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4 ways job interviews have changed since the start of the pandemic

Members of Fast Company’s Impact Council shared how they’re adjusting the interview process, and what new questions they’re asking candidates.

4 ways job interviews have changed since the start of the pandemic
[Source photo: AndreyPopov/iStock]
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Companies across a range of industries have been struggling to find enough qualified workers since the start of the pandemic. The Department of Labor reports that the unemployment rate is currently 5.2%, with 8.4 million citizens without work. In contrast, as of June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 10 million job openings in the United States.

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In this shifting economy, there’s a need to retain and accommodate workers, and finding qualified candidates who want to grow with a company can be a challenge. We reached out to the Fast Company Impact Council, a collection of innovative leaders in business, to learn more about how they’re adjusting their interview processes to recruit individuals best suited for this time of change.

A greater focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion

Now, more than ever, DEI principles are at the forefront of many companies’ hiring initiatives.

“As part of the interview process, we want to understand how a candidate has created or fostered diversity, inclusion, and belonging at work,” says Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer at Workday. “Some of the interview questions that are helpful to assess this include: ‘Tell me about a time that you adapted your style in order to work effectively with those who were different from you,’ and ‘What kinds of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than your own?'”

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A chance to get to know a candidate’s ‘human’ side

The  pandemic further smashed the divide between home and the working world. Through the lens of a computer, a sneak peak of a candidate’s authentic life is now on display, whether it be the family pictures on the wall behind them or a dog in the corner of the screen.

“I am finding myself to have much more of a personal conversation at the very beginning of an interview and things that probably would not have been talked about before, like the childcare situation and schooling situation,” says Margery Kraus, founder and executive chairman of APCO Worldwide. “I think it’s really important that we get to know the person, not just their résumé and their experience and accomplishments, but who are they are as a whole human being.”

A question that gets at a candidate’s personality

While both IQ and EQ are vital in a workplace, demonstrating empathy and an understanding of oneself and others’ emotions has never been more important. Hiring individuals with a high emotional intelligence and strong soft skills helps teams grow and adapt more successfully, so it’s no wonder hiring managers ask creative questions to suss out a candidate’s EQ.

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“We often ask a candidate to sell [us] on their movie choice,” says Parizad Bharucha, senior director of human resources at Oracle. “The answers can be very insightful, and a good candidate will ask lots of probing questions before giving their answer.”

Kristen Delphos, vice president and head of marketing and communications at Dematic, says, “Many of our interview focus areas revolve around organizational and culture fit, and what level of problem solving, innovation, and resiliency they bring.”

No tricks

Some hiring managers delight in asking off the wall or riddle-like questions  to gauge an applicant’s ability to think on their feet in the hiring process. But this might not be the best method to find the perfect employee in an unstable labor market. Asking straightforward questions allows the interviewee show their strengths clearly.

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“Our Talent Acquisition team believes in a transparent, values-driven, and candidate-focused hiring experience that doesn’t require any unusual or surprise tactics,” says Ashton Stronks, director of communications at NeueHouse. “We commit to providing our candidates two consistent points of experience: information and communication.”