Whether we like to admit it or not, COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives. So, if you are currently job searching and get called in for an interview, don’t be surprised if you get asked questions specific to you and your life during the pandemic, as well as questions about how you have adjusted to the new reality of remote work.
Here we dive into the specific question: ‘how have you adjusted to working from home’. By being prepared, we hope you can impress your interviewer and stand out from the crowd of potential candidates. It is a very relevant interview question that will help your potential employers understand you, your work life challenges, and your resilience to adverse situations.
I was inspired to write this advice blog when reading this excellent article on CNBC’s Make It so make sure to read it too.
My take on the question
The question can be answered from several different angles. Firstly, you can talk about how you have personally adapted: Have you started meditating or reading more? Are you more health conscious? Or did you binge watch shows on Netflix while eating tubs of junk food bemoaning about life (we do not recommend sharing this in an interview!)
Many of the biggest challenges faced by individuals during COVID and the subsequent lockdowns were those related to mental health. While it is not advisable to openly discussing your mental health issues and disabilities during the interview process – any improvements you made to your personal life and wellbeing will reflect positively on you.
As an example: employers are aware that gyms and other public facilities were closed, or their access was limited to the public over the last two years. If you mention the fact that you maintained your health by going out for walks and runs, or working out at home, you will show your grit and self discipline in the face of adversity.
Secondly, you can discuss your family life and how it has affected you. It will show your human side. Personally, I went through one of the most challenging periods of my life: My daughter turned 1 during the early days of the pandemic and as a family, we decided I would stop all work to look after our daughter. Our son was born in between the 3rd and the 4th wave of the pandemic in Ontario. Without going in to too much detail, I can signal to the employee that my family is important to me, but that I am also a person that can be reliable, mature individual who takes his responsibilities seriously.
Thirdly, you can show that you used your time wisely and invested in yourself. As cliché as it may sound, time is a limited resource and every moment counts. I was lucky enough to be able to take several professional courses and turn my business around, as well as read (or listen to) more than 10 books per year. There is a lot that can be done even for those on the tightest of budgets: access to books via a library, free courses online, group activities and webinars etc. Make sure to mention these, but if you are drawing a blank here, its never too late to get started.
Finally, discuss how you gained new communication skills, including the use of Zoom calls to host virtual drinks with friends. It may seem trivial, but it shows you are capable to collaboration and virtual communication. Remote work is now a reality and most likely the new way to work. Learning how to use online collaboration tools like Google Workspaces, Microsoft Teams, Miro, Mural etc. will show your potential employers that you can lead teams and engage others virtually. Using project management tools like Trello or Asana will also impress your interviewers.
Finally, remember to be genuine. If you lie, or exaggerate, it may show through and cast serious doubts on your other qualifications. On the other hand, being honest and truthful will help you come across as a better person.
Now go ahead and ace that that interview!