20 COVID-Related Questions to Ask EmployersSeptember 30, 2020
By: Lauren Frazer
Lauren Frazer is a senior editor for Indeed’s Career Guide with over 15 years of experience in content creation, editorial and marketing. Based in New Hampshire, she thrives on helping job seekers learn what they need to develop and grow.
In any job interview, preparing thoughtful questions to ask your interviewer(s) is a must. Doing so not only shows your genuine interest in and excitement about the role, it can also help you learn whether the role and company are a good fit for you. Interviews are your chance to vet the employer just as much as they’re seeking to learn about your fitness for the job.
Now, in the midst of COVID-19, it is increasingly important to understand how companies have handled the crisis, how it is impacting their business and what kinds of support they’re offering employees during what is an extremely difficult time for many.
In this article, we offer examples of COVID-19-related questions you can ask employers during interviews so you can understand the steps they’ve taken in response and learn about any gaps or shortcomings. This is an unprecedented time and employers may not have good answers to all of your questions, but asking them can at least illuminate exactly what you can expect when you start your new job.
Before the Q and A…
Whether you are interviewing for a new job or considering returning to your previous job (post-furlough or temporary work-from-home), it’s wise to consider the following prior to having your q & a conversation about COVID-19 and the workplace:
Know your rights
Before starting the conversation with a present or potential future employer, make sure that you know the current legal guidelines on returning to work, as well as what your legal rights as an employee are. Review current federal and state regulations on COVID and the workplace and pay particular attention to the following as applicable:
Prepare for virtual or in-person.
Depending on the company’s guidelines on in-person work requirements, you could be scheduled to go in-person for your interview or back-to-work conversation. Make sure to ask beforehand if a virtual alternative will be available. Moreover, if having the flexibility of a virtual work environment is a deal breaker for you, ask prior to the interview to save yourself the time and effort for a position that is not right for you.
Visit Indeed’s Virtual Hiring tour to RSVP for the event in your region and learn more about getting hired from the safety of your home.
What to listen for…
How people answer a question can often tell you just as much as the answer itself. Pay attention to the content of their answer as well as their nonverbal communication, including body language, tone and talking speed. Here’s what else to listen for to ensure that you will be getting what you need from your next job:
- Direct answers. Especially, when it comes to questions of health and job security, you need well-thought-out, full-bodied answers to your questions. Vague or indirect answers to your questions require clarification. If they cannot answer directly, there might not be a plan in place that will satisfy your level of comfort during COVID-19.
- Details. Your interviewer should be able to provide details on what they have learned, their new strategy and the current safety precautions they have in place. If you receive short answers, they may simply not have the details figured out yet.
- Present tense. Listen for answers from your interviewer that tells you that they are presently taking steps to respond to COVID-19 as a business. While it could be that there is a future plan to enact these things, the answer should be definable with specified timelines. Anything less could be a maybe.
COVID-19-related questions to ask in your next interview
- Tell me about the steps the company took after the onset of COVID-19.
- What is your policy on working from home? Do you plan on implementing a long-term flexible or remote work option?
- If your business went remote at any point, what benefits and/or deficits have you seen as a result?
- If your business went remote at any point, how have you handled staff management virtually?
- If you have resumed in-person work, how has COVID-19 affected your office processes or occupancy?
- Do you see your office layout evolving in the next three to five years?
- If you have an in-person work environment, what steps will you take if one person tests positive for COVID-19?
- If you have an in-person work environment, what is your plan should there be a mandatory shutdown due to an outbreak? Are you prepared to go remote should that occur?
- Do you have any new programs, perks or benefits to encourage employees to be productive and happy at home (office space reimbursement, flex time, etc.)?
- How has COVID-19 affected your business financially? Has the pandemic changed your short- and long-term strategy? How?
11.If your business went remote at any point, what kind of remote programs, software or technical supports have you offered employees?
- What is your expectation for employees who don’t feel comfortable in an in-person office environment within the next year?
- How has COVID-19 impacted staff taking vacation? Has your vacation policy changed as a result?
- What happens if I get COVID-19? How does your sick leave policy affect COVID? Will I need to quarantine?
- What is your policy on extended leave should I need to care for a sick family member?
- What is your mask policy? How is it enforced?
- Based on your new strategy after the pandemic, what can you tell me about the security of this position?
- Have you initiated any programs to help employees become more adaptable through education and training?
- If your office is remote, how have you maintained company culture?
Are you taking any steps to support parents with kids learning remotely at home?
Tips for interviewing during COVID-19
Your interview is likely to look and feel different during COVID-19. Here are several tips on how to prepare for and succeed in your next interview:
A virtual interview can be different in nature and requirements, but also requires much of the same protocol and engagement. Here are some ways to make your next virtual interview successful:
- Treat your virtual interview as you would an in-person interview. Dress professionally and appear polished, smile and make eye contact.
- Test all computer equipment and programs prior to the interview.
- Ensure you have the right bandwidth and a strong internet connection.
- Choose a quiet, distraction-free, clean and clutter-free workspace.
- Have a pad of paper and pen ready to take notes.
- Write down your questions and place them with your note paper.
- Be ready with your own answers to questions about adaptability, growth and goals.
- Make sure the lighting is even and your web cam is focused on your face by choosing a well-lit spot in your room. Play with peripheral lighting in the room to get the best video appearance.
- Stay engaged, actively listen and be positive, even if the answers are not what you’re hoping for.
- Notify any housemates about the time and day of your interview, explaining that you’ll need at least two hours (or more) free of noise and distraction.
Read more: How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview
In-person interviews will likely also look much different in the midst of COVID-19. Here are some ways to make your next in-person interview successful:
- If you are uncomfortable with meeting in person for your interview, ask your interviewer if there is a virtual alternative. If there isn’t, ask about the ways they’re making the interview safe to decide whether or not you’d like to proceed.
- Ask what you should expect. Many companies have mask policies, certain guidelines for arriving and/or temperature checks at entry. This will prepare you for the process ahead of time.
- Avoid a handshake if you are uncomfortable. Most hiring managers will know not to initiate this kind of contact. If they do put out their hand, feel free to express your concern respectfully.
Read more: How to Prepare for an Interview