questions you can ask employers during interviews regarding covid-19
In any job interview, preparing thoughtful questions to ask your interviewer(s) is a
must. Doing so not only shows your genuine interest in and excitement about the
role but can also help you learn whether the role and company are a good fit for you.
Interviews are your chance to vet the employer just as much as they’re seeking to
learn about your fitness for the job.
Now, in the midst of COVID-19, it is increasingly important to understand how
companies have handled the crisis, how it is impacting their business and what kinds
of support they’re offering employees during what is an extremely difficult time for
In this article, we offer examples of COVID-19-related questions you can ask
employers during interviews so you can understand the steps they’ve taken in
response and learn about any gaps or shortcomings. This is an unprecedented time
and employers may not have good answers to all of your questions, but asking them
can at least illuminate exactly what you can expect when you start your new job.
Before the Q and A…
Whether you are interviewing for a new job or considering returning to your previous
job (post-furlough or temporary work-from-home), it’s wise to consider the following
before having your Q & A conversation about COVID-19 and the workplace:
Know your rights
Before starting the conversation with a present or potential future employer, make
sure that you know the current legal guidelines on returning to work, as well as what
your legal rights as an employee are. Review current federal and state regulations
on COVID and the workplace.
Prepare for virtual or in-person.
Depending on the company’s guidelines on in-person work requirements, you could
be scheduled to go in-person for your interview or back-to-work conversation. Make
sure to ask beforehand if a virtual alternative will be available. Moreover, if having
the flexibility of a virtual work environment is a deal breaker for you, ask prior to the
interview to save yourself the time and effort for a position that is not right for you.
What to listen for…
How people answer a question can often tell you just as much as the answer itself.
Pay attention to the content of their answer as well as their nonverbal
communication, including body language, tone and talking speed. Here’s what else
to listen for to ensure that you will be getting what you need from your next job:
Direct answers: Especially, when it comes to questions of health and job
security, you need well-thought-out, full-bodied answers to your questions.
Vague or indirect answers to your questions require clarification. If they cannot
answer directly, there might not be a plan in place that will satisfy your level of
comfort during COVID-19.
Details: Your interviewer should be able to provide details on what they have
learned, their new strategy and the current safety precautions they have in
place. If you receive short answers, they may simply not have the details
figured out yet.
Present tense: Listen for answers from your interviewer that tells you that they
are presently taking steps to respond to COVID-19 as a business. While it
could be that there is a future plan to enact these things, the answer should be
definable with specified timelines. Anything less could be a maybe.
COVID-19-related questions to ask in your next
- Tell me about the steps the company took after the onset of COVID-19.
- What is your policy on working from home? Do you plan on implementing a
long-term flexible or remote work option?
- If your business went remote at any point, what benefits and/or deficits have
you seen as a result?
- If your business went remote at any point, how have you handled staff
- If you have resumed in-person work, how has COVID-19 affected your office
processes or occupancy?
- Do you see your office layout evolving in the next three to five years?
- If you have an in-person work environment, what steps will you take if one
person tests positive for COVID-19?
- If you have an in-person work environment, what is your plan should there be
a mandatory shutdown due to an outbreak? Are you prepared to go remote
should that occur?
- Do you have any new programs, perks or benefits to encourage employees to
be productive and happy at home (office space reimbursement, flex time,
10.How has COVID-19 affected your business financially? Has the pandemic
changed your short- and long-term strategy? How?
11.If your business went remote at any point, what kind of remote programs,
software or technical supports have you offered employees?
11.What is your expectation for employees who don’t feel comfortable in an inperson office environment within the next year?
12.How has COVID-19 impacted staff taking vacation time? Has your vacation
policy changed as a result?
13.What happens if I get COVID-19? How does your sick leave policy affect
COVID? Will I need to quarantine?
14.What is your policy on extended leave should I need to care for a sick family
15.What is your mask policy? How is it enforced?
16.Based on your new strategy after the pandemic, what can you tell me about
the security of this position?
17.Have you initiated any programs to help employees become more adaptable
through education and training?
18.If your office is remote, how have you maintained company culture?
19.Are you taking any steps to support parents with kids learning remotely at
Tips for interviewing during COVID-19
A virtual interview can be different in nature and requirements, but also requires
much of the same protocol and engagement. Here are some ways to make your next
virtual interview successful:
Treat your virtual interview as you would an in-person interview. Dress
professionally, appear polished, smile, and make eye contact.
Test all computer equipment and programs before the interview.
Ensure you have the right bandwidth and a strong internet connection.
Choose a quiet, distraction-free, clean and clutter-free workspace.
Have a pad of paper and pen ready to take notes.
Write down your questions and place them with your notepaper.
Be ready with your own answers to questions about adaptability, growth and
Make sure the lighting is even and your webcam is focused on your face by
choosing a well-lit spot in your room. Play with peripheral lighting in the room
to get the best video appearance.
Stay engaged, actively listen and be positive, even if the answers are not what
you’re hoping for.
Notify any housemates about the time and day of your interview, explaining
that you’ll need at least two hours (or more) free of noise and distraction.
In-person interviews will likely also look much different in the midst of COVID-19.
Here are some ways to make your next in-person interview successful:
If you are uncomfortable with meeting in person for your interview, ask your
interviewer if there is a virtual alternative. If there isn’t, ask about the ways
they’re making the interview safe to decide whether or not you’d like to
Ask what you should expect. Many companies have mask policies, certain
guidelines for arriving and/or temperature checks at entry. This will prepare
you for the process ahead of time.
Avoid a handshake if you are uncomfortable. Most hiring managers will know
not to initiate this kind of contact. If they do put out their hand, feel free to
express your concern respectfully.