5 interview questions to secure top talent in the new era of work

As organisations enter the next, very different, era of work, you need the right people to succeed and thrive. After all, both organisations and people have changed because of Covid-19, so now, more than ever, you need to ask the right interview questions to secure top candidates in the next era of work. 

Following are five interview questions to ask candidates when conducting a job interview to determine if they have the skills and experience you require. Asking these questions, whether in a socially distanced face-to-face or remote interview, allows you to hire the right skills you need for today’s new world of work. 

The interview questions you must ask to secure the best candidates today

1. “Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?”

A hybrid way of working will likely become standard for many organisations post-pandemic. A ‘hybrid’ team is a partially distributed workforce with some team members working from the office and the remainder working from home. 

You will therefore want to take this into consideration when interviewing. Make sure you assess where the candidate would prefer to spend most of their time and in which setting they might deliver the most value to your business.

For many hiring managers, “Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?” was a common interview question pre-Covid-19, but the answer given in the post-pandemic world has far more meaning and importance.

2. “How do you ensure your productivity and motivation remains high while working remotely?”

It is likely that remote working will no longer be considered a perk post-pandemic. Going forward, candidates will demand a higher level of flexibility to work remotely – whether that be from their homes or an alternate location.
During the pandemic, most managers were pleased with the levels of productivity within their suddenly remote teams. Most attest this was due to remote workers having the freedom to form their own new habits and schedules – helping them to work in a way that they find most effective.
So, going forward, it’s extremely important to hire candidates who are productive, engaged and motivated while working remotely. 

3. “How do you practice lifelong learning and continuous upskilling?”

The pandemic has emphasised the need for organisations to ensure their people are agile, adaptable and flexible. Having the skills necessary to adapt to challenges that come with sudden change is crucial. 

Employers will need to focus on providing digitalised training and ultimately embedding a culture of lifelong learning into their organisations. It is also important that employees are committed to their own learning, so that continuous upskilling becomes a habit and something they get fulfilment out of.

Asking this question to candidates will help you understand if they are committed to their own lifelong learning and, if so, how they practice it. You could even ask them what new skills they have recently learned independently and how they went about learning them.

4. “Tell me about a time where you have failed.”

There are many unknowns as we look to the future. Organisations are quickly changing direction, seeking out new markets and potentially new customers. All this change and uncertainty means that there will undoubtedly be bumps along the way as you start to re-align both your business and your people. 

To be successful in the future, the next era of work will demand not only an increased aptitude for learning, but a sense of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

By asking your candidates to explain a time when they have failed, you will be able to learn if they are truly comfortable with failure and see it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

5. “How do you inject an element of creativity into your work?”

As digital transformation and automation accelerates even further post-pandemic, it will be our innately human skills that will hold the highest value and drive the biggest impact. 

All roles, now more than ever, will demand an element of creativity, innovative thinking and problem solving. Asking candidates how they inject creativity into their work, therefore, will become increasingly important. For example, do they brainstorm with a colleague, listen to podcasts or go for a walk to ‘disconnect’ and relax so they can think creatively or find solutions more quickly.

Think about how best to assess a candidate

Of course, interviews are not the only assessment tool at your disposal. Many organisations are now considering additional testing to assess the specific skills needed for a role, including:
  • Technical test: If a role requires a high degree of technical skills, you could ask candidates to take a test to assess theirs. You may want to consider providing a test in advance and giving candidates a set day and time to return their answers via email.

    Alternatively, if the role requires working to very tight deadlines, you could provide a test during a virtual interview, giving candidates a shorter amount of time to complete it and therefore seeing how they respond under pressure.

    If you do set a test during a virtual interview, it is a good idea to mute microphones and turn off all cameras – on both the interviewer and candidate’s computers – as this may be off-putting or distracting.
  • Virtual presentation: If a role requires regular presentations, consider asking candidates to prepare a virtual presentation. Provide a topic in advance and decide a suitable timeframe based upon what would be a realistic deadline in your organisation. 

    You may also want to provide other relevant information, such as the format, length, number of people they will be presenting to and what you’ll be assessing them on – for example, the content, use of data or persuasive skills. 
  • Virtual panel or group interview: If a role requires strong communication skills or working with multiple teams, consider a panel or group interview format.

    Make sure the number, roles and seniority of panellists reflect the job in question. Clarify with candidates beforehand who will be present and agree expectations with the other interviewers, such as who will talk first, how many questions each interviewer should ask, the order of questions to be asked and the parameters they should assess candidates on.
To sum up, your business has changed because of the pandemic and so have your people – both current and future. So, it’s important the questions you ask in a job interview reflect that. After all, if you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t hire the right people to really help set your organisation apart in the next era of work.

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

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