If you’re virtually interviewing for a new role during COVID-19, it’s essential to gauge your potential employer’s future post-pandemic. Asking questions of everyone you encounter during the hiring process can help you evaluate a future employer’s response to COVID-19. In turn, that can help you determine if management truly has your safety, job security, and financial interests in mind, and you’ll be able to gain insight into the future of the company post-COVID-19.
To help you along with your virtual interview, here is a list of suggested questions to ask hiring managers.
Question #1: What safety procedures have you put in place due to this pandemic?
Your first priority is to ensure that a prospective employer is following guidance from the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially if you will be working on-site. If the interviewer doesn’t address critical elements of an effective safety plan, or widely adopted best practices, drill down by asking pertinent follow-up questions such as:
- “What methods are you using to screen employees and visitors for possible signs of COVID-19, and how often are you screening?”
- “How do you deal with an employee who appears to have symptoms at work?”
- “How do you decide if an employee who has been out sick is safe to return?”
Question #2: What happens if I get COVID-19 and need to be quarantined?
As a new employee, it's essential to know whether you will be immediately eligible for the emergency paid sick leave if you develop COVID-19 symptoms (or need to care for a family member with COVID-19).
Question #3: Have you laid off employees due to the pandemic? If so, how did you help them transition to new jobs?
Supporting a company’s most valuable resource—its people—after a layoff is a significant responsibility. The way displaced workers are treated also says a lot about a company’s culture and what it values. For example, in addition to severance pay and any benefits extension, great employers continue to show concern and provide outplacement services, tools, and resources to help laid-off employees find new jobs.
Question #4: What impact has COVID-19 had on current business, and what is the forecast for future business? How has your business plan changed in response to COVID-19?
Depending on the industry, an employer may be experiencing an expansion or a decline in business. This is an excellent opportunity to understand not only the level of an employer’s solvency but also your chance to turn their challenges into opportunities. You need to know if a company is financially stable and whether they have a strategy to drive sales and manage budgets in a way that prioritises job security for employees before you accept an offer. If you’re comfortable with the manager’s response, this is the perfect opportunity to transition into a discussion about your potential role in supporting the business plan and how you can help.
Question #5: Will I have the option to work remotely? And if so, how will working remotely affect my career and future opportunities?
You want to get a sense of how your manager feels about working from home and whether continuing to work remotely, even if you’re uncomfortable returning, could impact your career. You should be concerned if a potential boss is less than enthusiastic about the idea, or can’t assure you that your career won’t suffer (or you won’t be overlooked for key assignments).
Question #6: How do you communicate with remote employees?
Ask your potential manager their preferred way of getting updates and reports and how someone will be available to answer your questions. Will there be weekly team video conferences and Slack communication? What hours are the managers available for one-off items?
Question #7: Has your company learned any lessons from this crisis?
Understand how organised and responsive the employer is with their risk mitigation. Did they move quickly to resolve problems associated with the crisis? Were they respectful of their employees' fears and concerns? Will they be ready if/when the next challenge comes along?