In this unprecedented time of the COVID pandemic, most companies are resorting to online interviews for their hiring process. Previously, Zoom or Skype calls were conducted only as an initial interview when screening candidates, but now these online interviews have become the primary method of recruitment by many companies. And they are poised to be a part of the norm long after the end of this pandemic, so it’s important that job seekers get a grasp of how to do well in an online interview.
Online interviews may first seem like a challenge because of the new technology needed and the different dynamics involved when communicating online. It’s all about intensively preparing beforehand, and part of that is learning how to answer interview questions effectively and professionally.
In this article, we’ll share some of the most common yet important job interview questions, as well as questions specific to the COVID pandemic and work-from-home arrangements. We’ll also guide you on how to answer these questions, so you can be prepared and ace your next Zoom interview.
- Tell me about yourself.
This is often the first question that recruiters ask the candidate, and it is what sets the tone for the rest of the interview. Employers want to know about you and your background, and how it relates to the position you’re applying for.
Answer the question by starting with a short overview of your current position, and then include important highlights from your background (academic background, past positions, relevant skills) that show that you’re qualified for the position. Stay concise yet substantial in your answer.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When asked about your strengths, it’s time to shine a light on both your soft skills and technical skills. An effective way to answer is to share your personal qualities and attributes, and then relate them to the role you’re interviewing for.
For weaknesses, the trick is to remain candid yet compelling. Pick a truthful weakness (ideally one that is not considered essential to the position), give a specific anecdote to give context and show self-awareness, and end on a positive note by mentioning the measures you’ve taken to improve.
- What motivates you?
Employers ask this question to better understand your passions or driving force and whether it aligns with the position and your potential career with the company. To answer, share something specific that you’re genuinely passionate about, provide real-life examples, and tie it back to the job.
- Can you tell me about a difficult work situation, and how did you overcome it?
This question is used by interviewers to assess your ability to perform under pressure and solve problems. It’s the perfect opportunity to show your proactiveness and willingness to help out.
Instead of going for hard facts and figures, answer this question by telling a story from your work experience because these will be more memorable compared to numbers. Show, not tell.
- How have you adapted to working from home?
If you’re looking for a job during the pandemic, you will most likely be on a work-from-home arrangement until further notice. Recruiters want the reassurance that you are capable of remote work and can remain productive in this arrangement.
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Mention concrete changes that you have done to adapt to remote work, like creating a dedicated workspace, organizing your day, and familiarizing yourself with remote work technologies like Zoom or Slack.
- How have you handled stress during this pandemic?
Employers want to gauge your ability to stay productive in light of stress because there will surely be more stressful situations to come your way when working for the company.
To answer the question, acknowledge the stress caused by the pandemic, and then give examples of your different coping strategies like taking short walks, reading, meditating, or connecting with friends and family.
- Why should we hire you?
Interviewers ask this question towards the end of the interview to give you the opportunity to sell yourself in the best way possible. It’s best to have an elevator pitch prepared so you’re ready to answer this question effectively and persuasively.
The key to approaching this question is to show how it’s a good fit on both sides. Aside from mentioning your strengths and qualifications that make you great for the job, emphasize how the company’s attributes – be it branding, values, or culture – align with your own personal beliefs.
- Do you have any questions?
Never end up empty-handed when you are asked if you have any questions. This is your chance to ask and get to know more about the position or the company, and it also shows that you’re interested and excited about the role.
A good way to go is to ask relevant and thoughtful questions that can show you’ve done your background research about the company, like asking about the impact of a new market trend or a newly announced change within the organization.
In light of the pandemic, it can also be an opportunity to ask about the measures the company has undergone to keep their employees safe and shift to a remote work arrangement. You can also ask about the company’s future plans post-pandemic, like their timetable for safely returning to on-site work.
Online interviews may be on a different platform, but the tips on acing them are still the same. Be confident, show your personality, and come prepared. We wish everyone good luck on their online interviews, and may you find the job that you want.