Life has changed since COVID-19 — and so have some interview questions.
There's no doubt about it: COVID-19 has drastically changed nearly every facet of life, including the job interview process.
Sure, obviously many hiring managers have moved online to a Zoom job interview format. But even more, a recent survey of job recruiters revealed a shift in job interview questions they're asking candidates.
The survey found many recruiters are asking more skills-based questions; they want to know candidates have continued to grow and pick up new skills — even during COVID-19. This might mean adapting to the virtual work environment, adding online certifications to your resume, or learning new in-demand skills online.
If you have an upcoming job interview, use these insights — directly from the recruiters' mouths — to help you prepare.
What recruiters are asking job candidates in light of COVID-19
So what exactly do recruiters and interviewers want to know about you these days? Of course, recruiters will ask you some of the classic interview questions, but you should also be prepared to answer a few more questions about how you've adapted to the “new normal,” as well as any skills you've picked up along the way.
Here are the new interview questions recruiters are adding to their roster:
1. During the pandemic, what new skills have you gained?
This is one of the top technical interview questions recruiters are asking in light of COVID-19. With the majority of the population suddenly spending more time at home, interviewers want to know what steps you've taken to advance your skills.
When answering this question, you'll want to remain truthful. If you've taken any online courses or completed any online certifications, certainly highlight those. Recruiters will love knowing you've taken steps to continue your education.
If you haven't learned a new skill in the traditional sense, don't worry. You can talk about what you've done to succeed while working on a remote team — what new soft or hard skills you've picked up to help you adapt.
Did you learn and implement a new project-management tool to keep your team on task? Did you teach yourself how to do keyword research and write SEO articles? Picking up a new skill doesn't have to result from taking an online class, so think about all the work you've done these past several months.
2. How has working from home been these past several months?
This might sound like a trick question, but it's really not; recruiters genuinely just want to know how you're coping with working from home. This might even be a question they ask to open the interview.
Now, while you don't want to lead with doom and gloom, you're welcome to be honest. You can talk about the upsides of working from home (no commute! walks at lunch! comfy clothes!), but you can also mention a few of the challenges you've encountered and steps you've taken to adjust.
Ultimately, it's important to keep this answer positive, but it's also totally OK to be honest. Everyone has faced challenges working from home — including the recruiter you're interviewing with. You might even find some common ground with them.
3. How have you handled distractions while working from home?
You can expect recruiters to ask about specific challenges you've encountered while working from home. Perhaps the most universal challenge? Distractions.
Working with a spouse or roommate around is tough, and if you have kids, you know. Even taking Sparky out for his routine walks can pose as a distraction. And sometimes you just can't focus until you make the bed, do laundry, empty the dishwasher, and vacuum your entire home.
Whatever it is, this is your chance to show a recruiter how you've managed to power through these distractions. Have you had to establish new routines? Invest in noise-canceling headphones? Write out specific to-do lists each morning?
Again, it's OK to be candid with your answer. A recruiter simply wants to see you've acquired the skills you need to thrive in a remote work environment.
4. You're in a meeting, and your internet cuts out. What do you do?
This is similar in nature to the previous interview question, and it's a classic type of behavioral interview question. A recruiter wants to know that you can overcome certain challenges when working from home.
Many remote workers have actually had to face this challenge, so just talk about what you did if applicable. If you haven't, think about how you would proactively remedy this problem. This is your chance to highlight your ability to act fast and adapt. From hopping on the meeting through your phone or you Slacking your co-workers to let them know you need to reschedule, there are plenty of solutions to show the recruiter you can handle it.
5. If laid off, what have you done to stay busy?
At this point in the pandemic, so many people are unemployed. If a recruiter knows this, they might ask you how you've kept busy.
Remember, be honest; maybe you filled your days by helping your kids with Zoom school — which is totally realistic and OK. Maybe you opened an Etsy shop to sell your art so you can make some extra money, or you decided to enroll in an online data analytics course.
Essentially, this is just another opportunity to share a little more about yourself with the recruiter and show them how you've managed to stay proactive during these trying times.
6. How have you supported your team while being remote?
If you're still employed and weren't part of a remote team before the pandemic, a recruiter might want to know what you've done to help support your team or company in this new role. Think about any challenges your team faced at the onset of the pandemic and how you helped solve them.
For instance, maybe everyone was struggling to manage their workloads, so you helped implement a new, more flexible workflow that actually increased productivity. Talk about what this looked like and how it helped the team. When possible, use numbers to showcase the results.
Another example could be you felt the team becoming more and more distant, so you implemented a new weekly check-in. This is just a quick 15-minute breather before lunch that allows you all to catch up and see each other's faces. This shows you're a strong leader and have the ability to bring people together — even when working remotely.
COVID-19 has obviously changed the way we live and work, so don't be surprised if a recruiter asks you specific questions about how you've navigated the pandemic and how you continued to grow.
The key to answering all these questions is honesty. Sure, it'd be awesome if you could tell a recruiter you taught yourself how to code during the pandemic, but that's just not realistic for everyone, so use this as an opportunity to show them your ability to adapt — no matter what's thrown your way.
If you want even more of a leg up going into your next job interview, chat with the interviewing pros at TopInterview.