Core interviews have been pretty consistent since the introduction of behavior-based interview questions a couple of decades ago. The behavior-based trend was fairly radical, since it led to a great emphasis on examples, the past, and a conversational tone, compared to what had been seen in the past.

COVID-19 has had its impact on interviewing, just like it has factored into so many other things in life. For many, the pandemic has altered some of the skills, abilities, or knowledge needed so Hiring Managers have had to adjust accordingly to make sure they hire the best people.

In most workplaces, employees have gone back to the facility in some form, either full-time or working some hybrid schedule with remote. There are still, however, many situations where part of a work team will not physically be collaborating with their Manager on a daily basis. Hiring Managers that have remote or hybrid employees, must evaluate candidates for their ability to work independently and to complete the most critical items each day. This may result in deeper probing regarding the structure of your workday and your method to staying organized and productive. Questions you may be asked are “What is your time management system?” “How do you plan your day?”, or “When do you know you had a productive workday?”

Your communication style may also be evaluated differently in the COVID-19 world. There are less in-person discussions, and more being done either by e-mail, chat, or video conference. Hiring Managers need to make sure you have the written communication skills to accomplish what is needed in a professional and collaborative way. For the assessor, this is probably less about a specific interview question, and more about observing how you communicate back and forth during the recruitment process. Similarly, the Hiring Manager will watch how you conduct yourself on the video conference, such as do you communicate clearly, look into camera, etc.  You should expect to be asked about your experience using MS Teams or Zoom. You may also be asked about a time when you had an e-mail misinterpreted and how was the issue resolved in a satisfactory manner.

If there is one definite result of the pandemic, then working in the unknown has to be it. On a daily basis, all of us faced previously unseen scenarios and the need to understand, accept, and adjust to daily changes. Working in this “gray” area now has become a critical skill expected of employees. Employees may still ask questions to understand the “why,” but the expectation of flexibility has gone up considerably. This flexibility goes beyond just adjusting to a COVID-19 related policy change, but also how resourceful you are in being able to get work done while facing changing variables. In other words, you may be asked about a time when you were challenged with a work roadblock and needed to go to “Plan B” in order to service a client. Another question you may be asked is “What did you learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?”  Everyone learned something about the adversity being faced, either about yourself or something that made you a more productive employee.

At this point, we probably have all heard of the “great resignation” which, in essence, is a name for how transient workers have tended to be during the pandemic. Hiring Managers will still go through your work history and ask for your reasons for leaving various stops in your employment. Where there probably is some change that you will see, however, is a greater probe for the reasons you left and what could have caused you to stay. The shift is more of an acceptance of your leaving, and a need to greater understand how, if you accept this job, can the prospective employer keep you for an extended period. It is traditional for the candidate to ask about career progression, but in the pandemic-world, you are more likely to be asked about what you are seeking in your career and the timetable.

Finally, of course, you may be asked at some point in the process, questions regarding shots, boosters, etc. that you never thought would occur. Be clear regarding any shot expectation, pandemic related travel policy, and the continuation of remote or hybrid work arrangements (if applicable). Don’t accept any position when you still have open items on your mind that are COVID-19 related.  So, you should ask any COVID-19 questions that are on your mind. While companies may not have all the answers, they tend to be very understanding and patient with those who do have pandemic related questions.

The pandemic has been a game changer for all of us. It makes perfect sense then that when we started to reach some type of normalcy that COVID-19 would be a factor in the questions asked of job seekers during an interview. A savvy job seeker will prepare for more than the traditional behavior-based interview questions expected and assume that some of the discussion will be pandemic influenced.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein


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