When the pandemic hit and many knowledge workers went home to work, companies were still hiring new employees and were migrating to remote recruiting and onboarding. Now, says Eric Sydell, executive vice president at Modern Hire, things are changing again. And companies need to be sure they have the right talent to navigate this change.
“I think a lot of companies [before the pandemic] were pretty stable in what they were looking for. And then as we got into the pandemic things obviously changed,” says Sydell. “We saw that there was a greater emphasis on other types of skills and issues – things related to how strong a work ethic you have; how conscientious you are; how pleasant it is to work independently.”
Some of that will remain, but organizations have new concerns and priorities as many bring workers back into the office and become hybrid workplaces. Here are some of the topics and interview questions experts say prospective employees should be prepared to answer in 2022 and beyond:
When employees return to the office, nearly two-thirds of employers are mandating vaccinations, according to staffing and recruiting firm Manpower Group. So expect questions about your vaccination status, says Executive Career Consultant Sarah Hutchison. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidance that generally allows employers to require workers to physically enter the workplace to be vaccinated. And an August 2021 Resume Builder survey found that about a third (33%) of hiring managers said they discard non-Vax resumes.
As roles shift from remote to in-office or hybrid, potential employers will want to know that you’re an agile communicator across platforms, says Christy Pruitt-Haynes, a consultant at the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global consulting firm that advises companies like Microsoft , Netflix and Zoom on workplace culture, leadership strategies and other topics. Whether your colleagues are in the office or in a different time zone, the ability to make sure everyone gets the message is key, she says. “In the past, the people on screen got lost in that,” she says.
Pruitt-Haynes says you may be asked about a time when you had to communicate the same information in different ways to multiple different audiences. “Or tell me about a time when you communicated with both some people in person and some people who participated online. How did you make sure everyone in the audience was engaged and successfully absorbed your message?” she says.
preferences and needs
In this tight job market, prospective employers are trying to do their best to ensure they are providing candidates with the benefits and accommodations they want, says recruitment and leadership consultant Omar L. Harris, author of Ranking: The DNA of high-performance teams. “Employees expect trust, stability, hope and compassion from their employers, as well as improved well-being, virtual or hybrid work opportunities and that their employer address the issues that matter most to them,” he says.
As a result, more interviews include questions about what the employee specifically wants and needs in the role to ensure they are the right fit. Some of the questions Harris sees arising are:
- How many days per week would you be willing to get into a physical office space?
- What was the best experience you’ve had with a manager, and what about their style worked for you?
- What causes are important to you and how can you see that this company is contributing to those causes in a meaningful way?
- What type of wellness benefits are you most interested in?
Sydell says interviewers are also likely to ask preference questions to ensure the respondent’s preferences align with what the company is trying to build. Questions about the various technologies the company uses — particularly communications technology — and each candidate’s suitability with them are also important, he says.
Diversity Equity and Inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion have become more important for many companies. Hutchison says she’s noticed an increase in the number of clients who tell her they’ve been asked to share their thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion in their interviews. “They say, ‘I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on diversity and inclusion,’ or ‘As I do as a leader [will be] sure to have these as pillars of my leadership,’” she says. As more workers prioritize DEI as an integral part of their company culture, asking such questions in an interview shows candidates that DEI is a priority and that the company is looking for candidates who care about these principles, she says.
willingness to return
Pruitt-Haynes also sees more questions related to readiness to return to the office. Employers “are really trying to get to the point, ‘Are you ready to go back in person?'” she says. “We know that the answer will vary a bit from person to person.” Employers want to know if potential employees are really at the point where they’re ready to re-engage personally, she says. “Different employers have different preferences.”