Get ready for the job interview question, “What did you do during the pandemic?” Not just this year, but throughout your career. Why? It’s not that hiring managers want to know that you used the time to learn a new language, re-organize your closets, or get even closer with your family during all the board games and whatever you did during the quality time you spent together.
Much like any achievement, you will always in some way be defined by the triumph of getting yourself through a very challenging time. The knowledge and confidence that you can prevail over difficult and dynamic circumstances boost your courage to face future challenges. And, as you will discover over a long and prosperous career, work is largely about facing challenges and findings ways to surmount them in order to reach a goal. That is, if you are seeking meaningful, satisfying, productive, and lucrative work.
The point of every story in a job interview is that you made things better. Your intention, your plan, and your efforts made things better than they were.
So, what did you do during the pandemic? You switched to remote learning, becoming an even better communicator at a distance. Your video communication skills soared, which has tremendous value is you are interested in a big brand, multinational corporation, or national or international non-profit.
You not only persevered, but you also built your resilience muscle. Now that you know what it takes, you always have what it takes. Consider what those new assets are in terms of emotional intelligence, physical endurance, and just good common sense.
- Articulate the challenges you faced. If it included moving, improving your computer skills, working under pressure, meeting deadlines, dealing with ambiguity, reassessing your priorities, or otherwise managing change: document what you did and how you did it.
- Create a series of stories that describe what you faced and overcame – and how you did it. Practice telling the stories aloud, so you are ready to deliver them in a job interview.
- Express compassion and curiosity. Remember that every interviewer and hiring manager also faced challenges. When you are asked the question, “Do you have any questions for me?” include: “How did you handle the change in your work environment, communication, and managing all your duties during the pandemic?”
- Be positive. We are back but in very dynamic circumstances. Expect to keep up your spirits and express an upbeat, enthusiastic attitude – maybe even gratitude for gaining this resilience so early in your life and career.