the Covid-19 policies that the organization has in place. Employers are likely to have a greater incentive to hire candidates that are vaccinated or at least open to offices with strict codes of conduct regarding Covid-19 safety.
The CDC has made some updates to its original Covid-19 safety precautions. Originally, it was recommended to wear a face-covering (a.k.a. masks) and say at least six feet apart. But recently, they have stated that it is okay to not wear a mask and begin attending large social gatherings again if you are vaccinated.
The job description may or may not disclose any information on how the hiring organization facilitates its own Covid safety policies; whether it is sticking with the CDC’s current policies or if it wants to take as many precautions as possible. Either way, it is better to be safe than sorry and do your best to prepare yourself for all safety measures. If the interview is agreed to be in person, wear a mask when you first get there to demonstrate your readiness to comply with any CDC guidelines. If the hiring manager says it is ok to take the mask off, it is your call from there based on how comfortable you are.
If you have a history of drawing blanks when asked, “Do you have any questions for us,” you now have a topic to discuss. Questions regarding office safety procedures, job security, and paid sick leave are more relevant than ever and deserve attention during your interview. For example, you could ask:
- “How did your organization initially respond to the Covid-19 outbreak?”
- “What is your plan of action when one of your “on-site” employees alerts you that they have tested positive for Covid-19?”
- “Will this be a remote position? If so, what can I do to better integrate myself into the work environment?”
- “These are uncertain times because of the economy. Can you tell me about the job security that I would have in this role?”
- “What did you do for your employees to help them cope with such a fast and dramatic transition during the pandemic (to either remote work or the original CDC guidelines in the workplace)?”
Even prior to the pandemic, employers have always wanted to ensure smooth sailing within their organization. It is likely that they will also have a set of questions for you during your interview regarding Covid. You should expect them to ask questions relating to how you have been handling the pandemic and what precautions you have and will take. This will show them how you problem solve, manage all aspects of your life, and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Questions that employers could ask you may include:
- “Are you vaccinated? /Do you have Covid-19 symptoms today?” (The latter would be asked if partaking in an on-site interview)
- “Did the pandemic affect your career goal? If so, how did it change?”
- “Did you have to work remotely at your last job? If so, how did you manage your responsibilities?”
- “If you worked remotely or were unemployed, how did you take advantage of your extra time?”
- “Did you teach yourself any new skills?”
- “Did you take up any new hobbies?”
- “Did you get involved with the community?”
Disclaimer: It is unethical for employers to ask questions about or make hiring decisions based on your personal life. So, your interviewer may not bring up any of those topics. Mentioning something like reconnecting with your family or working on any problems related to your health would be something you disclose voluntarily.
Although there are new ways to go about interviewing after the pandemic, proper interviewing etiquette is still in play. After your interview is over, make sure you send a thank-you note to your interviewer via email (or LinkedIn if that is where you connected and set up the interview). This allows them to get one last good first impression of you and a chance to put you ahead of the competition more than you might already be.
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