eQuidPro: 3 Questions That Companies Should Be Ready For During Job Interviews After Coronavirus

  • Home
  • Guest Blogs
  • eQuidPro: 3 Questions That Companies Should Be Ready For During Job Interviews After Coronavirus

Executive Summary

  • Companies need to be prepared to handle new questions that will arise during the recruitment process in a post-pandemic world.
  • Each difficult question in the interview process provides an opportunity for the employer to set itself apart.
  • We anticipate 3 specific questions that candidates will be asking that are directly related to the coronavirus.
  • Millennials are sensitive to ethical and social issues and may be most at-risk of losing interest in a company because of their coronavirus response.
  • Empathy, empowerment, and honesty will prove to be the key factors in effectively handling these questions and winning your candidate.

To say that the spread of the coronavirus has impacted the world would be an understatement. Healthcare workers are on high-alert, entire populations are being asked to stay inside their homes, and many businesses are faced with the possibility that their operations may never be the same.

We have seen the devastating effects of the coronavirus on economies of the world. This has invariably led to a mass exodus of jobs in the workforce across the globe. In recent weeks, the job market has been growing in some countries – an encouraging trend. However, this rise in jobs does not come without difficult recruitment changes.

  • What will the job interview in a pandemic and post-pandemic world look like?
  • What should hiring managers and recruiters alike anticipate?
  • How will candidates change?
  • What questions will prospective hires be asking, or perhaps even be demanding answers to, given the context of the coronavirus?

This article suggests 3 questions that companies should be ready for during job interviews because of the coronavirus. We’ll also include a rationale for each question along with a recommendation you can use when coming up with how to respond.

  1. “What is your work from home policy?”

Rationale:  Candidates will know that many workplaces were forced to adapt and take on a work from home model and may come to expect this option from their employers in the future. If not immediately, then after their probation period. The business world even before the pandemic has been trending this way. Remote technology, cloud-based project management tools, and mobile technology integration has made the need to come into the office to get work done a near relic of the past. Considering this trend, many industries have slowly been taking advantage of the WFH option as an employee perk. The WFH phenomenon has been changing employee expectations and how they view the prospect of flexibility in a job.

What do the numbers say?

  • 61% of employees have considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility1
  • 97% of employees say job flexibility would have a huge improvement or positive impact on their overall quality of life2
  • 65% of workers believe that they would be more productive in a home office3

The coronavirus pandemic, however, is sure to boost work from home expectations as companies have shown that it is now possible to keep operations remotely running at near max capacity. Of course, there are sizeable downsides to a WFH workforce: jeopardizing workplace culture, blurring the lines between work and personal life, home office setups that lack the same robust technological capabilities of a corporate office, etc. That being said, it is undeniable that your future prospects will be wondering how much flexibility is built into the job role.

Recommendation
Empathize with the question.

Is there anyone who would say no to better work-life balance?

It may be tempting to consider this question to be a red flag, identifying your candidate as someone more interested in what they give versus what they get, but this is simply not a fair assumption to make. Understand that behind the inquiry is a person who wants to spend less time in traffic, say yes to their hobbies, and spend more time with their families. Make sure your candidate feels understood when they ask about the work from home policy. Having your candidate feel understood will mitigate the harmful effects of not being able to deliver a WFH policy that they may be expecting. Then, of course, you must share what your policy is and advise of any other steps your organization is taking to promote work-life balance. Work-life balance is the objective of a WFH policy.

Here are examples of what not to do vs. what to do when this question is raised:

Scenario A
Candidate: “I am curious about flexibility in the role. What is your work from home policy?”
Interviewer: “We don’t offer one at this time unfortunately. It is something we may consider in the future.”

vs.

Scenario B
Candidate: “I am curious about flexibility in the role. What is your work from home policy?”
Interviewer: “We are firm believers in building an employee environment that promotes work-life balance. It is so important for our staff to know that we are people too and we understand the need for flexibility. At this time, our operations are not configured in a way that makes work from home possible. We are currently exploring the possibility of work from home for our employees but we’re just not there yet. However, we do have a flex-time policy where staff can bank hours and redeem them as lieu days that don’t count towards their vacation time.”

Which one sounds better? In both examples, there is no work from home policy available to employees. However, in Scenario A, the candidate leaves the interview largely unsatisfied. In Scenario B, the company looks like a champion for employee work-life balance.

  1. “What tools and processes do you use for effective organizational communication?”

Rationale:  One of the most challenging elements of any organization’s operations is ensuring effective communication across its departments and throughout the company’s hierarchy. This is true even during business-as-usual times but accentuated during crisis. Interdepartmental dialogue and active collaboration throughout the organizational structure can reduce the amount of time that a worker finds themselves searching for an answer. It also helps forge stronger comradery among employees. There are number of workplace tools that allow for broad-spread communication in a company like email blasts, newsletters, an intranet homepage, and the emergence of digital messaging tools in the form of chatbots or instant messaging. There are worries about the use of IM killing productivity, but largely unfounded in research on the subject. The benefits of IM can also increase overall employee engagement, which leads to higher productivity in the long-term. All of that being said, what the coronavirus crisis has done to organizational communication is expose some of its vulnerabilities and your candidates will be wondering what you do to make sure that the processes in place will mitigate the risk of miscommunication.

Let’s have a look at some of the research related to organizational communication & employee engagement:

  • Engaged employees are 44% more productive than satisfied employees and 73% more productive than unengaged employees4
  • Use of IM and interactivity only accounts for 6% of all work interruptions5, dispelling the myth that IM is a massive destroyer of employee productivity
  • Internal communication management is strongly linked with employee engagement and good employee communication strongly influences employee willingness to speak positively on behalf of the organization6

Put simply: communication is just as important to employees as it is to management.

Recommendation
Use this as an opportunity to make your candidate feel empowered.

It can be tempting to describe the features of your communication technology to answer this question, but it would be a missed opportunity. While it may be comforting for a candidate to know that the tools that you use are familiar to them, what’s more important is that you describe how the tool is used and why it is used that way. In truth, nobody cares that you use Slack, what they want to know is what can use it for once they login for the first time.

Here are examples of what not to do vs. what to do when this question is raised:

Scenario A
Candidate: What tools and processes do you use for effective organizational communication?
Interviewer: We’ve been using Slack for about 2 years and our employees love it. We also do most of our more formal messaging through Outlook – internal newsletters, scheduling meetings – things like that.

vs.

Scenario B
Candidate: What tools and processes do you use for effective organizational communication?
Interviewer: We fully embrace communication as a powerful tool for our employees. Whether it’s done horizontally or vertically, we want all of our employees to know that their voices can be heard and we stop at nothing to empower that ability. We have an instant messaging tool for quicker, less formal scenarios like collaborating with your immediate team. This same tool has the entire corporate directory built into-it. For more formal communication like scheduling meetings or mass notifications, the convention has been to use email first and have follow ups from your more immediate leadership.

Which one sounds better?

For a more information about a nuanced approach to corporate instant messaging, we encourage you to check out an article released by the Harvard Business Review in March of 2020 (https://hbr.org/2020/03/best-practices-for-instant-messaging-at-work). It includes embracing popular digital tools, setting ground rules for engagement, but also recognizing that IM is not the only communication modality, but one of many in the workplace.

  1. “How did you and your organization handle the coronavirus pandemic?”

Rationale:  Prospective candidates now have a way to find out about the employer’s character by simply asking them how they responded to the outbreaks and budding shutdowns. Did they act quickly? Did they do everything they could to make sure employees were well taken care of? Did they prioritize safety? In a digital, social media world, it is easier than ever for employees to anonymously voice their discontent about the mishandling of the crisis. Because of its impact, the pandemic resonates quite deeply on a personal level even for the most staunch professionals. A candidate may interpret an organization’s handling of the pandemic as a peak-behind-the-curtain of the company’s character. For newer generations of workers, their assessment of a company’s ethical practices will directly influence whether they want to work there or not.

Let’s have a look at some of the numbers:

  • A survey of over 2,000 workers found that 42% of all workers and 62% of millennials want to work for an organization they feel has a positive impact on the world7
    • The same survey found that half of respondents would prefer working for this type of organization over a less positive alternative with a higher salary8
  • A different study showed that 64% of millennials said that they wouldn’t take a job at a company that wasn’t socially responsible9

Credible research about employee feelings toward companies based on the coronavirus is understandably hard to come by at this time, so the info above is designed to set the context for how we can assume the coronavirus, and a company’s response to it, may impact corporate ability to attract talent. At the very least, a poorly received pandemic response will provide a candidate a potential reason to lose interest in a job or choose an alternate offer if all else is equal. The link between ethical conduct and pandemic response is an easy one to make.

At its most basic, a candidate will consider a company’s actions in one of two ways:
Did it help the employees?
or
Did it hurt the employees?

That’s really what it boils down to.

Recommendation
Be honest and admit if you were slow to respond. Reassure the candidate that your organization did the best that it could and let them know what you learned in the process.

The crisis is a confusing time for everyone, and your candidates will appreciate a genuine response to this one. Perhaps there are great decisions that you can boast about like closing your doors before it was mandated. Maybe you can share how your company donated a sum of money to the development of masks and PPE. It is also entirely possible that your organization was slow to respond and would have done things differently if given the opportunity. Instead of skirting around your fumble, address it straight on but with the appropriate context and declaration of how it helped your organization better prepare for the future.

Let’s once again review 2 possible scenarios. This time, it will be in the context of an organization that did not take any particularly noteworthy action in their pandemic response.

Scenario A
Candidate: How did you and your organization handle the coronavirus pandemic?
Interviewer: Well we closed our doors when it was mandated, and it was a tough time for everyone in the organization. We took most of our direction from the government and informed our employees of every change as the situation was evolving.

vs.

Scenario B
Candidate: How did you and your organization handle the coronavirus pandemic?
Interviewer: This is an excellent question and one that we have thought about deeply since the initial stages of the pandemic. In truth, it was such an unprecedented situation that it was difficult to make any decision that was not clearly outlined in government mandates. Our senior leadership had constant meetings about possible actions, and many were taken, but mostly through the guidance provided at the local and federal level. What we can say is that we documented every discussion and decision that was made during the response and have given our senior leadership the task of compiling an internal crisis management plan that would better prepare us for the future. We started and ended each of our discussions with strong consideration for our employees and in many instances, we felt that following the instructions of the government was ultimately what was best for our workers and carried the least amount of risk to their livelihoods.

As you can see, Scenario B acknowledges the difficulty of the situation while also providing reassurance that the actions taken were ultimately done in the interest of supporting their employees.

Conclusion
The companies that choose to prepare for these tough questions will be better primed to handle them. The 3 questions shared here comprise only a small sample of what recruitment teams and employers should expect to hear from their candidates going forward.

Are you prepared for recruitment in a post-pandemic world? Now is as good a time as any to start planning.

About eQuidPro
eQuidPro is a revolutionary approach to the employer/agency process of talent sourcing and recruitment.

We are a reverse auction format recruitment SaaS, delivering quality screened candidates to hiring managers anxious to source top talent while reducing overall expenditures.

Visit us to learn more: https://equidpro.com/

References

1 https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-2018-annual-survey-workers-believe-flexible-remote-job-can-help-save-money-reduce-stress-more/

2 https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-2018-annual-survey-workers-believe-flexible-remote-job-can-help-save-money-reduce-stress-more/

3 https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-2018-annual-survey-workers-believe-flexible-remote-job-can-help-save-money-reduce-stress-more/

4 https://tech.co/news/inspired-employees-more-productive-2016-04

5https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282781192_The_impact_of_instant_messaging_in_the_workplace

6 https://instituteforpr.org/symmetrical-employee-communication-leads-employee-engagement-positive-employee-communication-behaviors/

7 https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/05/millennials-employment-employers-values-ethics-jobs

8 https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/05/millennials-employment-employers-values-ethics-jobs

9 https://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2016-millennial-employee-engagement-study#download-the-research

  • 0800-123456 (24/7 Support Line)
  • info@example.com
  • 6701 Democracy Blvd, Suite 300, USA