Now that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the United States, more and more employers want workers back in offices at least some of the time.
According to a January survey of 133 US executives, only 5% believed that workers did not need to return to the office to maintain a good workplace culture; instead, the most common response was that employees should work at least three days in person. But a significant number of workers want to continue working from home for part of the week, and some never want to go back to the office at all.
As a result, the needs and wants of workers and employers may clash, and hiring managers ask new job interview questions designed to reveal the discrepancies. Companies don’t just want to know if you can do the job, but if your preferred way of working matches their return-to-work plans.
Here are the types of questions you should be prepared for:
1. ‘How do you do a project with minimal supervision?’
Daniel Space, who has worked in the human resources field for over 20 years, currently consults business partners on strategic staffing, including interview questions.
“As it relates to COVID, many of the questions we ask are … behavioral style interview questions that tell us your ability to succeed in a fully remote environment,” he said. “What kind of touchpoints do you need? How do you take directions with minimal supervision? How do you deal with different time zones? How do you stay organized and managed? »
If you made a sudden remote transition at the start of the pandemic, this is an opportunity to show how you adapted when your boss wasn’t supervising you in person. Space said it can also be a way to share what you’ve learned about old workflows that no longer work for you and which ones work for you. It’s a chance for interviewers to engage in a dialogue about what they’re doing and not doing and if it’s working for you.
Space said he saw candidates who were afraid to be open and who thought interviewers wanted to hear that they weren’t taking any breaks. But he was impressed by the creative responses, such as one woman who said she worked late because others worked late until she realised, “It’s just not me. I’m really an early riser… Taking this approach has been great. My working style is so much better.
2. “Can you share an example of how you had to adapt in your role during COVID?”
Adaptability and flexibility are always highly sought after skills by employers. But now there’s a COVID twist to questions about those attributes.
“I hear a lot of candidates being asked about adaptability. How have they adapted in the workplace during COVID, what examples can they provide to show their adaptability,” said Jessica Hernandez, career development coach.
The goal is to show how you completed the challenge. “Maybe it was that they quickly adapted to learning new software to work virtually, or to meet a need for their customers who couldn’t get around the office anymore,” Hernandez said.
Fortunately, the career story you’re telling doesn’t have to be tied to a current job if you don’t have one. If you lost a job during COVID, you can talk about new skills and experiences you have acquired or courses you have taken in the meantime.
3. ‘Do you have any concerns about returning to work?’ or ‘Do you prefer to work in an office or at home?’
Hernandez said interview questions about working arrangements are one of the most common questions she hears from clients.
“For some job seekers, it’s about their preferences as employers try to recruit talent. And for other job seekers, it’s about appropriate, when an employer needs an employee present at the workplace to complete the job,” she said.
When asked about your comfort level working in an office, Space recommends sticking to your values so you don’t find yourself in a job that doesn’t fit later.
“If you say ‘I’m all for going back to work [in an office]’ and then a month later you’re not, you’re putting the company at risk because they don’t necessarily want to have a negative reaction against you. You’re putting yourself in danger because that’s what you said, but now you’re saying the opposite,” he said.
Ultimately, if a company doesn’t match your values on remote work, look for another employer that does. “If that means they’re saying, ‘We don’t think it’s a good fit, we’re demanding everyone be back to work by August,’ better keep looking for remote businesses,” Space said. “We are in an unprecedented employment boom right now since the start of COVID.”
Do you really want to work for someone you disagree with?Tejal Wagadia, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist
Tejal Wagadia, senior talent acquisition specialist at MST Solutions, recommends asking recruiters what the expectations are for a given position. This way, you can get an idea of what your future boss thinks before expressing your preference.
Keep in mind that some roles available now may start remotely and transition to in-person jobs in the summer. Recruiters may ask you if you’re okay with this, Wagadia said, and indicating an honest preference to continue working remotely may exclude you from the race for certain opportunities. But Wagadia said being honest can do you a favor in the long run.
“Do you really want to work for someone you know and disagree with?” Wagadia said. “It might get you out of that position, but it might save you later the heartache of…constantly bumping into the manager.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.