The 5 Interview Questions You Need to Ask Every Candidate in 2021

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Within the last year, a global pandemic changed the work landscape completely — and most of these changes are here to stay.

According to a recent Upwork report, 41.8 percent of American workers are working fully remotely, and an estimated 26.7 percent will continue working from home through the end of 2021. The report also predicts the number of remote workers in the US workforce will nearly double by 2025, from 19.4 million to 36.2 million.

As virtual work becomes the new normal, you must adapt your interview questions to better assess candidates in today’s climate. Here are five interview questions that can help you evaluate whether candidates are agile enough to thrive in the changing landscape of 2021 and beyond:

1. How Do You Handle Tech Issues?

Why you should ask:While a few lucky employees worked from the comfort of their homes before 2020, whole teams are now working remotely for the first time — and many will continue to do so well into the future.

Naturally, technical difficulties are a fact of life in the remote era. For this reason, it’s important to suss out a candidate’s problem-solving and communication skills. How do they tackle tech issues? How do they get help when facing issues that are beyond their abilities to fix on their own?

Take it to the next level:This type of question allows a candidate to share examples of how they can remain calm during a problem and shift courses without getting sidetracked by unforeseen obstacles. Present a specific situation and have the candidate walk you through their critical-thinking process. Better yet, challenge the candidate to describe a scenario they believe could arise and how they would handle the situation.

2. Give Me an Example of How You Communicate and Collaborate With Others While Working Remotely.

Why you should ask: If remote work is here to stay, so is remote collaboration. For that reason, it is critical to ask questions that highlight how comfortable your candidate is with building relationships, maintaining communication, and working effectively with remote colleagues.

Getting to know your new teammates can be challenging in a remote setting. Asking your candidate how they nurture relationships when working remotely allows you to assess their emotional intelligence. It can also give you a better understanding of how their personality will fit in with the company.

Take it to the next level:Candidates may be inclined to respond to this question by sharing tools and apps they use to communicate in order to show they’re adept with communication technology. You may need to dig a bit deeper to truly understand their communication style. How comfortable are they with initiating conversations remotely? How well do they communicate important information or ask questions?

Check out the latest issue of Magazine for more career advice and recruiting trends:

3. How Do You Handle Distractions When Working Remotely?

Why you should ask:Let’s be honest: Most remote workers don’t have perfect home office setups. We all know distractions happen when we’re working from home, so it’s important to acknowledge this fact during your interview. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewee how they handle distractions during the workday.

Asking this question prompts candidates to give you insight into their ability to focus and function while working from home. Candidates can show their creative sides by giving examples of how they have adapted to working from home.

Take it to the next level:You can assess how stressful distractions are for a candidate and how they handle that stress. Remote workers can be prone to burnout, so you want to ensure your candidate can healthily manage stress. Ask about a specific situation when it was hard for the candidate to focus because. How did they feel during the ordeal, and how did they handle the situation?

4. Explain a Challenge You Overcame During 2020.

Why you should ask: Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 and has a story to tell about it. The pandemic has left no one untouched by adversity. Asking this question can give you insight into how a candidate copes with particularly difficult situations. In addition, this open-ended question gives candidates an opportunity to explain how they confront problems and deal with the unexpected.

Take it to the next level: Don’t be afraid to challenge the candidate’s solution to the particular problem they faced. Dig deeper to understand their critical-thinking process. Ask what they could have done differently to produce a better outcome. Did they consider other options? Did they feel some sense of powerlessness, like they couldn’t improve the situation? What do their answers reveal about their agility?

5. What Are Your concerns About Working in a Post-COVID World?

Why you should ask:It’s important to be transparent, especially during unprecedented times. You want to make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page from the moment they are hired. Your job is to make sure that candidates have a clear understanding of your company’s return-to-work plan. Never assume your interviewee knows what will happen in the future.

It’s important to ask questions that will give you a better understanding of the candidate’s expectations and how they align with your company’s plans. By having transparent conversations, you can ultimately identify those candidates who are on board with your company’s plans — and, therefore, less likely to leave in the future.

Take it to the next level:Ask candidates for their suggestions for a safe and effective transition. You can learn a lot about their problem-solving skills — and about how well they align with your company’s values in terms of health and safety.

Karyn Mullins is president of Connect with Karyn on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

By Karyn Mullins