If you find yourself interviewing for a new role during COVID-19, you will most likely be doing so virtually. Globally we have all witnessed our work environments be required to drastically adapt in response to the pandemic. Protecting the health and safety of the employees has been one priority, but in many cases, a change in business strategy has also been imperative to protect the future of companies and the job security of their employees. The job market has remained active (albeit slowing down over April/May) and now as it continues to pick back up, we’re seeing more interviews taking place. The format may have slightly changed, so do prepare for a telephone or webcam interview to take place, and perhaps even remote onboarding if you are successful.
Congratulations on securing yourself an interview! Like any interview process, this is your opportunity to ask those vital questions to ensure you are moving to a company with a culture aligned to yours and a job that offers you a great career.
We recommend that you prepare in advance, do your research on the company, and think about what’s important to you. Before an interview, you should prepare a few questions to evaluate a future employer’s approach to the current climate. By asking those questions which are important to you, you’ll Gain a deeper understanding of your potential future employer and how they operate.
Recently we’ve seen more and more people ask about an employer’s response to the pandemic. Below we have listed some examples of questions that you could ask a potential employer.
What safety procedures do you have in place for working on-site?
Whilst some companies have committed to continuing remote working for the foreseeable future, others have already begun returning to the office at fulltime basis or with rotating schedules. Ask about the company’s safety plan, so that you know what you will be walking into, should you accept an offer. To fully address this issue, you may also like to go further and be more specific with questions such as:
- How are you following the government guidelines/ enforcing social distancing?
- What happens if I or a colleague have symptoms? If I (or someone) test positive for Corona Virus, how will you handle this?
How has your business strategy changed in response to COVID-19? How will that continue to impact the business in the long run?
Learn more about the challenges the organisation is currently facing. Depending on the industry, companies right now will either be combatting a decline in business or responding to opportunities for growth and expansion. At this time, it’s important to gauge the stability of the company and this new role. Insight into how they intend to drive business and handle budgets indicates how they prioritise the livelihoods of their workforce.
Once you are satisfied with your interviewer’s response you can then drive this inquiry deeper by asking; ‘How will this role contribute towards these plans and tackle your challenges?’. Since the company is hiring at this time, they have probably determined that this role is imperative in their future plans. This not only shows the interviewer that you are already considering how you can positively contribute to the whole company but will help you prepare for a second stage interview. It also gives you a heads up of what to expect, should you land the job.
Will I have the option to work remotely? And how might that affect my future career opportunities should I do this?
It is best to get a good understanding of how your manager feels about their team working from home, particularly if you’re not yet comfortable with a full return to a shared working space. Find out now if your future boss isn’t in favour of you working remotely. If a personal decision to work remotely may affect your smooth & swift transition into the role and with your new team, you need to be alerted to this as you move forward with your application. If your living arrangements and personal safety dictate that you should remain at home, make sure this will not lead to you being overlooked or forgotten about for any opportunities for collaboration and career growth.
How will I be onboarded? Is there a comms plan in place for how the team works together remotely?
Here you should also focus on finding out more about how your employer will onboard you into the company. You do not need to know the entire logistics but getting a good idea of what’s to come is key, understanding how the team works together and communicates is important. Are there routine and fixed scheduled meetings, to allow for open pathways of communication? How often will you have meetings with your superiors and a chance to get some feedback on your progress? Ask your future supervisor how they prefer to keep in touch with their team and how they will ensure that you all feel connected. You’ll want to know who is going to be available to answer any questions and provide guidance, and how often that will be.
Employers will have implemented a new virtual onboarding plan, which will fully introduce you to your new organisation and colleagues.
What lessons has your company learned from COVID?
Transparency from employers is key right now and you should want to know how responsive and agile this organisation is in reaction to a crisis. Try to get a good sense of how this employer prepared for the effects of COVID and how they will implement these findings to further futureproof their plans. This could be a great test to see how open the company is to admitting faults, and how flexibly they are to change plans and react quickly. You may also get to suss out how the seniors within the company learn from the mistakes they make.
Have you laid off any employees as a result of the crisis? If so, how did you support them afterwards?
Find out what the businesses strategy is, why are they hiring you and perhaps making other teams redundant? This question will help you understand if the company has seen a shift in strategy and give the employer a chance to talk this through.
It also shows how seriously a company takes its responsibility for its employees. The treatment of redundant team members is a revealing signal of an organisation’s true values. Besides severance pay, what tools have the employer equipped laid-off employees with to help them as they find new positions? Have they continued to engage with these past employees? Did they extend any of their benefits or supply them with any useful resources? Showing this sort of concern for its people is the difference between a good company and a great one.
You should always equip yourself with the knowledge of the strategy that your possible new employer is planning to pursue. To approach this, we advise that you have some of these suggested questions to hand. Not only will you get a stronger sense of the organisations future, but having the initiative to ask these questions will also display to your interviewer that you are a problem-solver, who will be a proactive and valuable asset to their team.
During your interview process, it’s important to remember that Hamlyn Williams will be here to guide and support you. Equipped with our expert knowledge of our industries and our great relationships with our clients, we can help you identify the questions that are important to you. Since we can ask these questions beforehand, we can also assist in streamlining the entire process. Should you like to receive any further advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with one of our market experts.