Job interviews very often follow a formula, regardless of industry. They include a large number of common questions that are designed to gain insight into the character and suitability of the interviewee. Questions such as: “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?”, “What has been your toughest career challenge?”, “What are your major achievements?” and “Where do you see your career in 5-10 years’ time?” are so commonplace that we can all cite them off the top of our heads.
Of course, it’s highly beneficial for candidates to know in advance what kind of questions they can expect to be asked in an interview. It helps with preparation and can lessen nervousness.
We’re all experiencing a changed world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interview questions and formats have been shaped by the new employer landscape in which remote working (and interviewing) have dramatically increased. Candidates are still being asked the common interview questions but a few more have become prevalent too.
1. How many days a week do you expect to work from home?
Prior to COVID, working from home full-time wasn’t generally a realistic expectation. Now that both employers and employees have seen that it’s possible, many of us believe we should be able to maintain working from home for up to three days a week.
When considering this question, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of what your pre-pandemic arrangement was, while at the same time reflecting on what your ideal situation would be moving forward. It’s also important to consider what is reasonable for the particular workplace that’s interviewing you. Fortunately, a large number of companies have changed their policies and now have greater flexibility around working arrangements than ever before – this is expected to continue.
2. How have you maintained and built professional relationships while working remotely?
It’s not surprising that employers are seeking reassurance around how efficient and effective employees have been while working remotely. When staff are physically isolated from one another, it presents challenges to the development of professional relationships. Make sure you indicate the ways you’ve managed to adapt to and flourish while working remotely.
If your interview is being conducted over video conference (as so many have been over the past year and a half) then it’s a good chance to show that you’re comfortable and capable with the medium. Very few of us prefer video conferencing to real life meetings, but if you’re professional and engaging over video it can be a good sign of how well you’ve adapted to the times.
3. How have you dealt with stress during the COVID-era?
This question is less about discussing the stressful elements of living through a global pandemic and more to do with sharing a little about yourself and your resilience. Perhaps you’ve mastered baking banana bread, host regular trivia nights with your friends or have taken up jogging. It’s important to be honest but keep in mind that your answer is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to cope when things get hard.
4. Have you received a COVID-19 Vaccination?
This question will make some people very uncomfortable. However, the majority of eligible Australians have been or plan to be vaccinated. So, is it appropriate for employers to ask this question? The privacy act would ordinarily have prevented employees from having to declare their vaccination status. Now, if employers are able to justify that your vaccination status is reasonably necessary to workplace function or activities (eg. preventing COVID-19) then it becomes an appropriate question.
We’ve seen this in action this week. With face-to-face learning set to resume on October 25, teachers in NSW have been given a deadline of November 8th to be vaccinated.