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Employment

The pandemic-era job interview questions to prepare for

So you’ve prepared for some of the more traditional job interview questions, but you might not have expected these Covid-related questions.

The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the world of work, likely forever. Its impact can be felt from the empty space around the once bustling water cooler to the questions asked in the interview room (or, increasingly, virtual interview room). 

Job interviews are often the most stressful part of bagging a new role, but if you prepare well, it’s likely you’ll be able to figure out roughly some of the questions you will be asked, and what your responses could be. 

But with the pandemic bringing about huge changes to the way we work, there may be a few questions you haven’t faced before. 

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The pandemic has “upended expectations around work and especially remote and flexible working, (so) interviewers are often asking several Covid-era questions that candidates should take the time to prepare for,” said Mikaela Elliott, senior manager of employer insights at Indeed. 

Jobs site Indeed asked employers what questions they have been asking candidates that weren’t on their list before the pandemic, and it turns out there are plenty.

These are the new questions candidates should prepare to face when heading to a job interview in 2022.

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1. Have you been vaccinated?

“Although vaccination status has become a more commonly asked question in the past 12 months, employers should have a good reason for needing to know, such as wanting to protect the safety of other staff”, advises Elliott. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says asking candidates during recruitment if they have had the vaccine may be justified in certain sectors and job roles where there is a particular health and safety exposure, but, generally, medical information is sensitive data that may be deemed inappropriate to ask in an interview as employers should avoid asking prospective employees health-related questions.

“Whilst it may be inappropriate to ask prospective employees about their testing and vaccination status, employers can justify processing any data relating to vaccination or testing of existing employees provided it is relevant to the role and is in line with the data protection requirements below.

Employers can ask employees for their vaccination status, however an employer must have a reason for requesting it. The reasons must be “clear, necessary, and transparent” says the Information Commissioner’s Office. If an employer can’t specify a use for the information, such as assessing health and safety risks, they are unlikely to be able to justify collecting it.

A person’s Covid status is sensitive personal health data so employers would need to comply with data protection rules if collecting it. 

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2. What type of flexible/ hybrid working are you seeking?

Covid-19 looks to have changed the work landscape for good with a full-time return to offices set to be ditched in favour of hybrid working. Hybrid working is a branch of flexible working that has become prevalent during the pandemic. It means a combination of working from your usual place of work and working remotely. 

Employees will soon have the right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day in a job under new government proposals, though bosses can still reject these requests. 

3. How many days would you like to work from home?

Many companies are having to work hard to get people back to the office, with Google spending £730 million to make their UK offices more inviting. Goldman Sachs tried to bring all staff back to the office in June, but this was delayed by further restrictions, with the group’s chief exec calling home working an “aberration”.

“If you are not asked about flexible working during the interview, but it is something that is important to you, you can ask your interviewer about how the company prioritises work-life balance and whether it has any flexible working arrangements. This will help you decide whether the company is a good match for you,” said ​Elliott.

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4. How would you feel about not having day to day, face to face contact with colleagues?

As many people have transitioned to working more from home, people are having to deal with less face-to-face interaction with colleagues and managers. For some, this can pose challenges in discussing ideas or receiving feedback. Try to be honest about your needs or preferences from a manager, as well as your abilities when it comes to managing your own time and workload. 

5. Are you comfortable with your home working set-up?

This question hints to an employers’ desire to understand, and accommodate, candidates’ preferences for their working environment. 

6. What have been your experiences of the pandemic?

This is a particularly broad question, which may be seeking to get some context on why you are currently applying. Maybe you were on furlough or were made redundant, or you might have retrained and are seeking to move into a new sector.

You should explain how these circumstances or events have brought you to your current situation, but remember to put a positive spin on them explaining why they make you well suited for the position you are interviewing for. 

7. How has Covid-19 affected you?

Similar to question six, this is your opportunity to explain current circumstances and flexible working requirements, or to highlight how the pandemic has built your character, attitude or outlook.  

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