Hiring after the pandemic – what questions will bosses be asked?

July 15, 2020

For millions of us, the workplace as we know it has changed dramatically; with dining room tables, breakfast bars and spare bedrooms being turned into make-shift offices.

As well as managing the working from home situation, the tough decision to furlough staff and taking measures to make any return to work COVID-19 secure, bosses will undoubtedly be faced with numerous questions from potential new employees.

As the job search is predicted to resume in the coming weeks, Peterborough recruitment firm Anne Corder Recruitment has some advice for employers before they tell candidates ‘You’re Hired!’

Karen Dykes, partner at ACR says that as well as companies being faced with a surge in CVs being submitted by people looking for a post pandemic change in career, job hunters who have been made redundant or others looking for temporary summer work; management may have some tough questions to answer.

She said: “Life in the workplace as we currently know it has changed and is likely to remain far from the ‘normal’ we once knew for some time to come. For those who have returned to their office environments, we know that employers have taken steps to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff.

“Social distancing measures have been implemented, in addition to increased hand washing / sanitising stations and in some cases, closing off the kitchen or staff meeting facility. However, anyone changing jobs and coming into surroundings they are unfamiliar with will understandably have concerns and questions they will need answering at the outset.”

Questions bosses should be prepared for:

How was your company affected by the coronavirus pandemic?
Be prepared and be honest! Have a well thought out answer ready and be up front about any difficulties and challenges you have faced over the months – and how you have overcome them. Be transparent to avoid any misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

What actions did you take to protect employees during lockdown?
This is an excellent opportunity to showcase what measures you took to ensure the welfare of your staff. Make mention of physical measures – hand sanitiser or physically distancing staff all the way through or providing laptops / monitors and other office equipment to home workers in quarantine. Don’t shy away from talking about furloughing to ‘save’ jobs and if senior staff decided to take a personal pay cut or top up furloughed employees’ income to match a 100 per cent take-home, mention it.

How did you support staff you retained during the crisis?
Ensure that you talk about all the relevant communication channels you kept open during this time; daily video calls, reassurance that your virtual door remained open, giving or encouraging working staff the opportunity to take some of their holiday entitlement, agreeing flexible working times for those who have been home schooling and advising staff to look after their mental wellbeing by taking regular breaks from the screen or work station and any out of office fun activities you engaged the team with.

Have you revised or do you have a flexible working policy following the pandemic?
This is something that will undoubtedly affect the majority of businesses, particularly if remote working has been a new arrangement to come out of the lock down situation. If you haven’t already, then firming up your policy is vital going forward. All employees who have at least 26 weeks’ service already have the right to request flexible working. It is likely that employers will be faced with a rise in requests from people asking to work some of their time from home going forward; perhaps more so in cases where childcare or public transport is an issue. Be clear however that while flexible working is an option, each request will be dealt with on its own merits.

How do you support the wellbeing of staff, many of whom may be feeling disconnected and lonely due to the remote working situation?
Coming back into a working environment which is not how many people remember it can be difficult. However, it is important to reassure any new staff of a commitment to regular updates with input/ suggestions from staff as to any ongoing COVID-19 safe changes within the business. Demonstrate that their wellbeing is a high priority and highlight some of the measures you are taking; fresh fruit deliveries, providing comfortable break out areas, opportunities for lunchtime walks etc. Talk also about any reward schemes, internal awards and social distanced or virtual after work activities.