What did you do during the lockdown?
That is going to be one of the key interview questions for a long while after the Coronavirus settles down.
It’s very specific and generalized statements wont cut it.
Most situations are unique so canned answers will be unsuitable.
Answers can’t be prepared after the fact.
It covers a few different aspects including culture, ambition, morale and discipline.
Finally, and best of all, it’s entirely a two way street. The answer will be equally important to companies and interviewees.
Learning About Interviewees
Some things that companies can learn about the interviewees are:
- Did the person try to make the best of a bad situation?
- Did they do their part?
- Did they plan appropriately?
- How did they cope with a sudden switch to working remotely, under minimal supervision and in-person contact?
- How did they establish a work-life balance?
- What did they choose to spend extra time doing?
- How they kept sane, entertained, and happy and prevented burn-out? Do they have coping strategies?
- How they handled pressure? Or opposite, how they handled having nothing to do?
There aren’t really wrong answers. Different companies will look for different things. Perhaps a person wasn’t able to adjust to remote work, but the hiring company doesn’t do remote work. Perhaps they chose to spend their extra time learning to bake and the hiring company is targetting home cooks. It’s that knowing these things about a potential hire is immensely helpful for setting up a good relationship and a good work environment for the person.
Learning About Companies
Conversely, culture, ambition, morale and discipline are also all things that every one of us should know about a company we’re interviewing at. And by knowing how the company responded to the lockdown, interviewees can learn a lot as well.
- How resilient were they to an extreme down-turn? Conversely, how they made use of an extreme up-turn?
- How did they handle work vanishing or multiplying several-fold?
- How quick were they to implement mitigation strategies, even ones that might have been totally unknown (such as fully remote work)?
- Did they take care of their staff? Was it an immediate lay-off or furlough?
- Did they implement safety procedures if on-site work was required?
- Was cutting staff needed or was the virus just an excuse?
- Did they hire aggressively, or just dump the work on existing people and tell them to deal with it?
- How did they adapt to new revenue streams?
- How did they help with work-life balance?
- What did they do after? Did they have an knee-jerk reaction to go back to the way it was before? Did they consider making changes permanent?
For startups in particular, there’s also additional information about the product direction as well as funding:
- How funded was the company? What alternatives were pursued?
- How was the business adjusted? Was the original purpose abandoned?
- What’s the plan after? How will the original business come back? Will it come back?
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