Guide: Answering 5 Pandemic-related Interview Questions

Trends, Advice

March 22, 2021

The pandemic has altered the job application process and the format of interviews that now take place virtually. Recruiters may also refocus interview questions to target COVID-19. What kind of questions can recent graduates expect during their job search?

 

1. What lessons have you learned during the pandemic?

This question aims to assess candidates’ emotional intelligence and resilience. 

Did you care for vulnerable family members or younger siblings? This shows how you may have taken on responsibilities. You could also discuss growth and personal development - have you learned anything new about yourself or how you cope with the pressure? What made you feel in control? Did you set yourself tangible goals for each day or week? 
 

What to avoid?

Try not to talk about the negatives and panic you felt during this time. Instead, focus on the positive lessons you’ve learned from the pandemic and what you will take forward both professionally and personally.


2. Have you learned any new skills while working/studying from home?

There are many ways you could answer this question. You could talk about the multitude of online resources available — have you taken advantage of any webinars, online courses, or other events? 

Aside from industry-relevant skills you may have gained, you could also use this question to mention any extra-curricular activities you’ve taken part in to demonstrate softer skills and give the interviewer an idea of what you are like outside of work. This is also a great opportunity to mention any volunteer work you’ve taken part in. Remember, in the post-COVID era, employers are keen on your soft skills just as much as your talent.


What to avoid?

Saying nothing! You can mention the skills you’ve picked up from working or studying remotely. Have you learned to use any new technologies or had to complete collaborative projects virtually? Give evidence of any skills you picked up — it was a big pivot for everyone, and we all have some takeaways from this time.


3. How did you spend your time during the lockdown?
Employers ask this question to test your crisis management skills, resilience, resourcefulness, and self-motivation. To answer this question, you can talk about how you maintained physical and mental well-being through exercise, yoga, and virtual networks. You can discuss how you stayed positive in a difficult situation - did you take part in any social events, training courses, or spend time creatively? Did you overcome any challenges and learn more about teamwork? All of these are examples of how you stayed focused and productive during a time of crisis. 


What to avoid?

Non-productive activities. Now is not the time to talk about how you watched all 9 seasons of The Office. This makes it seem like you haven’t done anything productive, and may hurt your prospects. Show recruiters that you show up — crisis and opportunities alike.

Because this question is so popular, we have chalked up a complete guide on navigating this question.


4. How would you communicate with colleagues in a remote setting?
For this question, be prepared to demonstrate how you’ve learnt or experimented with technologies such as Slack, Zoom, Google Docs and Microsoft Teams to collaborate with others virtually. Do you have any previous experience working remotely, such as an internship or part-time job? Employers will be looking for a proactive communication style to keep a structured level of interaction. It is easy for employees to become unresponsive when working from home, so try to demonstrate how you will remain an engaged and active member of the team. 


What to avoid?

Don’t underestimate yourself. Even if you’ve been working on solo tasks during the pandemic, you can still use this question as an opportunity to discuss how you’ve benefited from online learning, for example. Have you had any productive class discussions you could draw on? 


5. How do you stay motivated when working from home?

The work-life balance has drastically changed due to the pandemic. Remote work requires a significant amount of self-motivation. Employers are trying to find out how you have remained focused and driven in a time of uncertainty. 

For example, did you volunteer during the lockdown? You could use this as an example to illustrate how helping others is a source of motivation for you. Has exercise helped you to stay focused? Have you restructured your day if you work better at certain times? Whatever your answer, be prepared to show interviewers that you are ready to succeed while working remotely. 


What to avoid?

Avoid talking about any lack of motivation in depth. It was hard to be hopeful for a lot of us, but the recruiters will not favour your application. Show vulnerability selectively. 

 

Finally, be prepared to ask questions of the interviewers! Some good examples include:

  • What does the firm’s crisis management plan look like? 
  • How does it intend to keep staff safe when workers eventually return to the office?
  • What support could employees expect to receive when working from home?
  • How does the firm plan to support the professional development of its workers remotely?
  • Is the firm doing anything to ensure employees working from home don’t feel isolated?  


Good luck!

Written by Anu Jain 

Anu Jain is a freelance writer and a final year student at the London School of Economics and Political Science


Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

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