The COVID-19 pandemic changed many practices that had long been considered “business as usual.” From remote to hybrid work expectations to Slack conversations, the typical workplace will never be the same.
But has that shift also altered how we find new jobs, as well? Of course, the pandemic led to quitting en masse – dubbed the Great Resignation – which, in turn, forced companies to scramble to fill vacated positions. In turn, recruiters worked to modify their recruitment practices in ways that would appeal to candidates.
At the same time, they wanted to be thorough. Organizations also wanted to ensure they were finding strong candidates who would stay for the long run to fill open positions.
“It’s disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming if you hire the wrong person and then have to manage them out. Plus, multiple bad hires create churn and diminish people’s confidence in their leadership,” said Mikaela Kiner of uniquelyHR.
If you’re interviewing in 2022, will your interview be different from before the pandemic? The answer will probably be yes. From the interview environment to the questions you’re asked, you can expect the post-pandemic landscape to be markedly different from the one you’re familiar with.
Here are a few of the key changes.
Candidates expect flexible interviews – doubling as a preview of the company culture.
Many companies have moved to virtual interviews, especially in the early stages of the hiring process. At first, candidates couldn’t come to in-person interviews during the pandemic.
But now, candidates have come to expect the flexibility these video interviews provide. In turn, they are likely less willing to accept an interview that forces them to travel to the company, especially if they live out of town, are forced to find childcare, or take time off work.
They may not even be interested in your company because on-site interviews indicate that you may not offer them the level of flexibility they would want in a workplace.
“What’s more, an inflexible interview process that hinges on in-person interactions may give candidates the impression that your company isn’t truly committed to providing flexible work arrangements, even if this is something you’re highlighting in your employer branding materials,” said Samantha McLaren, Lead Copywriter for Global Impact @ LinkedIn.
At the same time, candidates should understand how to operate in this virtual environment.
Though virtual interviewing simplifies the process for candidates, this shift also puts the onus on you to create an appealing environment. Whereas this was all up to the company in the days of in-person interviews, now, you must set up your video ecosystem, demonstrating your tech and communication skills and your understanding of how to subconsciously convey messages about your competence.
“[Y]ou’ll need to consider lighting, connectivity, audio quality, ambient noise, background visuals, and video angles, to name a few. Everything counts and will be a part of the evaluation since it’s likely you’ll be using video technology regularly to communicate in the new role, perhaps with customers, so the interview has become an audition of sorts,” said Dawn Graham of Forbes.
Video interviews can also increase competition, especially for fully-remote roles.
Before the pandemic, many roles were being filled by local candidates or extremely dedicated applicants who were willing to travel for the interview and, eventually, move if offered the job. But the move to virtual interviewing means that you can apply for jobs around the country, even if you’re unwilling to relocate since so many more are fully remote.
While this can be great for you, it also means that hiring pools are often more robust and competitive.
“By eradicating the need for travel, recruiters can markedly extend their reach — especially if the search is to fill a remote position. Gone are the days when companies were restricted to the local talent pool. Pre-recorded video clips of candidates answering interview questions can even provide recruiters with candidate insights when time zone issues prevent a live video interview,” wrote ThinkWhy.
Many companies are integrating as many as three interview rounds into their recruitment.
With these larger candidate pools, you shouldn’t expect that you’re going to have one interview before landing the job. Instead, you should plan for a first round that may even include recording your answers to questions before ever communicating with a live person.
After the first round, you can expect at least one – but likely more – interview. Some companies are hosting three or more interview rounds, so many stakeholders at the organization can share their responses and thoughts about candidates.
“Hiring is a collaborative process with many stakeholders. Decisions will be better, and there will be more buy-in when the right people participate early in the process. Getting the team onboard means they’ll all pitch in to make the new hire comfortable and successful,” said Kiner.
Prepare for questions about your preferred work environment, vaccination status, and communication style.
In interviewers, employers want to know how candidates prefer to work. If they want to fill a position with someone willing to come into the office two days a week, they don’t want to waste their time with a candidate who won’t relocate to their company headquarters. Or, if they have a vaccination policy, and a candidate is unwilling to get vaccinated, then they need to screen by the preferred work environment.
“Employees expect trust, stability, hope, and compassion from their employers as well as enhanced well-being benefits, virtual or hybrid working opportunities, and to see their employer taking on the causes that matter most to them,” Omar L. Harris, author Leader Board: The DNA of High-Performance Teams, told Fast Company.
At the same time, be prepared to discuss how you communicate in various settings.
How would you stay in touch with your supervisor if you were to work in a hybrid or remote position? How effective would you be in connecting with clients without meeting them face to face? Be prepared to talk about how you’re adapting to the post-pandemic work culture.
Interviewing in 2022
If you’re looking to find a new position this year, you’ll want to be familiar with the interview processes that many companies have deployed. Then, you’ll be more prepared to be successful – especially because you’ll have eliminated any troubling mystery about what’s to come.
Ultimately, you want to think about the interview process not just as a way companies screen you — but also as a way to judge if the company is where you would want to work.