For many of us, the last few months have been spent focusing on the things that we may have taken advantage of before: health, family, shelter and food. That’s more than enough to occupy the time. And it’s not just curious friends and family that are asking how we’ve been taking care of ourselves—potential employers want to know, too. Many of my Outplacement Career Coach clients have voiced an interest in how to address COVID-19 during job interviews.
It is important to remember that this question has layers. In short, the potential employer wants to gain insight into how you manage change and stress. This question also serves as an icebreaker, as just about every conversation you have with another person in the foreseeable future will at least touch upon the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Job interviews are no different. Plan ahead for how to address COVID-19 during job interviews by selecting an activity or undertaking that showcases your strengths from one of the categories below.
A strengthened interest in self-care and balance has led to quite a bit of self-discovery in the past few months. Connect the dots on how your ability to reflect and grow is a desired quality for the role. Some talking points include how you’ve developed a deeper understanding of your community and yourself by connecting more with your network; learning more about your work style, and more. Share an example about how you effectively set a boundary, or how you found out that you can easily adapt to ever-changing situations.
Did COVID-19 present you with new scenarios that pulled you outside of your comfort zone? Take your answer to the interview question and create a way to demonstrate that you adapt to change quickly. These skills are needed and important for any job you are targeting.
Intellectual curiosity and the ability to be a life-long learner is valuable to any employer. Examples of activities in this category include: taking a course, earning a certification, learning a new skill, and more. Create a story that paints a picture of the action you took, what you learned, and what you took away from the experience. This demonstrates your love of learning and shows that you are ambitious in any situation.
Don’t be afraid to share any and all volunteer and community work during a job interview. If you can tie it back to something industry-specific to the job and the company’s culture, even better! Some examples of activities you may have supported include volunteering (both in-person and virtual), connecting with neighbors, friends and colleagues or participating in any community events and givebacks.
If you have remained employed, share how you’ve added value to your current company. Examples include leading and managing others during a crisis, identifying cost saving measures, and creating new ways to drive revenue. Did you quickly master online platforms to teach others in the organization how to effectively work from home? If so, communicate this experience by creating a narrative that focuses on how you quickly adapted and managed the stress of an ever-changing situation.
Most of us may have not accomplished a lot on paper during this stressful time, and that’s okay! However, we have all had to adapt and learn new ways of navigating our lives. There is a certainly a story or two from the last few months that will showcase relevant skills to the interviewer. And knowing how to address COVID-19 during job interviews will show potential employers your strengths, resiliency and get you one step closer to landing the job.
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