Yes, it is a candidate’s job market, but with 75% of managers preferring some type of in-person work environment, according to a Goodhire.com survey of 3500 managers, companies are starting to utilize the in-person interview again. Here are some tips on navigating the minefield of vaccination policies, remote/hybrid/in-office preferences and communication expertise questions for the in-person interview.
The Equal Employment Commission has issued guidance that generally allows employers to require employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated, and nearly 2/3 of employers are mandating vaccines. This means to even interview you may have to show proof of vaccination. An August 2021 Resume Builder survey found that 33% of hiring managers reported eliminating resumes that don’t include vaccination status.
One thing that has been clear throughout the pandemic is the wide spectrum of precaution preferences that exist. Most companies have their COVID policies posted on their website. Before even applying make sure your approach to COVID is in alignment with your target company. What if someone in your household gets the virus or one of your new co-workers? Are they doing contact tracing or are they open to remote work for a certain time period to protect all workers?
Masks remain a question mark. They tend to make people uncomfortable and certainly make reading an interviewer or interviewee’s facial expression difficult negating the positive side of an in-person interview. Consider whether you are comfortable with a socially distanced setting versus mandatory mask adherence.
Be careful sharing any immunocompromised status you have. It is illegal to discriminate on the bases of health and medical issues but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Emphasize you are happy the numbers are going down and you want to do your part to keep it that way.
While 60% of all managers in GoodHire.com’s survey either strongly agreed or agreed that a full-time return to the office mandate is coming, 24% said they didn’t believe it would happen this year. Employees or candidates have concerns about COVID as discussed above but there is also a clear trend of employees quitting even hybrid positions to work fully remote and even if they don’t change positions there is strong employee resistance to returning to the office. Unfortunately 77% of the managers in this survey said there would be severe consequences if disgruntled employees demand fully remote work. Those consequences include firings, pay cuts, loss of promotion opportunities, loss of benefits and loss of paid time-off.
Employers feel remote workers lack work focus because of personal commitments and have productivity issues, and company’s struggle to create a strong culture and keep employees engaged when they work fully remote. Even with those concerns, though, 73% of managers said some type-of in-person work is preferred with 25% accepting full remote, 33% wanting fully in-office and 42% fine with hybrid. This isn’t far off from where we were prior to COVID with 22% fully remote, 35% hybrid and 43% fully in office.
Given that most predictions are for a predominantly hybrid workforce, the ability to communicate effectively becomes even more important. Are you an agile communicator across multiple platforms? Expect a question like this in the interview process: Tell me about a time you were communicating both with some people in-person and some people online. How did you make sure that each of the audiences was engaged and successfully received your message?
Questions about your relationships with managers, co-workers and customers during COVID can be very telling about your ability to work effectively remotely or balance the combination of remote and in-person. What has been your experience working for a manager exclusively remotely? How have you improved your relationship with your customers while only communicating online?