When interviewing for a job during troubled times like these, the question in your mind is not only “Will I get the job?” but “Will the job survive the upheavals around Covid-19?” Search for answers online, then prepare to ask some good questions in your interviews to assess the role’s job security–or lack of it.
I did some interview coaching with a client who was interviewing for a role that involved managing an annual fundraising event. She was concerned about what would happen to the role if the event was canceled. My advice was: “Don’t be afraid to ask that question at the interview.”
The following is a list of questions you can ask to assess how secure a position might be. Of course there is no crystal ball here. All you can do is ask good questions and then make an informed decision if you succeed in getting the offer.
Remember, a good question to ask is one that is:
- Appropriate for the role, company, industry and situation.
- Asked with a positive, collaborative tone.
- Asked at the right time. Focus first on the needs of the role, and save direct questions about Covid-19 until later in the interview process.
- Open-ended, if you want more information than just “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions start with words like what, how, who, when or where.
- Informed by your pre-interview research into the company and the industry.
Before asking any question, imagine the interviewer turning it back on you: “What do you think?” Thinking this through is a useful exercise to help prepare yourself for the discussion.
Questions to ask in a job interview during a recession:
- What is the company’s strategy for success during this pandemic?
- How is the company planning for long-term changes that will occur in the industry over the next few years?
- What has this company learned from its experience of the pandemic?
- What is your strategy to keep your department strong and maintain FTE?
- How does upper management view the importance of this department? Of this role?
- It’s so difficult to get funding to hire these days. What is the need driving this hire? Why is this role viewed as essential?
- Is this a new role? If so, when was the decision made to create it?
- What types of skills do you not have on the team, that you’re hoping to bring in with this hire?
- What is the highest priority for this role in the next six months? And after that?
- How has the current situation created special challenges for this role?
And if the indirect approach doesn’t do it, try a very general question:
- What can you tell me about job security in this role?
Questions to ask the interviewer about Covid-19:
- Will this position be remote at this point? What about in future? How will the assessment be made that it’s safe to work onsite again?
- What safety procedures have you put in place to protect workers?
- If an employee shows signs of Covid-19 infection and/or tests positive, how will everyone’s safety be protected?
- What’s your Covid-19 sick leave policy?
- What’s your policy about employees staying home to care for a sick family member?
- What expense reimbursements are provided for employees working from home?
- Has this company laid off employees during this crisis? How many? How many has it furloughed?
- What were the company’s policies about remote work before the crisis? How do you expect that to continue or change in 2021?
During a pandemic and a recession, asking questions like these in your interviews can help you make educated guesses for decision-making purposes. And if you get the job? Celebrate, make a flawless transition into your new job, track your accomplishments, keep your resume updated, manage your career, expect the unexpected–and don’t forget to smell the roses along the way.
This post was originally published in April 2020, and has been updated for accuracy.