Interviewing: Change is Good
As many of us explore the new normal of working in a post-pandemic world, one of the biggest take-aways is: work-life has changed permanently.
As some industries boomed during the height of the pandemic, others issued massive layoffs or closed entirely. This left a large sector of the public without jobs and a whole new set of worries. The good news is that job openings are also up right now as well. Luckily, if you were displaced from your job during this time businesses are now hiring. It’s time to polish your resume and LinkedIn.
So how do you optimize your interview experience, and what can you expect in the board room?
Most businesses are slowly reintegrating staff to the physical workplace and things seem to be turning a corner for standard business practices to resume. The hiring process is different now, and so are the things you should be negotiating when you’re interviewing. You can’t return to the interview table the same way you did pre-pandemic. Here’s why.
So many employees were forced into work-from-home scenarios at the start of the pandemic and many people, regardless of their job title, realized what life was like at home. Without rehashing the myriad anecdotes we all have about pandemic lockdown, we have come out of it with a new understanding of work-life balance. The collective learned experience helps us to make informed decisions moving forward.
What has it been like to interview recently?
Right now, you can still expect a portion of your interview, or several portions, to be conducted virtually. Companies that have gone back to work are not willing to disrupt the in-person ecosystem they worked hard to get back by bringing in outsiders. If you expect an interview process that is more than one meeting, it is safe to assume the first few will be virtual.
Since companies have the flexibility to interview via video conference, they can bring in more people. This boils down to either more people on the call, or multiple calls. It seems that companies are more interested in making sure you’re a good fit for the company than ever before.
The Perfect Fit
Prospective employers want to ensure they’re getting the right person for the job- so they’re willing to shop around. Although this is incredibly frustrating and suspenseful, it isn’t unusual to wait more than week without hearing from anyone. This might not be due to the company being discourteous, it has more to do with trying to juggle too many people’s schedules. Where are they? Is someone out on PTO? Did the current team get a chance to discuss the new hire? Who is in the office, and who is virtual? There are lots of moving parts.
You’ve made it to the end of the interviewing process and are now negotiating. In addition to things like salary, bonuses, stock options, benefits, and other more nuanced perks, here are a few things you should expect in the post-pandemic work world:
- It is now an expectation that you will discuss a flex schedule. We all learned that it is possible to be a productive and integrated members of the company. Businesses expect this conversation.
- Health and wellbeing are now a permanent fixture in negotiations. Not only are people expected to discuss PTO, for sick or otherwise, but mental health options are also discussed. There are many ways companies are integrating wellness into their options, but it depends on the type of industry you’re working in and the size and scope of the company. Ask about it.
- If they are unwilling, or unable (due to the nature of the work), to give a work-from-home option, use that as leverage for additional PTO. Covid-19 hasn’t disappeared. Even if you aren’t scared of contracting it, schools have changed their sick policies for children, among other scheduling nightmares. The potential for you to need more days than you ever did before because of you or a family member not being able to attend work or school in person are still high.
Plan ahead and advocate for yourself. Although smaller companies may be more inclined to look out for their employees’ welfare- large companies, and those who have struggled through the pandemic, are more concerned about the bottom line. It is an unfortunate reality. Approaching an interview with a company like that is ok if you are mentally prepared to ask for things that will help you and your family in the new normal. Advocate for yourself.
Employers Looking to Hire
Keeping your employees happy in the workplace organically boosts morale. In a time when we can’t do the things we usually do to boost morale, e.g., team building trips or experiences, incentive trips or simply a nice happy hour or company party, you need to start thinking of ways to keep employees invested in the company for retention.
Lots of people are on the move right now. In simple terms, companies should be sleeping with one eye open because most of their workforce is probably looking at the competition to see what’s available and what they’re offering. To be honest, can you blame them? Unless you have run the most seamless execution of work-during-a-global-crisis, everyone is ready to finally pick their heads up and take a look around.
Is This the Perfect Time to Make a Career Change?
Since so many companies are in flux, both in terms of employee retention and the change in market, it does seem like a good time to make a change. Many people are more willing to take a risk right now.
For some, they have had an epiphany during the pandemic, others have decided to pivot their careers, some got laid off and are trying to find the next move. There are scores of reasons why Americans are job seeking right now. Own it. You’re not alone.