In the aftermath of Covid-19, virtual interviews are now king, and as you might expect, the advice I give to my clients has changed. Instead of coaching my clients how to walk into a room with confidence, I now find myself reminding people that they don’t have to yell because they are on camera, or telling them to find good lighting in their house.
Believe me, I never thought I would be recommending that a client buy a ring light unless they were hoping to make it big as a Youtuber. But at the same time, a lot of best-practice interviewing hasn’t changed. After all, regardless of how high-definition and well-lit your Zoom window may appear, you still have to be able to answer questions that will determine whether or not you get the role.
Here are the 5 interview questions that are the most important to be prepared for in 2022.
- How have you approached building professional relationships while working remotely?
This question is one that I’ve heard frequently from my clients, and it’s not surprising: it gives the interviewer a chance to gauge how you can handle remote work, which is likely here to stay in one form or another. 80% of workers predict being at least partially remote, and more importantly, half of people wouldn’t even be interested in a job that wasn’t remote.
The first thing to realize is that you’ve already started to answer the question before the interviewer even asked it. As soon as the call starts, the person on the other side of the call has been evaluating how well you are able to engage and connect virtually. It’s daunting, and if virtual communication isn’t your forté, that’s okay. Most people aren’t their best-selves staring at their own face on a screen for 8 hours a day.
So even though that sounds intimidating, don’t worry! Here are a few tips for making a good impression and showing your people skills through a web-cam before the interviewer even explicitly asks.
- Look directly at the camera. This simulates eye contact, which is so crucial when interviewing. It also helps you out— staring at faces on a screen is distracting.
- Hide your own video image in the display. Of course, make sure you’re comfortable with your setting and appearance before the call starts, but once you’ve gotten your ducks in a row, hide your own video feed. Another distraction. Be careful, though, this is one you should practice with a friend before you do it in the interview—the last thing you want is for your face to disappear from everyone’s screen during your crucial interview!
- Remember your body language tools. Leaning in and nodding when someone makes an interesting point shows engagement and friendliness.
Ok, now that we have the non-verbal communication points down, you still have to actually answer the question.
Here’s a few ideas on how to address this question in a thoughtful way:
- “I feel that it’s really important to get to know colleagues both one-on-one and in group settings. I’ve really enjoyed when I’ve had the opportunity to connect with new co-workers to have a virtual coffee and get their perspective and learn from their experience at the company. I’ve also looked out for opportunities to have small breakout groups with team members to discuss how we can all work better together and solicit feedback.”
- “I’ve actually found it to be super productive to connect on phone calls. Everyone’s schedule is full of videoconferencing, and I don’t want to add to anyone’s screen time. So, I’ve asked a few co-workers to share their experience on a phone call, and found that I often get a really great perspective and people are quite open to sharing their experiences in this way.”
- “Getting to know a new person can be so tough without ever getting the chance to meet in person, so if I get the opportunity to get to know your staff, I plan to do my best to take every opportunity to share my perspective, my story and my experience. I hope this will allow me to introduce myself in a way that doesn’t put too much of a burden on my future colleagues, especially while we’re all navigating remote work.”
- What are your salary expectations?
So many people dread this question. Money is an awkward topic in general, but in interview settings specifically, it’s a huge elephant in the room. Many of us struggle to ask for what we want or what we are worth, which makes it that much more difficult when this question comes up.
My advice really boils down to this:
- Know your worth
- Do your homework
Some self-affirmations and resources like Glassdoor are your friend. That being said, I always remind my clients that whoever gives a number first puts themselves at a disadvantage. This is why I think the best answer to this question goes something like this:
“I’m flexible when it comes to salary; my number one priority right now is finding the right fit.”
When you answer like this, you give yourself a chance that they’ll leave it at that, and you can further discuss a salary negotiation once you’ve received an offer. But you should be ready for them to press the subject, and if they do, I recommend quoting a salary range that is in the top 20% of salaries within your role, skill level, and experience.
- Tell me about your biggest strengths?
This is one of the most common interview questions to date— but even though it’s simple and asked frequently doesn’t make it any less difficult to answer. No one wants to come across as conceited or like a show-off.
A great way to avoid bragging is by answering this question using the words of someone else. Maybe you can recount a time a supervisor or mentor patted you on the back, or recognized a noteworthy strength of yours.
Telling a story is more intriguing and meaningful than just stating a list of self-perceived attributes. Another important part to consider when answering this question is how much your answer fits what might be important for this role.
The skill you choose to emphasize might change based on the job you’re exploring, so make sure to do your research.
- When can you start?
Take the case of my client, Stephanie. She was asked this question while interviewing for one job but didn’t know how to answer it because she had just started the interview process for another position.
Ideally, she would be able to procure two offers, and then just choose which position she prefers, or better yet, use one offer to leverage a higher salary for another. Unfortunately though, the two timelines were off by a few weeks, and she needed to answer before she had time to get to the end of the interview process for the second role.
So how do you handle this question if you’re Stephanie and you find yourself wishing you had more time to weigh your options?
Don’t be afraid to ask for time. It may feel difficult to ask something of a hiring manager (especially when you’re so hard to be charming and professional) but you should feel comfortable advocating for yourself in this situation. Believe me, asking for a few days to consider the offer is a totally understandable request.
If you are in the process of interviewing for a different role, it’s also okay to let the hiring manager know that you have a deadline for committing. In a way, this gives you the opportunity to reiterate how excited you are about this position.
The goal is not to come off like you’re rushing them or being pushy, but like you just want to get clarity on their own timeline and the likelihood that you’ll be advancing to later stages and/or being hired.
- Do you have any questions?
The answer to this question should always be yes. The reasons for this are because one, it gives the impression that you’re genuinely interested and curious about the company and role, and two, because it gives you the opportunity to get some information for internet sleuthing.
I recommend that you go to the interview with a few questions prepared and that they are targeted and specific. If your questions are too general, then it will sound like you either don’t know a lot about the company, or you recycle these questions for any interview you do because they can be applicable anywhere.
When you’re being specific, on the other hand, you’re asking questions about initiatives or projects that the company has undergone that you’re excited about. Extra points if you can connect this to one of your strengths.
Here are a few of the latest interview questions I would have in my back pocket if I were interviewing for a job in 2022, especially if I was curious or concerned about the remote and/or in-office possibilities:
- “I understand that this position is advertised as fully remote. Do you anticipate a time when you expect the person holding this position to transition to in-person work?”
- “Office culture is very important to me, and I wonder how you feel your staff has been handling the transition to remote work?”
- “If everything goes well with the post-pandemic reopening, what do you think your approach to in-person versus remote work will be in a year’s time?”
- “How do you think that office culture has changed with the shift to more remote work?”
- “I love hearing success stories from the past year. I’d really like to hear about a triumph that your team achieved despite the difficulties of the pandemic.”