How to Navigate Face-to-Face Job Interviews Post-Pandemic
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no denying that things have changed - largely in the way we do things in the workplace.
This means that moving forward, we should come to expect that among those changes there are those that directly relate to how employers conduct in-person interviews - especially now that online, phone, and virtual recruitment have become the norm.
So, how can you be sure how to navigate face-to-face job interviews post-pandemic? For your convenience, we discuss this in detail below.
Face to Face Job Interview Etiquette
While virtual interviews are convenient for job seekers as restrictions ease, you really just can’t beat the engagement you get from face-to-face interviews - and many people actually prefer them when given the option.
That being said, there are a number of things that still need to be considered when meeting a potential employer in person (even if you’ve been fully vaccinated and restrictions have entirely lifted).
1. Ask First
Before worrying too much about what restrictions may or may not still be in place at the company you’re interviewing for, it’s a good idea to check in with the hiring manager (or HR) to see how you should prepare yourself before entering the building.
Some companies, for instance, are housed inside a building that’s made up of a number of other businesses - all of which might have their own specific policies and procedures, but all of which will also need to follow the safety guidelines of the building itself.
You might be asked to sanitise your hands on the way in - and then again once you enter the company headquarters. On the other hand, depending on when your interview is, these rules may no longer apply. Either way, knowing this information beforehand will help you come across prepared and professional.
2. Bring a Mask
This one might seem like a no-brainer under the current circumstance, however, believe it or not, there are already places around the globe that no longer require you to wear a mask indoors.
Nevertheless, out of sheer consideration, you should always carry a mask with you should your interviewer (or the business) prefer you wear one walking to and from the interview meeting room or even during the interview itself.
While it may not be convenient, it’s safe, accommodating, and kind to have one on standby as hiring managers continue to navigate face-to-face job interviews following the coronavirus pandemic.
3. Keep Your Distance
Even when social distancing eases completely, it’s important to remember that some people are still anxious and even uncomfortable being back in the office in close contact with other people - especially after nearly two years of remote working and virtual meetings.
That being said, making sure you keep a respectful distance when you meet your interviewer and avoid shaking their hand (unless they outwardly offer theirs first).
This also means that you may need to speak up a bit during the interview - not only because your mask might be in the way, but because you’d be surprised how much more difficult it is to hear someone from a metre away.
4. Rely on Your Body Language
This one is a big one, in particular, if you’re meant to wear a mask throughout your interview. However, body language is always an incredibly important part of any in-person meeting.
Pre and post-pandemic etiquette here is generally the same, however, when you’re keeping a respectful distance from your interviewer and potentially wearing a mask, you’ll need to try a little harder with your body language to remain engaging and show that you’re listening.
A few body language tips to help you along include:
- Nodding when prompted
- Maintaining a good level of eye contact
- Ensuring your body is facing the hiring manager
- Avoiding crossing your arms (this can make you appear closed off)
- Periodically using your hands when speaking
5. Speak Loudly & Clearly
As we covered in section 3, speaking up during your interview is important - especially if you’re meant to be wearing a face covering. If you’re naturally on the quieter side, this might be a particular challenge for you as there’s an increased chance of your voice becoming muffled - which can cause some confusion when you and the interviewer can’t see one another’s faces from the eyes down.
To this end, speaking louder but also slightly slower than you normally would will help you make sure that the interviewer can adequately hear your responses and any questions you may have. After all, you don’t want to have to repeat yourself multiple times throughout the interview as this can cause a bit of awkward tension and slow down the interview process.
If you’re worried about this you can always practice with a friend, family, or co-worker, however, we know at this point you’re likely more than well-versed in mask-on conversations.
Questions to Consider
Now that we have those handy post-pandemic in-person interview tips out of the way, we thought it might also be a good idea to run through some COVID-19 related questions you should be prepared to answer in your interview.
#1. How are you adjusting to life after lockdown?
Keep your answer to this question short and sweet - there’s no reason to go too in-depth as it will more likely be a question to get the interview started and is meant more as a pleasantry than anything else.
#2. How has the pandemic affected your career goals?
In a nutshell, this question could be translated into ‘what are you looking for in your next role and how are we the right fit?’
Discuss how you’d like to develop moving forward and where you see yourself progressing if you were hired, emphasising how the pandemic has only pushed you to strive for more.
#3. How did you have to adapt to the pandemic?
Here you can touch on how you adapted to working from home during the pandemic and how you’re prepared to remain flexible at work.
It’s also good to elaborate on what you’ve learned over the last year and a half - highlighting where you may have taken advantage of the extra time you had and how you developed your skills on your own.
#4. How did you cope with the stress of COVID-19?
If an interviewer asks you this question, what they really want to know is ‘how did you handle yourself when things got hard?’
Again, you don’t have to go into too much detail here, however, focusing on how you organised and managed your workload and making time for self-care is probably best.
#5. What’s one good thing that came out of the pandemic for you?
Take a moment to gather your thoughts with this one - as it can be tricky if not triggering for some people depending on their experience over the last while.
Reflecting on how the pandemic made you realise how much you value your time with friends and family, or how you uncovered a keen interest in a fun new hobby is enough.
Questions to Ask
While you’ll be readily prepared to answer questions pandemic-related and otherwise, you should also have a few specific post-pandemic questions to ask your potential employer to give you a better understanding of the company, your role, and their working culture.
Feel free to use the following questions to get yourself started:
- What impact did the pandemic have on the company?
- How has the pandemic changed your team and/or company’s objectives?
- What opportunities will your employees have to upskill moving forward?
- How has your company culture changed from pre to post-pandemic?
- How did your team and/or company adapt to COVID-19, and what changes will remain in the future?
While navigating face-to-face job interviews post-pandemic may be an intimidating notion at first, remember that we’re all adjusting to these changes and the ‘new normal’ together - and we’ll be all the better for it.
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