Living and working in the midst of a pandemic has affected everyone, which is why it's so important to adapt your interview questions accordingly. Here are 8 questions to consider adding to your interviews for the foreseeable future.
1. What would you do if there were a tech issue that couldn't be resolved remotely right away and you couldn't move forward with one specific project?
What it uncovers: Working in a remote environment, or just in a time of general widespread uncertainty, it's important to know if you're interviewing a candidate that has the ability to shift course quickly without getting too bogged down by a temporary obstacle. Look for a response that indicates that the person you're speaking with would keep their cool and move on to the next most pressing task.
Related: The Ultimate Screening Checklist
2. Tell me about how you respond when your internet is down and you're having an issue communicating or dialing in to a meeting?
What it uncovers: In addition to probing about whether the candidate you're speaking with would keep calm in an unideal situation, you'll surface some telling details about their communication style. Do they say they'll blast an email to everyone on the meeting list? Or will they reach out directly to the host letting them know they're looking for a workaround? There's not necessarily one right answer, but their response may give you insight into how successfully they'll integrate into the larger team.
3. What is your general way of handling interruptions when working remotely? How do you decide whether to communicate broadly with your team about your availability?
What it uncovers: From small distractions like groceries being delivered to big ones like kids stranded at home because camp or school has been canceled, distractions are a big reality in the age of COVID. What matters is that colleagues manage them in a way that is as graceful and unobtrusive as possible without just "going dark." Look for a response indicating that they find it important to communicate any absences or interruptions without sounding the alarm and sending an OOO email to the entire company. You'll know what level of transparency is best for your team. And if your interviewee is unsure, this is a great time to chat about general expectations and get a sense of whether that aligns with your candidate's tendencies.
Related: How to Interview for Culture Fit
4. Tell me about how you're feeling given the uncertainty of these times. How do you handle the stress we've all been experiencing? And where could you improve?
What it uncovers: There is no shame in experiencing stress given the global pandemic. By recognizing that we've all been experiencing it when you pose the question, you give permission to address that reality. While some people are truly feeling the fallout more intensely than others, everyone has had to develop coping mechanisms. Having a frank conversation about what those are tells you a lot about how your candidate handles stress. Are they methodical and disciplined about keeping stress at bay? Or are they more likely to let it build, then find a release? Again, there's no right or wrong answer, but how they articulate their approach will be telling.
Read more: What Not to Ask: Illegal Interview Questions
5. If the work is remote: What is your home office situation like? Is there anything you might need to be better situated?
What it uncovers: Potential employers have every right to ask about a candidate's home working environment. There may be items you'll provide upon hire, but network access, internet signal, etc., are location dependent in some cases. Of course, most remote workers won't have a perfect at-home setup, but asking this question uncovers whether they've been creative in arranging an ergonomic low-distraction work space that will allow them to functionally and efficiently do their work.
6. If the work requires travel: How do you feel about air travel and local travel in your area now? What would it take for you to feel comfortable going forward?
What it uncovers: Don't rely on assumptions about what kind of travel will or will not be expected pre-vaccine. Your job description might specify that the role requires 2 weeks on the road per month, but a candidate could assume that expectation is on hold until there's a vaccine. Be sure to address exactly what is required in the way of travel right away as well as what will be expected as states and countries open up for business. Talk specifically about what it would take for your candidate to feel comfortable traveling again in the future.
Read more: How To Screen For Retention Checklist
7. What things do you think are important to maintain a positive working relationship with colleagues? How do you nurture those relationships from a distance?
What it uncovers: Asking this open ended question is a great way to assess whether your candidate has a well-developed emotional quotient (EQ). There's no right or wrong answer, but you'll know how well-calibrated your interviewee is for a highly collaborative, cross-functional role. Likewise, you'll know if your candidate is better suited for an individual contributor role. Adding the specific question about nurturing relationships from a distance will tell you whether this person knows how to adapt in a remote environment if that's relevant to the role.
8. How do you unplug at the end of each day to manage workload and avoid burnout?
What it uncovers: With so many people around the world working from home in the age of COVID, we've all had to learn quickly how to shift gears between working and relaxing - without the commute time for decompressing. Many months into quarantine, it's important that any potential hire has fine tuned how they wind down at the end of the day. It's just as important to their health and happiness in their personal lives as it is to their ability to show up recharged and engaged each morning.
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