7 questions to ask your interviewer after Covid-19

A job interview has always been a two-way conversation. While the interviewer wants to get a clear picture of your skills, experience and suitability for the role, you’re also assessing whether this is an organisation in which you can succeed and thrive. So, when the interview says, “Do you have any questions for me?”, you need to use this opening to delve into the issues that are important to your own future success.  

But today, in response to Covid-19, the factors that are important to you in a career and workplace may have changed. So, if what you want to get out of your professional life has shifted over the past couple of months, it makes sense that the questions you ask your interviewer during your upcoming interview should also change.
Of course, standard questions are still important. However, it’s worth asking some different, more topical questions that will help you be absolutely sure you’re make the best possible decision to set you up for career success in the next era of work. 

Questions to ask in a job interview post-Covid-19

1. “What were your key learns from the Covid-19 crisis, both from a business and a leadership point of view?”

No organisation has been left unchanged from the coronavirus pandemic, forcing many to reconfigure long-standing processes, find new ways of working, seek out new markets or even develop new products or services, all in record time.
Mistakes will have inevitably been made along the way, but it’s how organisations and their leaders learn from those lessons, and crucially, take what they’ve learnt into the future that matters the most.

2. “What are the strategic priorities of the organisation and have these changed due to the crisis? How does this role support in achieving them?”

Business models are quickly pivoting to adapt to the new world, galvanising entire workforces to ensure they are met and exceeded. As a potential new employee – someone who is likely now looking for more meaning in their role – it’s important for you to understand what the organisation’s new strategic priorities are and how this role will contribute to achieving them. 
It’s also important for you to feel reassured that the organisation is adapting and innovating to secure a strong position in the next era of work.

3. “How does your organisation live its organisational purpose? How does this role help deliver on it?”

As our CEO, Alistair Cox, has noted, “The COVID-19 crisis has changed people for good. It has forced us to re-evaluate what really matters to us, and what really matters to the world. It has forced us to question if we are spending our time on this planet in the best way possible, recognising that we are just visitors.” 
So, it’s likely that you’re feeling more inclined than ever to work for an organisation you feel your personal values are aligned to.

4. “How are you supporting the lifelong learning of your employees to ensure they can work in an adaptable and agile way in the future?”

During the pandemic, we have all been awoken to the fact that everything can change in an instant. Therefore, we must do everything we can to ensure that we are as adaptable and agile as possible – meaning upskilling and professional development may have climbed up our priority list over the past couple of months. 
It’s crucial that you feel confident you are joining an organisation that genuinely supports its employees in upskilling, giving them the autonomy to guide their own personalised learning in a way that works for them.

5. “What support could I expect to receive when working remotely or from home?”

Post-pandemic, remote working will no longer be considered a perk. But, this is relatively new territory for many organisations, so it’s important to understand what support you will be provided with, whether that be in the form of equipment, training or wellbeing programmes.

6. “What is your management style when leading hybrid teams? Are there any best practices that you live by?”

The rise of hybrid teams, which combine remote and in-office working, means that each day in a workplace can look very different. This is new territory for many managers and will bring new challenges, so understand how they are leading their hybrid teams and if they learnt any lessons from the extended period of remote leadership experienced during lockdown.

7. “How do you ensure the organisational culture is maintained when working in a hybrid way?”

The culture of an organisation is its personality. It can take years to build and requires input from all employees to bring it alive and, importantly, keep it alive – in the good and the bad times. 
However, a hybrid way of working brings a whole new set of challenges when it comes to maintaining and building an organisation’s culture. So, it’s important to understand what steps the organisation is taking to maintain its culture in a hybrid environment, such as regular catch ups or ensuring all communication lines are open and inclusive.

Why asking questions is important in helping you build rapport, remotely

Building rapport with an interviewer is something that many candidates struggle with, both during face-to-face interviews and remote job interviews. But asking questions can really help you to ensure the interview feels like a conversation and not an interrogation, and that the experience is an enjoyable one for both parties.
Here are a few ways asking questions can help you build rapport during a remote job interview:
  • Asking highly relevant, considered questions: Of course, key to building rapport is ensuring the questions you ask your interviewer are highly relevant – to the current situation, to the organisation, to the role and to the interviewer. Asking the right questions will ensure you’re perceived as a genuinely interested, competent candidate. Important, too, is the need to actively listen to your interviewer throughout the interview – this will help ensure that you don’t ask a question on a topic that’s already been covered. 
  • Asking follow-up questions: You could even consider asking follow-up questions to the interviewer, after you’ve answered their initial question, or simply ending with a clarifying question such as, “I hope I’ve answered your question?” This will help maintain momentum, keep the conversation flowing and reiterate that you’re keen to ensure you’ve answered their questions fully.
  • Thanking the interviewer for their response to your question: When thanking the interviewer for their response, instead of merely saying, “Thank you”, try to pull out a couple of elements of their answer and reiterate that in your response. For example, “Thank you for that, the point you made around empowering your people to take account for their own learning and development really resonates with me.”
  • Take a pause: Importantly, once the interviewer has answered your question, pause to ensure they’ve completely finished before thanking them for their answer or asking a follow up question. This will ensure you don’t speak over them (accounting for any time lags, particularly when interviewing remotely), while demonstrating your active listening skills. 
Remember, as has always been the case, your upcoming job interview is just as much about you analysing whether this is the right role and organisation for you, as it is about the interviewer deciding whether you are the best candidate. So, use this as an opportunity to ask the most relevant, considered and topical questions to ensure you’re making the right career decision.

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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